“The Life You Save May be Your Own', 'Good Country People', and 'A Good Man is Hard to Find”: Comparative Analysis

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American author, Flannery O’ Connor believed in shocking her audience with exorbitant characters and usually aggressive plots to get her point across. Her short story, “The Life You Save May be Your Own, Good Country People, and A Good Man is Hard to Find,” includes a traveling handyman lures a deaf woman, a skewed Bible salesman, and a garrulous grandmother recognizes a roaming bandit face off on a dirt road. O’ Connor additionally used her Christian faith and personal interest in moral, ethical, and social issues to question life and the inherent nature of society. The main conflict of good and evil, defined by O’ Connor’s own religious views, perpetuates through the false perception embedded in her short stores. All main character’s awareness of one another’s various psychological and physical differences cause them to categorize each other as purely good or essentially evil. Flannery O’Connor’s stories “The Life You Save May be Your Own, Good Country People, and A Good Man is Hard to Find,” uses irony ultimately comment on the risks of making a false assumption of others based on their differences of words, religious beliefs, or a false sense of authority.

Marry Flannery O’ Connor was born on March 25, 1925, to Edward and Regina Klein O’ Connor in Savannah, Georgia. Her family lived in Milledgeville, Georgia for most of her childhood. As an only child, she was very close to both of her parents who strict devout Catholics. All her work intrinsically includes allusions to her deep faith in Catholicism and her belief in the mysticism of God. At an early age, O’Connor’s interests were drawing and writing. As she moved on in her life to college her interests grew but she never lost her love for art. Flannery O’Connor loved peacocks. She owned many of these majestic creatures as well as poultry by watching them during her past time. Once she began writing, O’ Connor dropped her first name, Mary, and strictly wrote under the pen-name, Flannery O’ Connor. She inherited a disease known disseminated lupus the same disease her father died from. She published two novels but is perhaps best known for her short stories which explored small-town life with stinging language, offbeat humor, and delightfully unsavory scenarios.

Flannery O’ Connor begins her short story, “ “The Life You Save May be Your Own,” by introducing the characters where the one-handed drifter, Tom Shiflet, wanders into the lives of an old woman named, Mrs. Crater and her deaf, mute daughter, Lucynell Crater. Though Mrs. Crater is self-assured, her isolated home is falling apart. At first, she may be suspicious of Shiflet’s motives whom he offers to help around the house, but O’Connor reveals the old women to be just as scheming as her unexpected guest and rattles the readers’ presumptions about who has the upper hand. For O’Connor, no subject was off-limits. Though she was a devout catholic, she was not afraid to explore the possibility of pious thought and impious behavior coexisting in the same persona.

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In “Good Country People,” uses southern Gothicism or genre of fiction in which the author, O’Connor, uses damaged or even delusional characters, grotesque events and dark humor to reveal the moral shortcomings and problems with society. Flannery O’ Connor uses irony to point out the importance of Christ’s grace in a sinful and flawed world. The story shows a “sacramental view of life,”(Hall 28) when the character had the epiphany in which “Joy-Hulga,” realizes when Manley Pointer pulls out his big Bible and tells the “shocked” Joy-Hulga who finally realizes she has been duped and is not as smart as she thought. Joy-Hulga views her leg as a permanent setback, saying that if she did not have it, “she would be far away from these red hills and a good country people” (Clasby 381). Joy-Hulga faces waves of angers for her legs for personal obstacles. She “Joy Hulga,” is too naïve and scared to ever leave her town and home, where the benefit of comfort outweighed her annoyance and unaware of true evil, Manley Pointer. Joy-Hulga views Manley Pointer as naïve and inferior to herself belittling him by telling her mother to “get rid of the salt of the earth,” in reference to him (Flora 57). Though Joy-Hulga is a victim of judgement from her mother, she is not innocent of making false assumptions of others. Joy-Hulga’s plan to seduce Manley Pointer contributes to her feelings of superiority over him which contrasts with Mrs. Hopewell’s affirmative regard for him. She now is pushed toward the cope of achieving Christ’s grace in changing her ways. Flannery O’ Connor’s stories, “Good Country People,” symbolizes the characters as flawed and grotesque.

In “A Goodman is Hard to Find,” O’Connor redeems an insufferable grandmother for forgiving a hardened criminal and endangered her family. The story is set in rural countryside in the early 1950s. The settings play an important role because the grandmother’s selfish acts’ views on society reflect that time period. As the story unfolds the setting insight to where the family will eventually meet their doom on the ride. The grandmother realizes that the house she is thinking of is in Tennessee and not in Georgia. When she found out, she startled, made his son, Bailey, lose control and collide the car into an accident. No one is hurt until the “Misfit,” shows up and endangers her family by saying she recognizes him “Misfit,” as the loose criminal, so the Misfit killed the entire family one by one until the grandmother left herself for bargaining her life. Her offered “bargaining,” is not enough so she got to shoot 3 times and left them all died. Though the grandmother pays the price for this redemption, she is forced to confront the nuance in moments of Misfit, considered purely violent or evil.

Through the plot of “The Life You Save May be Your Own, Good Country People, and A Good Man is Hard to Find,” Flannery O’ Connor presents a story dealing with mistaken perceptions of authority through the differences of others. The characters are blind to the true disposition of others, these individuals lose sight of how to accept differences and disabilities. The main characters slowly disprove traditional Southern stereotypes by deceiving those close to them “own family members.” O’Connor uses her classic, “Southern Gothic “style and stereotype of Southern people to show the real “good people” do not exist. Learning to accept the differences of others and negating false assumption is expressed through O’Connor’s short stories.

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“The Life You Save May be Your Own’, ‘Good Country People’, and ‘A Good Man is Hard to Find”: Comparative Analysis. (2022, August 12). Edubirdie. Retrieved April 13, 2024, from https://edubirdie.com/examples/the-life-you-save-may-be-your-own-good-country-people-and-a-good-man-is-hard-to-find-comparative-analysis/
““The Life You Save May be Your Own’, ‘Good Country People’, and ‘A Good Man is Hard to Find”: Comparative Analysis.” Edubirdie, 12 Aug. 2022, edubirdie.com/examples/the-life-you-save-may-be-your-own-good-country-people-and-a-good-man-is-hard-to-find-comparative-analysis/
“The Life You Save May be Your Own’, ‘Good Country People’, and ‘A Good Man is Hard to Find”: Comparative Analysis. [online]. Available at: <https://edubirdie.com/examples/the-life-you-save-may-be-your-own-good-country-people-and-a-good-man-is-hard-to-find-comparative-analysis/> [Accessed 13 Apr. 2024].
“The Life You Save May be Your Own’, ‘Good Country People’, and ‘A Good Man is Hard to Find”: Comparative Analysis [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2022 Aug 12 [cited 2024 Apr 13]. Available from: https://edubirdie.com/examples/the-life-you-save-may-be-your-own-good-country-people-and-a-good-man-is-hard-to-find-comparative-analysis/

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