The stories entitled, ‘A Good Man Is Hard To Find’ and ‘Good Country People’ are two short stories written by Flannery O’Connor. The author is a Southern Gothic writer and her writings reflect the traditional characteristics of Gothic fiction, i.e. violence, horror and monstrosity. However, Flannery O’ Connor does not dwell on supernatural elements but rather focuses on the values of Christianity, exploring religious themes in her stories as is evident in these stories, ‘A Good Man Is Hard To Find’ and ‘Good Country People.’ Her writings reflect a Southern backdrop and a Roman Catholic vision and have an unexpected ending.
Even though Flannery O’Connor is a Southern Gothic writer, she deviates from this Southern Gothic style in many ways. Firstly, Flannery O’Connor uses violence as a means of redemption. Secondly, the regular use of unresolved endings in her stories. Flannery O’Connor style of writing is simplistic in nature. Another hallmark of her writing style includes her penchant for taking the point of view of a character in the story while at the same time maintaining the omniscient third-person. Flannery O’Connor’s style of writing reflect objectivity and also impartiality but they also provide an insight of what is going on in the minds of the characters in her stories.
In both stories entitled, ‘A Good Man Is Hard To Find’ and ‘Good Country People’ the lives of families are altered after trusting a stranger, and the characters in the story are misled. Each story examines the theme of Christian theology and the fallen nature of man (O’connor, Flannery). Both are disturbing stories and both of these stories fit in with the Southern Gothic genre, which has a very disturbing feeling. This type of literature often uses supernatural elements and grotesque elements that focus on people from the southern United States and their belief in Christianity. These stories are an example of Southern Gothic writing that portrays unsettling and disturbing events and disturbing characters. Elements of irony, humour and danger are intertwined in the stories. Violence and barbarism is an integral part in the works of Flannery O’Connor and is evident in these stories. Flannery O’ Connor describes her work as ‘Catholic realism.’
In the story ‘A Good Man Is Hard To Find’ the reader at first finds the story humorous because the reader is unaware of what will happen in the end. When one thinks of tone, one needs to think of the choice of words and diction and the action that a story contains. This story is a combination of a plethora of tones. It contains irony, humour and tones of severity. The tone changes rapidly from a happy tone describing a family going to a vacation to a frightening, morbid tone and plays an integral part in increasing the effectiveness of the story. The tone is also cynical and it is disguised under humour. The tone changes from a happy tone and darkens into a frightening tone with the arrival of Misfit and one can fathom the terrible danger that the family are caught in. The tone is a juxtaposition between comical tone and heartless murder. The tone is placid (Booth et al). There is a sense of peacefulness as there is no building action. There is a flawless transition of events in time that makes the systematic murder of the family brutal and very unexpected. The tone of the story is placid, grotesque and caricaturing. Cynicism also pervades her writing.
Detachment is an important element in the writing style of Flannery O’Connor. In a detached style, the narrator writes the plot of a story in a manner that the reader is unable to connect with the characters. Simple syntax makes the context clear. The author uses situational irony and verbal irony especially in the case of the grandmother.
The tone in the story ‘Good Country People’ is judgmental, playful and comic. It has a deeply sardonic tone. There is irony in the title itself. Flannery O’Connor often wrote in a Southern Gothic style, using regional settings and characters that were grotesque in nature. The genre is Southern Gothic (Booth et al). The author uses symbolism throughout the story. The country serves as a symbol of innocence. The small confined hayloft serves as a parallel to the trapped feeling that Joy feels staying on the farm. The author uses irony and sarcasm throughout the story through the use of a third person point of view and wants the reader to consider the prevalence of false appearance even in the apparent pure sections of society. The tone of the story shifts from trust and innocence to panic and alarm when Joy softly asks Manly for her leg.
The tone of Flannery O’Conner is best described as southern gothic, which has a style of literature that has disturbed and flawed characters in sinister and macabre situations. Her style of writing explores morality and religion and how often thee two elements collide. The characters in the works of Flannery O’Conner are psychologically disturbed characters and the settings are southern settings. There are shocking and grotesque twists at the end of her stories as is prevalent in the stories, ‘A Good Man Is Hard To Find’ and ‘Good Country People’. There is an excellene use of foreshadowing as well in her works (Booth et al). Even though many of her stories begin in realistic settings like in a farm or a home, the style of her writing does not fall under realism. Writing during the social and racial changes overcoming the South, Flannery O’Connor uses the tension in her writings embedding it into the dialects and her characters. The style of the author is thus dark and shocking. The style of Flannery O’Connor is different from other writers writing in her genre. The author uses violence as a means of redemption, an unexpected twist in the narrative and the consistent use of unresolved endings (Booth et al). The writer uses a simplistic style, which makes her barbaric grotesque ends of her stories more effective. Thus, the stories of Flannery O’Connor are grotesque stories written in simplistic style, which have macabre endings.
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