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Fiction/Short Story Essay
In both of the short stories, “The Lottery” by Shirley Jackson and “A Good Man Is Hard to Find” by Flannery O’Connor, both authors use characterization, character names, and symbolism to portray their characters’ values and beliefs and their strengths and weaknesses in a similar yet different matter. The characters’ names and symbols in each story support the theme of each story that they were created in.
“A Good Man is Hard to Find” by Flannery O’Connor seemed to use the more modern for the time the book was written and basic description of evil-good people who face the wrath of a disturbed man for no reason. The story was far more complex than just its description of evil, and was interesting in many ways, but not so much interesting in its depiction of the evil character. Overall, I’d say the story supported traditional thoughts about what a disturbed character was, the Misfit, someone who was a criminal and who killed those who crossed him with little to no reason. The Misfit can be seen as more evil if one looks at the story more literally and to a deeper point, understanding the grandmother as his actual biological mother. However, this would mostly serve to support the nature of the disturbed characters that already exists. A person who would kill his own mother for any reason would likely fit into anyone’s classical definition of disturbed. The main disturbed characters in this short story are: The Grandmother and the Misfit. The Grandmother is the manipulator in the story, she doesn’t want to go to Florida because she’s got relatives to see in Tennessee and seizing at every chance to change Bailey’s mind. (O’Connor 567). To try and gets her way, she trying to scare her son with reports of a criminal on the loose and guilt trip him about taking his children there. This is said by the grandmother: “Just you read it. I wouldn’t take my children in any direction with a criminal like that aloose in it. I couldn’t answer to my conscience if I did.” (O’Connor 567). With the Misfit, he was the mysterious criminal who had run into the family and killed them all as he assumed that they were in his way of escaping. His moment of zenith was him saying: “I found out the crime don’t matter. You can do one thing or you can do another, kill a man or take a tire off his car, because sooner or later you’re going to forget what it was you done and just be punished for it (O’Connor 578).” The symbols in the story are the Misfit’s car, the dark forest, and the cloudless, sunless sky; each of these foreshadowed the events of death were to come.
I didn’t see “The Lottery” by Shirley Jackson as portraying a disturbed character, but more as disturbing ways in their society. While there were sinful deeds being done, it would be nearly impossible to pin them on any modern individuals in the story, and therefore is slightly different from the other story that we have read and discussed. However, the evil is presented as taking the lives of innocents, a common theme wherever evil is presented. The main characters in this story are: Tessie Hutchinson, Old Man Warner, Mr. Summers, Bill Hutchinson, and Mr. Harry Graves. Tessie was the unlucky one of the drawing and was stoned to death, she is a type of hypocrite in the story. That she is excited to participate in the lottery, but objects when her family name is called, it is now unfair. As shouted by Tessie to her husband: Tessie Hutchinson shouted to Mr. Summers. “You didn’t give him time enough to take any paper he wanted. I saw you. It wasn’t fair!” (Jackson 6) Mr. Warner was the oldest, and declare that this prevents the barbaric state from returning to the village. Mr. Graves helps with the lottery, as well as Mr. Summers assisting in the ritual. The symbols in this story are: The lottery as the main importance of the day as it is meant to be as a human sacrifice to the higher beings, the black box as to symbolize the choice as to who will die today, the stool could represent the holy trinity, and the stones as a way to generate a crowd to come and watch and/or participate. The Lottery had started as a way to sacrifice for a good growing season, but soon became a routine in their daily lives annually.
Both of these stories have similar thematic connections within them to match up with the Southern Gothic genera, as defined as disturbed people doing disturbing things. Jackson and O’Connor use central characters to show how men have the power to misrepresent reality into something the people accept into everyday life as a tradition in “The Lottery” said in the story
“they half listened to the directions,” (Jackson 4) and in “A Good Man Is Hard to Find” the character, Misfit, does not remember why he was locked up, but killed the family to “save” them from sinning again in order to keep up his mind straight. Both stories were shocking in their grade of disturbing and callousness, and I agree with both author’s representation of the nature of disturbing and the way people respond to it.
In both of the short stories, “The Lottery” by Shirley Jackson and “A Good Man Is Hard to Find” by Flannery O’Connor, both authors use characterization, character names, and symbolism to portray their characters’ values and beliefs and their strengths and weaknesses in a similar yet different matter. In this way they show that years apart from each other, the Southern Gothic genera will remain the same. As for the similarities between all the characters in both short stories, they will remain the same and have fatal endings. In “A Good Man Is Hard to Find” it is a more traditional evil represented throughout, while in “The Lottery” it represent an evil and disturbed society they live in.
Jackson, Shirley. “The Lottery” PDF in Canvas. 1948
O’Connor, Flannery “A Good Man Is Hard to Find.” Written Communications II: Reading, Writing, Researching, Citing. Edited by Spencer Richardson-Jones. W.W. Norton and Company, 2014. Pp. 567-590
O’Connor, Flannery. A good man is hard to find. New Canadian Library, 2015.
Jackson, Shirley. The lottery and other stories. Macmillan, 2005.
Lohafer, Susan. “The short story.” The Cambridge Companion to American Fiction After 1945 (2012): 68.
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