Investigation Into Landscape Essay

1629 words - 7 pages

Flannery O'Connor sets her stories in the rural south, a place culturally dependent on classic antebellum sentiments of aristocracy. Annie Proulx relies on the cowboy cliché of rough independence by setting her narratives in the rural western state of Wyoming. The cultural sentiments in both regions, segregation and classism in the case of O'Connor; and independence and loneliness in the case of Proulx, act as the impenitence of conflict in many of the authors respective short stories. In O'Connors “A Good Man is Hard to Find” it is a dreamt up antebellum past that sparks tension in a landscape of cultural uncertainty that motivated the grandmothers actions, leading to conflict with the Misfit and her family’s death. In Proulx's “A Lonely Coast” the expanse of the West, is analogized to the unknown darkness of the ocean, paralleling Josanna downfall into an abusive relationship and her own death. O'Connor relies on opinions rooted in the past and Proulx uses the hardships of the present, yet both landscapes cause conflict central to their characters' downfalls.
It is in a landscape of cultural uncertainty that Flannery O'Connor establishes her story, “A Good Man is Hard to Find”. She examines the natural tension between old aristocracy and progression through the grandmother, who stuck in antiquity and possesses a classist sense of morality. In the uncertain southern landscape, her aristocratic leanings push her family to their deaths. Her landscape is rooted in old southern aristocracy as the physical environment conjurors up memories of the past and an older way of life. “'Look at that graveyard!' the grandmother said, pointing it out. “That was the old family burying ground. That belonged to the plantation” (O'Connor 120). As evident by her fixation over a past world of plantations and ancestry she sympathizes with the past, the antebellum South. The grandmother further references General Sherman, plantations, her rich ancestry, and old fashioned gentlemanly courting, all of which point to her existence in an antiquated cultural setting.
In such an environment, the grandmother is naturally distant from her reality, a place in transition away from the old South. Comparing her to the families mother, this distance becomes clear as the two women are projections of their landscapes through their respective fashions. The mother is seen as, “a young women in slacks, whose face was as broad and innocent as a cabbage and was tied around with a green head-kerchief that had two points on the top like rabbit's ears” (Proulx 117). Although depicted in an almost caricature style, the young mother, a person distance in time from the old ways, is a representative of the new South. She stands vastly apart from the grandmother, who is touted with wearing “big black valise” and “white cotton gloves” to give the impression of an aristocratic lady (Proulx 118). The grandmother is thus living in the past landscape during the present setting, an unstable...

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