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Works by Flannery O’Connor

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Thesis statement-The Misfit and Manley are essentially the same type of cruel, indifferent, and insensitive psychopath.

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Introduction

Flannery O’Connor’s works dealt mostly on human characters that were opposite of her.  Specifically, the two characters, the Misfit from the story “A Good Man is Hard to Find” and Manley Pointer of “Good Country People,” portrayed the evil personalities being victims of disbelief to the true God.  Likewise the two (Misfit and Manley) are male characters who exhibited troublesome behaviors as they went along contrary to the ideal persons in the Bible.

To support this denotation, the authors made use of symbols through facial and body language as well as items to represent intended meaning to make the stories quite interesting by means of suspense factors to enhance the governing ideology of the characters that were real during that period.  The author had simply created personalities in the story with intention to present what life becomes away from God being cruel, indifferent, and insensitive psychopath.

Introduction of the author

            Flannery Connor who lived for only thirty-nine years was one of the famous American writers in the twentieth century.  Her remarkable influence in the literature of America was really astonishing because of her strange style in demonstrating characters.  Her violent-inspired plots share her moral stand to her audience.  Though born an only child to a wealthy couple in Georgia, she had lucid understanding of the value of life that she eagerly shared to every people whom she had acquainted with.  Melissa Simpson noted about Flannery, “She gave those she could believe an abiding loyalty; she gave those she couldn’t credit the back of her verbal hand” (p. xii).

            Connor’s talent was innate which she got from her father who was a writer of many speeches.  Her skill in writing was later developed through several training she got from schools since early years in elementary until college where she spent most of time in exclusive schools. She was known as young woman by her friends as “profound, eccentric, stubborn … imaginative, authentic, humorous, and down-to-earth” (Simpson, p. 5).  Though ordinary as she was, Flannery had reflective thoughts on things that made her works really compelling.  However, the real artist within her emerged at first as being a visual writer in a publication followed by several issues of cartoons with her essays and reviews according to Melissa Simpson (p. 6).  These achievements had prompted her to pursue her career in writing.

            In addition, O’Connor’s acquaintance remembered her as “extremely determined to keep her fiction from becoming abstract and voiceless” (Brinkmeyer & Brinkmeyer, Jr., p. 12). Another comment stated that O’Connor was “very much concerned with matters of the spirit” (ibid).  Moreover, her excellent style and approach in writing “results from her ability to embrace the voices and viewpoints of those about and within her- in other words, to give expression to the many realities” (Welty cited in Brinkmeyer & Brinkmeyer, Jr. p. 12).

Comparison of the Two Characters

            Interestingly, behind the evil manners and/or intention were people who appeared as Godly-fearing individuals because of their identity with religious activities or Bible teaching; and yet, they only harness the situation causing unexpected circumstances to happen.  Despite contrast in the role each portrayed in the given stories, they had some similarities for intended purposes.  Some of the similarities are: their disbelief in God is the manifestation of their alienation from God; both the characters served to transform other characters from believing that they are godly; and, both were socially marginalized in the society.

The Misfit and Manley Pointer’s disbelief in God is the Manifestation of their Alienation from God.

            It is clear indeed that the Misfit and Manley Pointer who played the characters in O’Connor’s two well-known books were unbelievers of Christ and the Christian faith, the Misfit as psychopathic atheist, while Manley a professing Christian.  For instance, the Misfit was believed to have been “scandalized by the supernatural” (Wood, p. 38) who was offended by the teaching about Jesus the Giver of Life.  The Misfit was an ex-convict or “ex-fundamentalist” as noted by Ralph C. Wood who “become (sic) a mass murderer” of his own family at the later part of the story (ibid).  A “psychopathic” (ibid) as he was what prompted him to kill grandmother was her attempt to convince him to spare her life by renouncing her own faith before the serial killer.  What is more intriguing was the Misfit’s statement after killing the grandmother, which he said, “She would have been a good woman… if it had been somebody there to shoot her every minute of her life” (Wood, p. 39).  He totally departed from the world of spiritual things.

            Manley Pointer on the other hand, was not a real Christian contrary to what people knew of him.  As evidence, Hulga wanted to devastate his faith “transforming such false feelings into something useful” (Wood, p. 206).  What was worse was Manley’s real self overwhelmed by his sexual passion for Hulga in which Ralph Wood mentioned,

“Seeing that Hulga has ludicrously deified herself, Manley spreads before her the condoms and the pornographic cards and the whiskey flask contained in his hollowed-out version of the Bible” (p. 207).

The sexual act that went on became an eye opener for Hulga that Manley was “no gullible Christian” (p. 207). He disguised as a good man behind selling Bibles.

The Characters Served to Transform Other Characters in the Story from Believing that they are Godly.

            The Misfit and Manley Pointers were two characters made by O’Connor who became accidental instrument in the transformation of arrogant and stiff-necked persons in the characters of grandmother and Joy/Hulga.  The Misfit rejoiced that the killing of the grandmother had justified his action; in his words he stated, “She would have been a good woman… if it had been somebody there to shoot her every minute of her life” (Wood, p. 39).

While Manley Pointer had made Hulga felt a loser after an elicit relation with him.  Wood noted, “In the darkened heart of his own nihilism that to steal Hulga’s wooden leg is to inflict the utmost devastation; it is to destroy the very icon of her faith” (p. 207).  Manley was indeed a victor for making her paralyzed by losing her wooden leg and her identity.

            The incidence in the life of the main characters in the story had led them to realization of their own mischievous behavior that was unknown to them.  Katherine Hemple Prown quoted O’Connor, “He [Misfit], in fact, speaks for God in pronouncing judgment on the grandmother” (p. 44); and for Hulga she stated, “The power of Hulga’s awakening is diminished by the banality of the circumstances” (ibid).  God’s grace is manifested in these incidences as they recognized their own mistakes; for grandmother it was traumatic while for Hulga it was humiliating.

Both had Inflicted Violence to Women

            Both the characters were male who predominantly defeated women.  Why women?  Flannery addressed a long time struggle of all- gender issues.  In the case of the Misfit, the killing of grandmother was also an indication that he got irritated by the domineering personality of the grandmother.  The case was also true with Hulga who tried to control Manley by her philosophical and intellectual conversation with him that suddenly led to her defeat.  The infliction made to grandmother was brutal and relentless, while on Hulga vulgar and offensive.

Flannery O’Connor had made it clear that her stand as a devotee Christian regarding women and men conformed to Biblical explanation.  Both Misfit and Manley were very strong-willed to kill women.  Cynthia Seel stated that “Feminine assertions are systematically and continually punished by the author” (p. 62) to restore the balance of the gender issue.

Conclusion

            The Misfit and Manley were typical male image in the works of O’Connor; they were characterized as being evil who did wickedness to helpless victims. The two male characters in the stories made by Flannery O’Connor have significant implication in today’s world since many have forgotten the spiritual values and simply carried away by many temptations; many are cruel, indifferent, and insensitive psychopath.  As pointed out by the author, losing a closer relationship may result to destructive consequences to one self and to other people.  O’Connor used characters that were opposite of her to emphasize the need for true spiritually

Work Cited

Brinkmeyer, R. & Brinkmeyer, Jr., R. The Art and Vision of Flannery O’Connor. USA: LSU Press, 1993.

Prown, Katherine Hemple. Revising Flannery O’Connor. USA: University of Virginia Press, 2001.

Seel, Cynthia. Ritual Performance in the Fiction of Flannery O’Connor. USA: Boydell & Brewer, 2001.

Simpson, Melissa. Flannery O’Connor. USA: Greenwood Publishing Group, 2005.

Wood, Ralph C. Flannery O’Connor and the Christ-Haunted South. USA: Wm B. Eerdmans Publishing, 2005.

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