With story #3, Flannery seems to be saying, "I get it. You think I only write stories about the pain of growing older where the psychological anguish is exquisitely rendered. Fine. I'll write a story about the pain of growing older, but this time there'll be A MOTHERFREAKIN' WILDCAT terrorizing said old person. How you like me now, Iowa? BOOM!"
And so we have "Wildcat," a terrifying story where a blind elderly man fruitlessly warns whoever will listen about the dangers of the wildcat that's been on the prowl for the past few days. His preternatural sense of smell makes him the only one who can sense when the cat is about to attack, but his infirmity and blindness cause others to laugh off his advice. So the reader is treated to nine pages where the old man, alone in his cabin in the middle of the woods, prepares himself for the inevitable showdown. I don't want to say that Hollywood has since stolen this idea, but et tu, Audrey Hepburn? O'Connor ratchets up the tension and probably says some profound things about how death is a predatory beast from whom you can't escape, but I missed all of that because I was too scared of the GIANT FREAKING WILDCAT THAT EATS OLD PEOPLE.
Most beautiful sentence that conveys what it is to be old and blind: "When he woke up, the darkness was full of morning things."
Who I would cast in the movie version: James Pickens, Jr. (with old age make-up and white contacts)