At her mother’s farm, Andalusia, in Milledgeville, Ga., [Flannery O'Connor] collected all manner of fowl: ducks, quail, mail-order swans and peacocks. In Christian art, the peacock appears as a symbol of immortality and the incorruptible soul. She said she was attracted to the bird by “instinct.” She was always sending peacock feathers to her correspondents and friends. After one of Robert Lowell’s “spells,” she sent him one that was five feet long. Unimpressed, he said, “That’s all I need, a peacock feather.”
From "Stranger Than Paradise," Joy Williams' review of Flannery: A Life of Flannery O'Connor, by Brad Gooch. New York Times Book Review, March 1, 2009.
See also "Believing in Flannery O'Connor," by Terry Teachout. Commentary Magazine, March 2009.