Stories of Violence - Violence Essay Example
Stories of Violence
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Joyce Carol Oates’s Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been? and Flannery O’Connor’s A Good Man is Hard to Find possess literary qualities which are quite remarkably comparable with each other. Aside from the fact that both stories are written by female writers, both also deals with the issue of violence, crime and sexuality. The authors wish to convey different moral and social issues present in the society and criticize the characters’ weaknesses as women. However, despite the notable similarities, they also have remarkable differences that make each story stand out on their own genre.
Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been? and A Good Man is Hard to Find
Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been? is famous for its depiction of rape and the silence of women in the 20th century. The story revolves around the encounter of a young girl with a potentially dangerous criminal who stalked her in her own neighborhood. In this story, Oates made use of the actual Charles Schmid murders to inspire the story of Connie, a fifteen-year old girl, who fools around with boys in a time of her sexual awakening. One day, a man named Arnold Friend arrives at her house when the rest of her family is on a barbeque party. Friend tells her that he is her lover and that they are “all going to get it” if she does not come with him for a ride (Oates 133). Oates clearly depicts the role of women in this story as a sexual fulfillment to men and that sexual awakening for young girls could be quite a nuisance physically and emotionally.
Meanwhile, in A Good Man is Hard to Find, Flannery O’Connor obviously has an odd taste in creating fictional stories which are somewhat always related to a certain issue in a society. In her short story A Good Man is Hard to Find, readers are faced with the gradual transition of the story from slight humor to a tragically religious-oriented finale. The narrative talks about a family’s encounter with criminals led particularly by a man labeled as The Misfit during their road trip to Florida. In this story, the grandmother serves to have the major role in the development of the plot because she is primarily in conversation with The Misfit. O’Connor presents the grandmother in a negative light as she reveals her prejudices and personal biases on certain issues. In the end, her whole family died including her despite her incessant flattery for The Misfit.
Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been? and A Good Man is Hard to Find can be considered as two tragic stories which deals with moral issues and social issues in the society. Both stories depict the issue of crime because both authors insinuate that the victims have been harassed and assaulted. Oates writes the ending part of Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been? by indirectly stating that something rather unfamiliar and quite dangerous is awaiting her in the hands of Arnold Friend. “She put out her hand against the screen. She watched herself push the door slowly open as if she were back safe somewhere in the other doorway, watching this body and this head of long hair moving out into the sunlight where Arnold Friend waited” (Oates 47). On the other hand, O’Connor ends her story with all the family members killed, including the grandmother. Clearly, the characters are not likable as most common protagonists are. They are actually quite annoying especially the grandmother. She is characterized to be manipulative as she tries to change her son’s mind to go some place else instead of Florida because of some criminal named The Misfit who is on the loose. Ironically, her insistence even led them to the criminal and caused them all to die. The tragic endings of the characters show how the authors criticize these characters and their behavior towards certain issues. Connie is a young girl who enjoys flirting with other boys every time she can while the grandmother is a nagging old woman who thinks highly of herself that she belittles others every chance she gets. However, the difference lies on the fact that Connie is assumed to be raped and killed while the grandmother is merely murdered.
Symbolism regarding evil is also present in the two stories as both deals with criminals who somewhat represent the devil. Arnold Friend and The Misfit are the villains who only appears at the end of the two stories when the characters are about to face the consequences of their previous actions. Friend and The Misfit possess qualities which can be misleading. They are good conversationalist as they have their way with words. Friend is portrayed to be a character who knows everything about Connie’s family and he does not come in the house uninvited—a common notion that devils cannot come inside a house without invitation. “I ain’t made plans for coming in that house where I don’t belong but just for you to come out to me, the way you should. Don’t you know who I am?” (Oates 43). The Misfit, on the other hand, reveals power and strength which are beyond human.
The two stories are very comparable in ways that they are able to provide a message that criticizes the main characters’ behavior in the stories. The plot is somewhat similar to each other because of the consequence that the characters had to face due to their previous actions. In addition, symbolism is very apparent in these two stories in relation to evil. Oates’ story deals more with sexuality and the problem of labeling women as merely for men’s pleasure while O’Connor discusses the problem of hypocrisy, pride, and racism in her story. However, their difference in criticizing moral issues makes the two stand out as a great literary piece in their time.
Oates, Joyce Carol. Where are you going, where have you been? Ed. Elaine Showalter. New Jersey: Rutgers University Press, 1994.
O’Connor, Flannery. “A Good Man is Hard to Find.” A Good Man is Hard to Find. Ed. Frederick Asals. New Jersey : Rutgers University Press, 1993. 31-51.