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A Good Man Is Hard To Find, By Flannery O'connor And Hunters In The Snow, By Tobias Wolff

1322 words - 5 pages

Ours is a violent world where even the most common folk can find themselves faced with unspeakable horror through little or no intention. In Flannery O’Connor’s “A Good Man is Hard to Find,” the characters find themselves at the mercy of armed men because of a faulty memory and a few wrong turns. In Tobias Wolff’s “Hunters in the Snow,” a young man winds up shooting his friend in an apparent accident which culminates in a debate between saving that friend or whether it is more important to preserve the self. The stories work together to explore what humans will do when faced with terrible violence.
The story “A Good Man is Hard to Find” by Flannery O’Connor is famous for its use of unexpected violence. An unnamed grandmother pleads with her family to take a vacation to Eastern Tennessee, the home of her youth instead of Florida. “Here this fellow that calls himself The Misfit is aloose from the Federal Pen and headed toward Florida and you read here what it says he did to these people” (O’Connor). Here the grandmother does really believe that they will encounter these criminals, but instead tries to impose the fear of potential violence on her family to get her own way. When the grandmother meets Red Sam, she finds something of a kindred spirit, a person willing to judge and discuss disturbing events, even in front of young children. They judge the times based on the violence around them. “Everything is getting terrible. I remember the day you could go off and leave your screen door unlatched” (O’Connor). The text gives no indication that either has experienced violence first-hand, so their concerns are all based on what they hear on the radio and read in the newspaper.
Once the grandmother has convinced her son Bailey to give in to her desire to visit a house, which turned out to be in Georgia and not in Tennessee, the family experiences the first in a series of violent moments. The car turns over and the accident has left their automobile unable to go further. The children, seeing their first moment of violence are delighted and are only sad that no one has died in the collision. Since the kids have never experienced real loss or real pain before, the experience is one of novelty to them. When aid arrives, it is ironically in the form of The Misfit. The children’s enthusiasm and curiosity about why their Samaritan carries a gun is nothing. It is the grandmother who is nearly obsessed with violence who dooms the family. The final moments of the story are jarring, even more than half a century after they were written. While the family is taken into the woods and murdered one by one, grandmother sits begging The Misfit for her life by trying to appeal to his humanity. She asks him to pray and assures him that she believes that he is a good man at heart. This ploy does not work. “The Misfit sprang back as if a snake had bit him and shot her three times through the chest. Then he put his gun down on the ground and...

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