Understanding Of Reality In Flannery O’ Conner’s Short Stories

In Flannery O’ Conner’s short stories “A Good Man Is Hard to Find” and “Good Country People”, she uses complex characterization, irony, biblical allusions, as well as religious symbolism to give a deeper meaning to the character's lives and gives the reader better insight into her own understanding of reality.Throughout her short story “A Good Man Is Hard to Find”; Flannery O’ Connor uses slight characterization to establish the personality of the Misfit and the Grandmother. While most of his characteristics in the story are very obvious and easy to detect, others cause the reader to look deeper into the views of the character and their alleged thoughts. The Misfit was portrayed as a dangerous, psychotic criminal,  only through the grandmother’s assumption that he was the criminal mentioned earlier in the news. The Grandmother, on the other hand, is established as a stubborn old woman that wants things done her way. But looking closer at her actions, it becomes more obvious that she may be the villain of the story. The Misfit feels he has made a name for himself and has a reputation to uphold. One that the family he encounters will never understand, let alone the rest of society.

The first religious symbol is shown through the misfit. He portrays himself as someone who is above everyone he has wronged, “I found out the crime doesn’t matter. You can do one thing or you can do another, kill a man or take a tire off his car, because sooner or later you’re going to forget what it was you done and just be punished for it.”(GM). This is incorrect because Misfit is not a Christ-like, but of the very thing, he wanted to expel from heaven and condemn to hell. That, of course, is Lucifer himself. The Misfit is a symbol of the anti-Christ and his actions are the complete opposite of a Christ figure.Another important characteristic of the grandmother appears early in the story when her grandchildren state “She wouldn't stay at home for a million bucks. Afraid she’d miss something. She has to go everywhere we go” (GM ). The first impression that we are given of the Misfit is that of a heartless lone wolf and criminal, while the grandmother enjoys spending time with her family. Although she seems to be a sweet, old woman, there are several instances that show she can be manipulative towards her son and grandchildren in order to get what she wants. Flannery O’ Conner’s short story Good Country People is an example of the use of irony as a method to write a story with hidden deeper meaning through different levels of irony throughout the piece. Examples can range from her use of ironic dialogue and dramatic irony, especially between Manley and Joy-Hulga.  

The most obvious being found in O’Connor’s characters in “good country people”. The use of irony has a strong connection to the character’s name and their actions throughout the story present differences between their expectations and views on their own reality.  The characters are made up of a woman named Mrs. Hopewell and her daughter Joy, who had later in the story changed her name changed to Hulga, mainly because she felt that her name didn’t fit her. Both live on a farm with their tenants Mrs. Freeman and her two daughters named Glynese and Carramae. Mrs. Hopewell calls Mrs. Freeman’s girls  Glycerin and Caramel and refuses to call her own daughter anything but the birth name. The story is told through the interactions of these dysfunctional group of women, and their encounters with the Bible selling con-artist Manley Pointer.

07 July 2022
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