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Literary BioethicsAnimality, Disability, and the Human$
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Maren Tova Linett

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9781479801268

Published to NYU Press Scholarship Online: January 2021

DOI: 10.18574/nyu/9781479801268.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM NYU Press SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.nyu.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of NYU Press, 2022. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in NYSO for personal use.date: 24 May 2022

Disabled Lives

Disabled Lives

O’Connor’s The Violent Bear It Away

Chapter:
(p.89) 3 Disabled Lives
Source:
Literary Bioethics
Author(s):

Maren Tova Linett

Publisher:
NYU Press
DOI:10.18574/nyu/9781479801268.003.0004

Chapter 3 inserts Flannery O’Connor’s The Violent Bear It Away (1960) into contemporary bioethical discussions about the value of disabled lives. This novel portrays the murder of an intellectually disabled boy, Bishop, by his fourteen-year-old cousin, a murder that serves as the culmination of debates about his value staged in the novel. Considering points of view about the worth of intellectually disabled human beings expressed by O’Connor’s fictional characters alongside those expressed by Peter Singer and other philosophers and bioethicists, the chapter demonstrates a revealing convergence of (ableist) views held by the intensely secular Singer and the fervently Catholic O’Connor. In staging debates about Bishop’s worth in a rationalistic world, O’Connor accepts eugenic positions she purports to critique.

Keywords:   Flannery O’Connor, The Violent Bear It Away, intellectual disability, deafness, bioethics, resistant reading practices, value of lives, moral worth, Peter Singer

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