A Good Man is Hard to Find and All The Troubles of The World: Comparative Analysis

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Isaac Asimov and Flannery O’ Connor are both renowned authors alive during the 20th century known specifically for their short stories. Isaac Asimov was a Russian Jew who immigrated with his family to America, while Asimov studied the sciences and actually worked as a professor of biochemistry. While he really did pursue the sciences, his science-fiction works bear a preponderance of respect as Asimov’s intellectual legacy resides mostly in his literary works. While he was a particularly prolific writer who produced an exceptionally copious amount of books, around 500 including book including works which he edited, and 90,000 letters and postcards. However All The Troubles of The World in particular holds a few themes analogous to those found in Flannery O’ Connor’s short story A Good Man is Hard to Find. While Flannery O’ Conner wrote primarily Southern Gothic style literature, a subgenre of Gothic . For context Gothic literature refers to fiction with dark, death, dread, narratives and imagery, the subgenre Southern Gothic is the mostly the same except it takes place in the American South. O'Connor was a known devout Catholic, from 1956 to 1964, she authored in excess of 100 book reviews for two Catholic diocesan newspapers within Georgia: The Bulletin and The Southern Cross. O’ Conner’s books demonstrate O’ Conner’s strong connection with religion as the Christian themes are abundantly clear; this remains a consistent trend throughout her writings. Despite the fact that science-fiction and Religion come very close to representing opposites to one another, A Good Man is Hard to Find and All The Troubles of The World, as previously mentioned, share many themes. Both books existing as products of the 1950’s quite possibly carried inspiration from the social and cultural climate of the time; primarily the questionability of human morals which grew as WWII came to an end, issues for returning veterans arrose, and the start of the Cold War which only served to multiply the questionability of humanity’s morals and standards at the time. Each book tends to have themes which implicitly critique human nature, and each book contains segments where the malice actions of humans produce a rather dark result which symbolizes the climax of the story.

In Flannery O’ Conner’s A Good Man is Hard to Find O'Connor depicts a family who are always at some sort of odds with each other as they go and take a road trip. The main Character who supports the themes the most is the grandmother. The book has themes based primarily in morality and religion. The grandmother who’s known for preaching morals and her impresses her own “ladieness” unto her family members and anyone else. The grandmother is set on believing in these morals which she believes to be objective yet it served her no good. She genuinely believes in praying to Jesus and being a good Christian whenever she can, however she demonstrates many acts of selfishness as she manipulates her family in order to fit her own desires. This manipulative behavior portrayed by the grandmother resulted in the grandmother getting herself killed her and her family killed as well. Her preaching of Christian values to the misfit mentioned earlier did not save her. Her desire/obsession to be lady like, all she ever seemed to care about, did not save her. Despite the fact that the misfit activity denounced Jesus, the grandmother tries to get the misfit to pray to Jesus, even though Jesus never did her any good; only when the misfit made the family look death in the face did they express love and care for one another. Prior to the grandmother getting shot she tells the misfit “you could be one of my children,'' she says this as she begins thinking about more than herself and sees the misfit as someone's child, another valuable life. He shoots her as she only thought about others in the face of death, this is why he says “She would of been a good woman, if it had been somebody there to shoot her every minute of her life.' It appears that the book challenges the use of religion as the grandmother is the most infatuated by it and yet she is manipulative and does not act with Christian morals. The misfit it a pretty evil guy but he’s the only thing that has brought the grandmother close to God as she experiences divine grace in the last moments of her life.

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In Asimov’s book All The Troubles of The World, Asimov describes a highly advanced AI computer referred to as Multivac. Multivac receives a very precise set of data on each person on planet earth including an individual’s desires, history, personality, and other such information, to extrapolate scenarios and predict future crimes. Multivac’s job in specific is to analyze all of the information that exists on the planet, to find as many solutions and answers as it possible can. Through utilization of its almost endless knowledge, most issues which plague humanity have been solved. Multivac predicts a murder to happen soon, Multivac says the murder will be committed by a man by the name of Joseph Manners. Joseph is put on house arrest as he and confusion arises amongst police as Multivac says the muder has become more probable. Then Ben, Joseph’s son, enters the story and goes to ask Multivac how can he help his father. Multivac proceeds to print him a list of instructions he needs to follow which would actually result in Multivac’s death; the authorities realized Ben was a minor so his information was an extension of his father’s. Bens instructions were led him to almost killing Multivac, but police intervene. The murder Multivac predicted was his own, and Ben was only following instructions he only inquired for due to his father’s arrest, so both Father and son were go on with life of anything. Multivac is then asked “what do you yourself want more than anything else?'. Multivac then responded “ I want to die.” Unlike A Good Man is Hard to Find, the characters don’t seem to embody specific themes, also All The Troubles of The World does not hint at themes or do any sort of foreshadowing in the story. This goes to show dramatically different writing styles can achieve communication of the same premise. As Multivac deals with the psychological issues of every individual, everyday, it’s driven to rather die than to sift the darkness to prevent murders, and deal with the burden of everyone’s problems. Humans have so many issues and bad traits, that it pushed the most intelligent AI supercomputer to desire death. All The Troubles of The World, similar to A Good Man is Hard To Find, makes commentary regarding the issues of humans, whether is be moral or psychological. Finally the emotional development of Multivac may be what induced suicidal behavior, as it began imitating humans the more it spoke worked with them. As he gained humanity it could no longer handle the responsibilities it carried. This ( if true) would be representing commentary based on the nature of humans, this would serve as another shared theme between the two books despite the massive contrast between the two authors and their books.

The idea of the American dream echoed across nations and roared within America; the spreading of communism during the 1950s was what the concept of the American dream was meant to overpower and discredit. Perpetuation of the American dream was also meant to muffle the sounds of the suffering in America. The suffering of Soldiers who had fought for their country’s freedom, returned to their homeland void of basic necessities. They returned without housing or the money they would have acquired not going to war and climbing the corporate job ladder. All the dilemmas which contributed to the social/societal climate of the 1950s were products of WWII. The world remained in a damaged state after WWII; violent never existed in such abundance until WWII. WWII had just ended in the previous decade and nations still needed more time to heal from mankind’s worst display of their violent capabilities. The importance of how WWII changed society is due to how that change is going to impact books written from 1930-1960( including A Good Man is Hard to Find and All The Troubles of The World ). Hypothetically if a lack of mutual respect between strangers was a societal occurrence/issue as a result of the social/societal climate at the time at which the hypothetical book was written, examining and paying extra attention to how characters interact would be a good way to see if that societal issue was repurposed for telling this story. For example; The events leading up to WWII are plentiful, many of these events served to enable Adolf Hitler’s rise to power in Germany. Arguably these events made Hitler’s political conquest easier, withal the fact that Hitler rose to power through the use of fear and rhetoric of an accusatory nature serves as the optimal example of how delicate and unstable human morality is. The fact that an entire nation turned a blind eye to such crimes against humanity based off the persuasive, angry rhetoric of one man goes to show humans do not have a solid grasp of ethics. If morality were innate within the human psyche than an entire nation would not have sat back and allowed such atrocities to happen, yet many atrocities did happen as Hitler persecuted ethic minorities throughout Eastern Europe. In a time so plagued with issues of many different varieties, it would make sense for someone to write something like All The Troubles of The World where the intelligence or a computer aides to prevent the violent tendencies of humans.

With the moral reprehensibility of what happened in WWII it makes sense that the mechanical savior who prevents humans from being hurt by their own flawed nature, could not bare the worries and concern of all the world’s issues. The experiencing of moral incompetence on such a massive scale also provides rational reason to why both of these post-WWII era books have dark themes regarding human nature and morality. In WWII Mankind decided to release their unfettered wrath upon each other, any mental security pertaining to the collective understanding of morals shattered. It's not surprising that this period of time would garner books with darker themes.

The purpose of themes in these books is assisting to communicate a specific idea narrative which the book is trying to convey. Examining similarities and differences when comparing the themes of multiple books is essential to stronger comprehension of the material. When two books are examined and the reader searches for thematic differences/similarities, the reader over time will develop skills which allows them to more efficient at spotting themes and understanding them. Anything which seems like it may hold importance, seems to be re-occurring throughout a story, or that seems like a message which would be a logical premise for the story to be based on, it may be a theme meant to assist in understanding the story to the fullest extent. To learn how to analyze passages or scenes to find any form of thematic importance, expands a reader’s ability to find deeper meaning in a story, or relate a topic from the book they’re to something in the real world despite maybe that topic being highly symbolic or figurative. in A Good Man is Hard to Find a good example of symbolism masking a theme which holds importance( to some ) in the real world is how “original sin” is written about near the end of the book. This concept from christianity which states we are born with original sin as we inherited it from Adam and Eve, if we do not repent we will go to hell, even if we do not remember doing it or know if it happened. This misfit talks about his prison life in the same dialogue in which he speaks about why he thinks Jesus’s ways are flawed. The religious theme is obvious; misfit’s anger is partly driven by him being sent to prison for a crime he does not remember. He doesn’t even think he committed the crime and in the end the punishment was the same. Even if some of the underlying messages that a story is trying to convey is not pertinent to real life, or do not communicate a bigger more interesting topic/idea, themes are still needed as the themes within a story provide structure. Without themes stories fail to be coherent, or can lack deeper meaning.

While the two books appear very different in nature at first, it seems morals and humanity represent primary themes in these books. Asimov waited to start revealing the more significant themes. It was not until the very end that the book display human nature behind to much of a burden to bare on the most intelligence entity on the planet. Flannery did quite the contrary as the grandmother’s pseudo religious values and obsession with being a “lady” seem to do nothing but support her narcissism. As she preaches her religious values, religions becomes a key element to the story almost immediately, and towards the end, dominates most of the conversation. The grandmother demonstrates something which is supposed to be good ( the altruistic values of religion ) and then twist it. Additionally each book seems to present the theme more and more towards the end; the end in A Good Man is Hard to Find entails a conversation centered around the theme of morality as she fines grace in her last moments and religion as the grandmother talks with the misfit about Jesus ( in a manipulative fashion as she continues to misuse religion. ) Then at the end of All The Troubles of The Worlds Multivac meticulous orchestration of what happened in the book just to find a way to stop dealing with the craziness of mankind. While certain previously mentioned historical events were still of the utmost importance at the time, there is not the largest amount of thematic evidence to suggest these books had significant influence as a result of the societal changes happening at the time. While the 40’s and 50’s go down in history as times of constant negative change and turmoil and moral ineptitude, however the only thematic evidence of these historical events influencing these books is the pessimistic view the authors seem to have towards humanity. One observation found when relating the two pieces of literature by comparing was premises the stories were built around, Flannery’s work was on mistakes of men, and the other, a robot wanting to die after witnessing the mistakes of men. The books are oldy different, as different as they can be in many respects. Flannery foreshadows while Asimov left information scares building up suspense and anticipation. Despite the large discrepancies between the two writing styles were immediately visible, although in theme they found common ground. Through examination of these two literary works, themes can be identified regardless of symbolism which muddies the comprehensive clarity of said book, and regardless of vague passages meant to confuse the reader.

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A Good Man is Hard to Find and All The Troubles of The World: Comparative Analysis. (2022, July 14). Edubirdie. Retrieved July 23, 2024, from https://edubirdie.com/examples/a-good-man-is-hard-to-find-and-all-the-troubles-of-the-world-comparative-analysis/
“A Good Man is Hard to Find and All The Troubles of The World: Comparative Analysis.” Edubirdie, 14 Jul. 2022, edubirdie.com/examples/a-good-man-is-hard-to-find-and-all-the-troubles-of-the-world-comparative-analysis/
A Good Man is Hard to Find and All The Troubles of The World: Comparative Analysis. [online]. Available at: <https://edubirdie.com/examples/a-good-man-is-hard-to-find-and-all-the-troubles-of-the-world-comparative-analysis/> [Accessed 23 Jul. 2024].
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