Another quote from Flannery O’Conner is instructive in her understanding of life.
There is a question whether faith can or is supposed to be emotionally satisfying. I must say that the thought of everyone lolling about in an emotionally satisfying faith is repugnant to me. I believe that we are ultimately directed Godward but that this journey is often impeded by emotion.1
O’Conner knew of suffering; she was diagnosed with Lupus when she was 26 years old and died from complications of the disease at 39 years of age. Her novels tell stories of people who are changed by difficult circumstances in life.
However grotesque the setting, she tried to portray her characters as they might be touched by divine grace. This ruled out a sentimental understanding of the stories’ violence, as of her own illness. O’Connor wrote: “Grace changes us and change is painful.”2
1 Flannery O’Conner in a letter to Betty Hester, September 6, 1955. http://theamericanreader.com/6-september-1955-flannery-oconnor/