oconnor research paper - 1 Annamarie Sysling Christine...

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1 Annamarie Sysling Christine Haskill Literary Interpretations November 26, 2007 Flannery O’Connor’s work suggests a unique variation of Structuralism in which there is a very clear antagonist but a blurred representation of what is good. Applying this theory reveals the redemptive nature of her work as a whole as well as her character’s tendencies to morally and psychologically develop. “A Good Man is Hard to Find” and “The Lame Shall Enter First” provide clear and significant examples of O’Connor’s characteristic use of violence and moral ambiguity. Several critics have offered analysis regarding her utilization of darkly morbid characters in contrast to so- called protagonists; and by doing so; O’Connor reveals the unconventional nature of her fiction. “A Good Man is Hard to Find” and “The Lame Shall Enter First” may have differing plots and characters, however the overall meaning of both works is strikingly similar. In “A Good Man is Hard to Find” a grandmother (stuck in the idyllic world of the “Old South”) and her family take a trip by car, and end up getting in an automobile accident after getting lost down a southern dirt road. The grandmother, trying to rectify the situation, gets the attention of a car passing by which just so happens to be an infamous local fugitive. As the story reaches its climax The Misfit (as he is called) becomes the focal point of the story and murders the entire family but not before partaking in an enlightening yet tragic conversation between himself and the grandmother in which the true essence of both characters is revealed through the dreadful urgency of the situation. In “The Lame Shall Enter First” a man so characteristic of O’Connor’s work, as realized by critic Alfred Kazin, is one of the main
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2 Annamarie Sysling Christine Haskill Literary Interpretations November 26, 2007 and perhaps most transformed characters; this “resentful protagonist is a widow[er] alone in middle age, whose dream is the preservation of property as authority” (Kazin p.58). Sheppard (the transformed widower) is an academic realist to a fault; he is an emotionally unavailable father to Norton, and a mentor to nefariously demented Johnson. While Sheppard is gone at work, Norton is exposed to the true nature of Johnson. While at first Johnson is clearly an aggressively malevolent antagonist, once Sheppard’s inability to emotionally nurture Norton is revealed, it becomes clear that Johnson may actually provide Norton with a strange kind of spiritual comfort and reassurance. Ultimately Norton reaches his tragic end through suicide; this event proves simultaneously freeing for Norton and eye-opening for Sheppard. It seems clear that throughout O’Connor’s works there is undoubtedly a
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This note was uploaded on 04/07/2008 for the course LITERARY I 1100 taught by Professor Haskill during the Spring '08 term at Western Michigan.

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oconnor research paper - 1 Annamarie Sysling Christine...

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