Friday, June 10, 2011


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Maybe He didnt raise the dead, the old lady mumbled, not knowing what she was saying and feeling so dizzy that she sank down in the ditch with her legs twisted under her.

I wasnt there so I cant say He didnt, The Misfit said. I wisht I had of been there, he said, hitting the ground with his fist. It aint right I wasnt there because if I had of been there I would of known. Listen lady, he said in a high voice, if I had of been there I would of known and I wouldnt be like I am now. His voice seemed about to crack and the grandmothers head cleared for an instant. She saw the mans face twisted close to her own as if he were going to cry and she murmured, Why youre one of my babies. Youre one of my own children! She reached out and touched him on the shoulder. The Misfit sprang back as if a snake had bitten him and shot her three times through the chest. Then he put his gun down on the ground and took off his glasses and began to clean them.

Hiram and Bobby Lee returned from the woods and stood over the ditch, looking down at the grandmother who half sat and half lay in a puddle of blood with her legs crossed under her like a childs and her face smiling up at the cloudless sky.


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Without his glasses, The Misfits eyes were red-rimmed and pale and defenseless-looking. Take her off and thow her where you shown the others, he said, picking up the cat that was rubbing itself against his leg.

She was a talker, wasnt she? Bobby Lee said, sliding down the ditch with a yodel.

She would of been a good woman, The Misfit said, if it had been somebody there to shoot her every minute of her life.

Some fun! Bobby Lee said.

Shut up, Bobby Lee The Misfit said. Its no real pleasure in life.

“The Life You Save May be Your Own” is a typical O’Connor story. In its grim depiction of a group of outcast with sharply exaggerated physical characteristics and personality traits, the story conveys many of the tragic realities of life in the modern world (SSC Vol. 1 pg. 4).

In rural Georgia, Mrs. Hopewell runs her family farm with the help of tenants Mr. and Mrs. Freeman. Mrs. Hopewells daughter, Joy, who got her leg shot off in an accident when she was a child, now lives at home with her mother. Thirty three year old Joy has earned a PhD in philosophy, but she does not seem to have much common sense. In an act of rebellion, she has changed her name to Hulga, and she lives in a state of annoyed anger at her mother and Mrs. Freeman. A Bible salesman comes to the door, claiming his name is Manly Pointer (!), and manages to get invited to dinner. He and Hulga make a date to have a picnic together the next day. That night Hulga imagines with her superior mind and education that shes in control and that she will seduce him. However, the next day by the time they have climbed into a barn loft, Manly manages to persuade her to take off her glasses and then her wooden leg which he packs in a suitcase, between a Bible which is really a box with liquor and pornographic cards in it. As Manly leaves Hulga without her false leg, he tells her that he collects prostheses from the disabled. She is shocked to realize that he is not good country people.

Commentary In this grotesque story, OConnor develops several themes. We see that Hulga has never really grown up. Shes acting like a rebellious teenager, stomping around the house, slamming doors, accusing her mother of being stupid, wearing a grungy old skirt and a sweatshirt with a cowboy on it. We see also her pride in her own intellect and in her mastery of existentialism, which comes crashing down when she is so gullible and naive as to be easily manipulated by the young Bible salesman. Hulga may actually be on some kind of spiritual search, in spite of her denial that God exists. She is fooled by Manly, who makes her think he is a simple religious country bumpkin way beneath her. But Manly is much more worldly wise than Hulga; he seduces her, instead of the other way around. And she is left sitting alone in a hay loft without her glasses (she was not seeing very clearly anyway) and without her wooden leg. Part of the brilliant writing in this story shows how people tend to use clich�s in ways that make it easy for them to avoid thinking or seeing clearly.

Source The Complete Stories

Publisher Farrar, Straus & Giroux (New York)

Edition 171

Miscellaneous First published in A Good Man is Hard to Find (155). The Complete Stories won the National Book Award.

Annotated by Donley, Carol

Date of Entry 4//00

Last Modified 6/1/00

Lets take a look at A Good Man Is hard to Find.OConner really puts the reader in the middle class mode and troughs a little religion at us . In this I mean that she really took us to a important part of her mind and writing. One mite say that she lets the Devil come out in her own little way.

In reading A Good Man is Hard to Find OConner puts me in a setting of a lower middle class family with a domineering mother, grandmother and a whinny mother-in-law. I tend to believe that OConner wants her to be the main character. I would say the grandmother is representative of godliness and Christianity. I havent read a lot of OConners writings. However just from this one story I get the feeling that she could be telling of the changes that took place in the US after W.W. II when violence began to grow rapidly. In the 50s crime was on everyones mind and in the newspapers. I feel that this story reflects how OConnors view that society was drastically changing for the worse. OConnors obvious displeasure with society at the time could have been attributed to her Catholic religion !

OConner was trying to put the question of Religion to the reader. What I mean by this is, What has happened to the World ? Here you have a dear old lady just trying to get her only son to take her where she wants to go. Consider the Christian idea of evil as opposed to a divine nation of the good. I noticed how the characters usually are acting from good intentions, attempting to inflict their ideas of what is good on the less fortunate . She shows us how violent the recipients of this good can become and how they resist it and react to it , Religion that is. Who was the momentary messiah, the-on-the-spot-Jesus the Judas mother giving up her son in hopes that she might live? These are questions I thought OConnor was asking in A Good Man is Hard to Find.

Grandma, I believe it is all her making and doing. She brought the family to the situation. She provoked the Killer. The killers statements about his life especially his own father reflects he too was subject to religious questions. and the fact that the lifestyles of the southern whites were descending is evidence of societys demise is blended into the story, and presented through an interesting generation gap.

The gap to me is between the son, mother, kids and killer. The Son was a whimp and a mommas boy I could sense that from the start. The Son pays little attention to the grandmother and when he does he is often quite rude. I guess that is how his generation acted in those days and time.

The unruly children are representative of the breakdown of respect, and discipline, and are consequently a forecast of future generations. The way they treated the old woman was just like their

A Good Man is Hard to Find by Flannery O’Connor, tells the metaphorical tale of a familys fatal confrontation with The Misfit, an escaped serial killer. The incidents and characters throughout the story are aspects of a plot intending to symbolize the spiritual grace passed from one human to another, without regard for kindness or evil. Di Renzo says in his book American Gargoyles that many critics have objections to A good man is hard to find because of OConnors elaborate comic depiction of the grandmother and her family. He goes on to say that because the family is so ludicrous, so irredeemably gauche and petty, that it would be impossible for the reader to sympathize with them, even when the misfit is massacring them. The prominent character in OConnors story is the grandmother, who embodies this grace. By including imperfections in the development of the grandmothers character, OConnor shows the indiscriminatory property of grace she possesses.

The grandmother is the most developed character of the story. She contains several traits that coincide with the stereotypical elderly southern woman. Some of her notions are bizarre and trivial, and ignored by her family, such as the possible attack by The Misfit, a trip to Tennessee instead of Florida, and a fear of feline asphyxiation. John Wesley and June Star have little if any respect for their paternal grandmother. She has to go everywhere we go, whines June Star. The grandmother also dresses immaculately, even for a car trip, simply because in an accident anyone seeing her dead on the highway would know at once that she was a lady. She calls attention to pointless details such as mileage, the speed of the car, and scenic roadside attractions. Also typical, the grandmother holds a deep appreciation for incidents, which are of no value to others, such as the beauty of the landscape, respect for elders, and courting rituals during her childhood.

The character traits of the grandmother are in no way ideal. Not only is she random and frivolous, but she also demonstrates hypocrisy and manipulation. Arent you ashamed? she asks when June Star insults the owner of Red Sammys Barbecue, but experiences no personal shame at all in stating that Little niggers in the country dont have things like we do. The grandmother knows there is no secret compartment in the house she wishes to visit, yet she tells the children this compartment exists in order to convince Bailey into stopping. The familys inevitable demise originates when the grandmother sets them on the road to see this mysterious house, which begins the set-up for the spiritually symbolic interpretation of the story.

Upon meeting The Misfit, communication is almost solely between The Misfit and the grandmother. The grandmother shrieks, Youre The Misfit!...I recognized you at once to which The Misfit replies, It would have been better for all you of you, lady, if you hadnt of reckernized me. Without regard for her family, the grandmother thinks first of herself, crying, You wouldnt shoot a lady, would you? As she c

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