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Shattered Superiority In The Face Of Danger

1801 words - 8 pages

A superiority complex is an attitude of superiority that often conceals actual feelings of inferiority and failure. The majority of people who suffer from a superiority complex feel inadequate somewhere deep inside themselves and as a result, treat others as lesser. They consider themselves to be superior to those surrounding them and are often condescending, quick to judge, and observant of the flaws of others. Yet they somehow manage to always overlook their own imperfections. Both Connie, a teenage girl with an inclination towards independence who is enamored with herself, and Grandmother, a self proclaimed lady who is stuck in the past and has no qualms about manipulating others in order to obtain what she desires, have superiority complexes that do not shatter until they are in the face of peril. They each have their respective sudden realizations only moments before they are violently ripped out of their worlds, Grandmother through death, and Connie through abduction. As a result they never get the opportunity to utilize this newfound self awareness. Connie from Joyce Carol Oates's "Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been" and Grandmother from Flannery O'Conner's "A Good Man is Hard to Find" are both flawed characters who believe themselves to be superior to others until they reach an epiphany that arrives too late.
Connie, who is incredibly shallow, regards others as beneath her; however, in reality she strives for the attention of strangers because she feels insufficient. Connie feels bad about herself because she feels that her "mother [keeps] picking on her." She makes up for this insecurity by fabricating a false sense of superiority. She is so desperate to eradicate these flaws in herself, which she refuses to consciously acknowledge, that her primary focus is on maintaining her looks in order to attract the opposite sex. Yet, although she has shortcomings, such as the fact that she is exceedingly self absorbed, Connie, who is always "gawking at [her]self" because she "think[s] [she]'s so pretty," believes herself to be perfect (Oates 337). She "[knows] she [is] pretty, and that [is] everything" to her (Oates 337). Connie compares herself to others and recognizes those around her as incredibly flawed. She is quick to judge people she comes in contact with for their imperfections. For example, the first thought of Connie's sister that pops up into her head is that she is "plain and chunky and steady," and that was why "Connie had to hear her praised all of the time"(Oates 337) Connie is hasty to point out her sister's vices, and does not even consider that her sister might be praised because she is deserving of praise. Connie regards herself as better than her sister, so she constructs an excuse as to why her sister receives praise rather than Connie. It's ironic that Connie conceals her weaknesses from herself, yet this superiority complex is a weakness in and of itself. Arnold Friend recognizes Connie's ravenous need...

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