A “Good” Man Is Hard To Find

A “Good” Man Is Hard To Find

A “Goodman” Is Hard To Find I had never really analyzed any work of literature before this class. I read books and stories for fun but never to analyze them. I now understand that in any piece of literature there is always a background or hidden agenda that the author wants the reader to get from the reading. In this paper I am going to analyze Nathaniel’s Hawthorne’s “Young Goodman Brown” to find the meaning. In “Young Goodman Brown” the protagonist experiences redemption, and through this redemption comes to an uncertain truth about himself and his life. This uncertain truth lies within his “faith” in himself, his community, and his wife.

Young Goodman Brown is initially characterized in the story as a good Puritan who is devoted to his wife, the community, and the Christian way of life. His wife, Faith, symbolizes his faith in himself, the community, and “Faith” herself. Goodman Brown is struggling with temptation, the devil, and the ways of the Christian faith. He doesn’t feel that he can face this struggle. He has a low level of confidence in himself, as did the author, Hawthorne himself. Hawthorne wrote this story during a time when he himself was growing up doubting the Puritan faith. This story takes place at least a generation after the Salem Witch Trials.

Both Brown and Hawthorne exhibit doubt in themselves as well as their Roland 2 ancestors. Goodman Brown is also struggling with his past. He must take a journey into the forest, which represents temptation and evil, but can also represent good. Salem can be described as a good place as well as an evil place. Several events take place during Brown’s journey. On his way into the forest, Brown meets his “fellow traveler”, who is easily recognized as the devil. The devil tries to get Brown to crossover from the Christian way of life to sin by offering his serpentine staff. He makes several advances, but Brown continually refuses.

The devil tells Brown that his family has had dealings with him in the past (269). This makes Brown even more aware of his faith. He wants to remain a good man no matter what his ancestors were accused of, which was witchcraft and deviltry. Going on about his trip, Brown passes many of his mentors including Goody Cloyse and Deacon Gookin. He also passes his wife, “Faith”. When he realizes that they have all given in to the temptations of the devil, especially “Faith”, the Christian beliefs he is trying so hard to hold on to are shaken from him. He screams out, “My Faith is gone!

There is no good on earth” (272). Finally, at the end of his journey, Goodman Brown witnesses the community as a whole participating in satanic acts. When he sees this, it destroys any and all faith he has in the community and himself. He is happy with Roland 3 the community and his wife before his journey, but now he is convinced that they are all sinners. He suspects everyone that he held so close of sin. In essence Young Goodman Brown becomes distrusting and sad. He thinks he is better than everyone else in the community is. He becomes confident that he is the only good person in the community.

He is not like his ancestors after all, so he thinks. He becomes “A stern, a sad, a darkly meditative, a distrustful, if not a desperate man (276). Young Goodman Brown has misunderstood the meaning of “Faith” in its simplicity, expecting to live life free of doubt. He is not a good man as his name suggests. He is like his ancestors, casting doubt upon his peers, isolating himself as if he can not relate to any of his fellow townspeople. Young Goodman Brown, in his initiation into the Christian ways of life, comes to the uncertain truth that there is evil in everyone. Upon coming to this truth, he is forever changed.

He is not a “good” man, but in fact a man. A man with doubts, a man who is unsure of himself, and a man who is unsure of life, as was Nathaniel Hawthorne. Nathaniel Hawthorne was an unhappy person his entire life and he was never satisfied with any of his accomplishments. You can almost say that he wrote this story in his own likeness. As readers are frequently made to feel that exploring Hawthorne’s characters they are also exploring some part of themselves (265), it seems as Roland 4 though Hawthorne was exploring a part of himself. He was coming to terms with his past.

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A Good Man is Hard to Find

A Good Man is Hard to Find

Flannery OConnor “A Good Man Is Hard To Find” A Southern American novelist and short story writer, Miss O Connors career spanned the 1950s and early 60s, a time when the South was dominated by Protestant Christians. OConnor was born and raised Catholic. She was a fundamentalist and a Christian moralist whose powerful apocalyptic fiction is focused in the South. Flannery OConnor was born March 25, 1925, in Savannah, Georgia. O Connor grew up on a farm with her parents Regina and Edward O Connor. At the age of five, she taught a chicken to walk backwards.

OConnor attended Georgia State College for women, now Georgia College, in Milledgeville, majoring in sociology. She had showed a gift for satirical writing, as well as cartooning since she was a child. By the end of her undergraduate education, OConnor knew that writing was her true passion. She spent two years at the prestigious School for Writers at the State University of Iowa on scholarship, receiving a masters degree of fine arts in 1947 (Candee 318).

In 1950, she had a near fatal attack of systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), a chronic inflammatory connective tissue disorder. at causes periods of joint pain and fatigue, and can attack the hearts, lungs, and kidneys. Her father died of the disease when she was fifteen (Blythe 49). OConnor would have to walk with crutches for the rest of her life. By her death at the age of 39, Flannery OConnor won a prominent place in modern American literature. She was an anomaly among post-World War II writers, a Roman Catholic from the BibleBelt South, whose stated purpose was to reveal the mystery of Gods grace in everyday life.

Aware that few readers shared her faith, OConnor chose to depict salvation through shocking, often violent action upon characters who were spiritually or physically grotesque (Ryiley 334). Flannery OConnors significance as a writer is her original use of religion. Like no other short story writer, she dramatizes religious themes in her fiction stories. She is established as one of the most gifted and original fiction writers of the 20th century. “Everything That Rise must converge,” and ” Revelation” won first prize in the O. Henry awards for short stories.

The Life You Save May Be Your Own” and A “Circle in the Fire” won second prize in the O. Henry awards. “The Complete Stories of Flannery OConnor” won the National Book Award in 1971 (Bloom 145-146). O Connors work is inspired by the sense of the mystery of human nature. She tends to use good vs. evil and death to shock and startle her readers into an awareness of the theological truth of faith, the fall, the redemption, and the judgment (Riley 367). Some critics describe her writing as harsh and negative while people in the religious community wanted a happier communication of the faith.

OConnor described her characters as “poor afflicted in both mind and body, with little or at best a distorted sense of spiritual purpose”(Harris & Fitzerald 336). OConnor claims she understood the universe created by God as good and evil. In a letter to a friend, she complained about a review that called her short story collection, A Good Man is hard To Find, brutal and sarcastic. “The stories are hard,” she wrote. “But they are hard because there is nothing harder or less sentimental than Christian realism”(qtd. In Harris & Fitzerald 336).

OConnor likes to focus on the rough, often ugly memories of the place she knew best, the rural South. She saw her world as sacrament, brushed with grace, twisted, beaten, but still straining toward her belief in God. The settings of her stories and novels are either Georgia or Tennessee, often backwoods or rural areas. She gives her characters a southern accent because this is the area she knows best. O Connor uses common symbols, such as sunsets that resemble blood drenched Eucharistic host, preening peacocks that represent Christs transfiguration, and the trees themselves writhe in spiritual agony (Bloom 49).

Some critics say that she is trying to convert her readers, whom she assumes are non-believers. The story “A Good Man is Hard To Find” begins with a family planing to take a vacation to Florida. The grandmother who does not want to take the vacat….. ion in Florida is persuading the family. She has read about a crazed killer by the name of the Misfit, who is on the run, heading for Florida. The mambas of her family ignore the grandmother. On the day of the trip, ironically, the grandmother is dressed in her Sunday best. She is decked in white gloves and navy blue dress with matching hat.

She is the first one in the car and ready to go. O’Connor is getting the reader to visualize the Southern culture. The grandmothers purpose of dressing this way is to be recognized as a lady, in case someone saw her dead on the highway. This tells me the grandmothers thoughts of death are shallow. Later in the story, the Misfit says, “There never was a body that gave the undertaker a tip. ” (qtd, in DiYanni 202) The grandmothers readiness for death is an indication that she does not want to go where there is a prisoner on the loose. However, her readiness for death changes when she recognizes the Misfit.

As the trip progresses, the children act like brats. O’Connor is illustrating the lost respect for the family and elders. The family’s encounter with Red Sammy Butts serves as another way O’Connor expresses how trust and respect have begun to wear away. The grandmother makes the mistake of telling the children the story of a nearby house that has a secret panel. The children scream until the father, Bailey, gives in and takes them to see the house. On the way down the long windy road that leads to the house, the cat gets out of his cage and jumps on Bailey’s shoulder, resulting in the car being overturned.

As everyone is getting themselves together, a car with three men approaches. The grandmother recognizes the Misfit at once. The Misfit reveals himself as polite and sociable and even apologizes to the grandmother for Baileys rudeness to her. However, the Misfit does not waste any time as he asks one of his cronies to escort Bailey and John Wesley off into the woods to meet their fate. The grandmother and the Misfit engage in a conversation, which is supposed to have a religious meaning. The grandmother tries to appeal to the Misfit by saying he isnt a bit common.

The Misfit goes on to tell a story about his family, and how he was the type of child to question everything. He continues on to talk about periods of a criminals life. The grandmothers prayer of advice gives evidence that they are on two different levels of understanding the Christian faith. OConnor gives the reader the impression that he is a prophet gone wrong. After the Misfit has the cronies take the mother, daughter, and baby to the woods, the grandmother is left alone with the Misfit, who continues to talk about how Jesus was punished.

However, the Misfit has escaped punishment. The grandmother responds in the only way she knows how to by clinging to her superficial beliefs about “good blood” and behaving as a gentleman would. She has limited understanding of religion and cannot even begin to connect with the Misfit. The grandmother notices the Misfit as he is about to cry. She reaches out her hand and says, “Why youre one of my babies” The Misfit, who is affected by what she says, jumps back and shoots her three times.


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