Flannery O’Connor “The novelist with Christian concerns will find in modern life distortions which are repugnant to him, and his problem will be to make them appear as distortions to an audience which is used to seeing them as natural; and he may be forced to take ever more violent means to get his vision across to this hostile audience. When you can assume that your audience holds the same beliefs you do, you can relax a little and use more normal ways of talking to it; when you have to assume that it does not, then you have to make your vision apparent by shock — to the hard of hearing you shout, and for the blind you draw large and startling figures. — Flannery O'Connor [From the Flannery O'Connor Special Collection, via EDSITEment reviewed Internet Public Library]. Take A Moment: Paraphrase what O’Connor is suggesting in this quote. (#1 on worksheet) Gain some contextual understanding of the story. Identify and explain some allusions and tone in the work. Identify and analyze literary devices in the story. In your group, please discuss your reaction to the story. What did you think about its strange ending? Record your group’s responses on the worksheet. (#2) Flannery O’Connor was born in Georgia (1925-1964) Catholic writer who often discussed issues of morality and faith in her writings. Humor was always evident in her writings and her interviews: "When I was six I had a chicken that walked backward and was in the Pathé News. I was in it too with the chicken. I was just there to assist the chicken but it was the high point in my life. Everything since has been anticlimax.”[ Father died of a form of lupus when she was 15. The same disease would take her at 39. Her mother lived to be 97. O’Connor was a Catholic in the middle of the protestant Bible belt. She lectured on her faith and was considered a strongly Christian writer despite her grotesque views. Wrote in “Southern Gothic Style” – a style that relied on supernatural, irony or unusual plot but served as social commentary of the south. Also considered a Southern grotesque writer. In fiction, characters are usually considered grotesque if they induce both empathy and disgust. Most of her works feature disturbing elements, though she did not like to be characterized as cynical. "I am tired of reading reviews that call A Good Man brutal and sarcastic," she writes. "The stories are hard but they are hard because there is nothing harder or less sentimental than Christian realism... when I see these stories described as horror stories I am always amused because the reviewer always has hold of the wrong horror." How does the group respond to O’Connor’s depiction of her story as “Christian realism?” Record your answer. (#3) She is often said to have her character’s embody the Protestant fundamentalism but by their own perverse actions bring them closer to Catholicism in their thinking. She believed in the divine and the importance of sacraments. The Catholic church teaches that pain and suffering is one way to become closer to God. In what ways is the grandmother “closer” to God in the story’s end? Explain. (#4) Reread page 1. Describe the grandmother using one adjective and justify that description using details from that page. Record on your worksheet. (#5) The grandmother thinks that taking the Georgia- based family to east Tennessee would make them "broad" by "see[ing] different parts of the world.“Looking at how travel changed in the grandmother’s lifetime, what is O'Connor's tone here in her characterization of the grandmother? How does O'Connor's humor come through in this passage? Read page 2, the section that begins “Tennessee is a hillbilly dumping ground…. To the end of the page. Now, answer these questions in your worksheets. What does the grandmother mean when she says, "In my time" at the beginning of this passage? What does the grandmother's use of these words suggest about the racial views she holds? (Pickaninny is also a derogatory term) How does the grandmother represent the South's earlier times by using this word? Since 1896, the rule of the south was Plessy vs. Ferguson – “separate but equal” 1954, the year this was published, that was overturned with Brown vs. Board of Education How does O'Connor use the grandmother to distinguish between the "Old" and "New South"? What is symbolic about the fact that the "phantom" plantation is just a figment of the grandmother's bad memory? When O’Connor writes this story, historical change is a process, and radical, immediate change is rare. How does the family in O'Connor's story reflect this idea? Reread paragraph 2 on page 1 and record how the daughter-in-law is described. Now read this passage (#9): The old lady settled herself comfortably, removing her white cotton gloves and putting them up with her purse on the shelf in front of the back window. The children's mother still had on slacks and still had her head tied up in a green kerchief, but the grandmother had on a navy blue straw sailor hat with a bunch of white violets on the brim and a navy blue dress with a small white dot in the print. Her collars and cuffs were white organdy trimmed with lace and at her neckline she had pinned a purple spray of cloth violets containing a sachet. In case of an accident, anyone seeing her dead on the highway would know at once that she was a lady. (#10) How does the above image compare to O'Connor's descriptions of the mother and the grandmother? What does the grandmother think of the "modern woman"? What are some differences between the grandmother and the mother? Though the story is told from the grandmother's point-ofview, does the story reveal praise and/or criticism for both the mother and the grandmother? How? Flannery O'Connor once said that, "while the South is hardly Christ-centered, it is most certainly Christhaunted" [From http://www.georgetown.edu/faculty/bassr/heath/sylla build/iguide/oconnor.html Via American Studies Web.] (44). What might O'Connor mean when she says "Christhaunted"? Why "Christ-haunted" instead of "Christcentered"? What passages of "A Good Man is Hard to Find" support O'Connor's claim about the South? Title suggests a quest = grandmother tries to save herself by “saving” the young man. Bailey's family literally sets out on a journey, the family vacation. How does the road trip function as a metaphor or symbol of this journey? What might the road trip (and the specific images of the country road) symbolize based on what you have learned from the story at large? John Wesley (son’s name = founder of Methodist church) Back to the young black boy on the road: possible allusion to Matthew 25:31-46 Matthew 25:31-46 New International Version (NIV) The Sheep and the Goats 31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left. 34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’ 37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ 40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ 41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’ 44 “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’ 45 “He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’ 46 “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.” How is the grandmother, a supposedly righteous woman, un-Christian in the road scene? Contrast this with her dealings with the Misfit on pages 12. Why is this ironic? How can the Misfit and his thugs be like the devil that receive the goats in the passage? Mention of death (foreshadow) (#13) Last paragraph page 1 Second paragraph page 2 First paragraph page 3 Paragraph 5 page 5 Paragraph 3 page 7 Paragraph 6 page 7 Scan the rest of the story, and record at least three instances when the children behave poorly and the grandmother comments or corrects them. (#14) Read the comment on page5 by Red Sam about a good man. Why are the grandmother and Sam too simplistic in their musings about “good men?” What do they not recognize about “good men?” The Misfit is identified on page 8 and reddens when Bailey apparently swears at his grandmother. Find and record at least three more instances when the Misfit acts with the manners the grandmother scolds her grandchildren for not having. (#15) Record at least two passages where the Misfit discusses religion. In what ways is he more thoughtful than the “proper” grandmother about his faith? In an article "What We Talk about When We Talk about the South" by Edward Ayers, dean and professor of history at the University of Virginia and author of The Oxford Book of the American South: Testimony, Memory, and Fiction and The Promise of the New South: Life After Reconstruction, Ayers writes: “Southern history bespeaks a place that is more complicated than the stories we tell about it. Throughout its history, the South has been a place where poverty and plenty have been thrown together in especially jarring ways, where democracy and oppression, white and black, slavery and freedom, have warred. The very story of the South is a story of unresolved identity, unsettled and restless, unsure and defensive. The South, contrary to so many words written in defense and in attack, was not a fixed, known, and unified place, but rather a place of constant movement, struggle, and negotiation.” List all the binaries/dualities you see in the story. Star the one that you think is the most important. The Misfit states that he is called that because his crime did not justify his punishment. In what ways is his name appropriate for him? In what ways is the grandmother, who follows the old ways, a misfit herself? How is the grandmother in the final scenes, as she is about to be killed, a better person than the one in the beginning? How is this actually a “misfit?” What insight does this give you into the final quote by the Misfit?