About her story “Good Country People,” in which a Bible salesman steals a woman’s leg, Flannery O’Connor wrote, “If you want to say that the wooden leg is a symbol, you can say that. But it is a wooden leg first.” Similarly, Maud Casey warns against symbol-hunting and symbol-planting; she argues, instead, for the resonant power of lavishing attention on the literal level, and turns for examples to O’Connor’s story as well as to fiction by James Baldwin, Tim O’Brien, Deborah Eisenberg and Chris Abani.
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