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Conceited Judgment And The Pitfall Of Pride

1592 words - 7 pages

In both of Flannery O’ Connor’s short stories “A Good Man is Hard to Find” and “Good Country People,” there is a central theme about the negative effects of trusting one’s own judgment too readily, as well as using religion to manipulate people. It is easy to see multiple connections to this theme in the two short stories, although the specific events themselves are different. For instance, Hulga from “Good Country People” believes her intelligence allows her to see people’s true character, but she is ultimately left alone full of despair when her faith in herself and her leg is ironically taken away. In the same way, the unnamed grandmother in “A Good Man is Hard to Find” feels her morals and experience in life allow her to judge other characters without fault. Therefore, the two short stories are similar to each other because the plots, characters, and misuses of religion reflect the central theme of trust and manipulation.
Although the details of these two stories differ in many aspects, they share a similar plot that follows a theme about people trusting their own judgments too easily. In “Good Country People,” Hulga meets a Bible salesman, Manly Pointer, who seems to have an innocent aura around him. He bored Mrs. Hopewell, Hulga’s mother, but she “couldn’t be rude to him. He was just good country people, you know” (Good Country 445). However, her personal view of him is tragically incorrect. Pointer persuades Hulga to go on a date with him, inviting Hulga out of her comfort zone. Hulga puts all her faith in her intelligence and common sense, thereby causing her to become vulnerable once Pointer reveals his true identity. He takes advantage of Hulga, stealing her prosthetic leg and abandoning her in the barn. She realizes that her intelligence was not enough to see through Pointer’s scheme and the only thing she put faith in, her prosthetic leg, is now taken from her. Similarly, the same tragic misjudgment happens through the grandmother in “A Good Man is Hard to Find.” The grandmother causes the car to crash into an embankment as a result of her poor decision to bring her cat and ends up leaving everyone injured. A few boys stop on the road and start walking towards them, guns in hands. At first, they seem as though they have come to help; however, the grandmother almost immediately recognizes their leader as the notorious Misfit. She constantly pleads for her life as the Misfit and his gang start dragging each family member to their death. The grandmother urges the Misfit to “Pray! Jesus, you ought not to shoot a lady. I’ll give you all the money I’ve got” (Hard to Find 436). The grandmother puts trust in thinking that her faith will save her and she tries to use it to manipulate the Misfit into saving her life. Yet, the Misfit ultimately kills the grandmother despite her begging. Both protagonists in the story have something precious stolen away from them. Life is essentially stolen from both; Hulga loses her prosthetic,...

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