Violence Leading to Redemption in Flannery O'Connor's Literature
Flannery O'Connor uses many of the same elements in almost all of her short stories. I will analyze her use of violence leading to the main character experiencing moral redemption. The use of redemption comes from the religious background of Flannery O'Connor. Violence in her stories is used as a means of revelation to the main character's inner self. The literature of Flannery O'Connor appears to be unbelievably harsh and violent. Her short stories characteristically conclude with horrific fatalities or an individual's emotional ruin. In all three of the stories, "Good Country People", "A Good Man Is Hard to Find", and "Revelation" the main characters experience some form of violence that leads to a learned emotional lesson.
The final scene of "A Good Man is Hard to Find", between the grandmother and the Misfit, is one of O'Connor's literal wicked truths. The grandmother is completely wrapped up in a hypocritical, condescending, selfish world, where she feels safe. That world instantly shatters at the moment just before she is shot, "His voice seemed about to crack and the grandmother's head cleared for an instant. She saw the man's face twisted close to her own as if he were going to cry and she murmured, Why you're one of my babies. You're one of my own children!'" (O'Connor 442). This is the grandmother's moment of redemption. Her head literally clears, although she appears disillusioned, and more than ever she becomes aware of the situation. All her shallow thoughts seem to disappear, and she sees the Misfit for who he really is. At that moment, at her point of redemption, this is when she reaches death, "She reached out and touched him on the shoulder. The Misfit sprang back as if a snake had bitten him and shot her three times through the chest. Then he put his gun down on the ground and took off his glasses and began to clean them." (O'Connor 442). I honestly didn't expect for the grandmother to be shot when I was reading it for the first time. After thinking about what kind of writer Flannery O'Connor is, it made sense that that was the way story would end. Though in "A Good Man is Hard To Find", the grandmother experiences her epiphany before the act of violence occurs. This is unlike the other stories where the lesson learned comes from the act of violence that the main character experiences first.
O'Connor's use of violence holds a similar yet restrained quality in "Good Country People", although there is a shift in its use and context. Hulga, like the grandmother, has her anti-social qualities, which, in Hulga's case, protect her from the world in which she feels vulnerable. The conflict/resolution to "Good Country People" comes at the end, when Hulga leads the Bible salesman to an abandoned barn with the hopes of seducing him. Little to her knowledge, the salesman is not a "good country" guy as she would like to believe. Hulga receives the salesman's kisses...