Good Man is Hartd to Find by Flannery O'Connor
Passage: "His voice seemed about to crack and the grandmother's head cleared for an instant. She saw the man's face twisted close to her own as if he were going to cry and she murmured. 'Why you're one of my babies. You're one of my own children!' She reached out and touched him on the shoulder. The Misfit sprang back as if a snake had bitten him and shot her three times in the chest"
Good Man is Hard to find focuses on the questions of religion specifically the spirituality and belief in Christianity. The author was a strong believer and through her works she wanted to attempt to bring religion into the lives of the unbelievers. The strength of her beliefs is depicted in her characters especially seen in the character of the grandmother. The grandmother's strong southern heritage and her unchanging beliefs like always being dressed like a lady are a reflection of the author's belief in God. However, that the grandma gets sidetracked in worldly goods is a suggestion of people being led astray and portrays the dysfunctionalism in society. In this context the misfit is seen as the representation of evil and grandma the savior, Christian who attempts to save the people despite themselves. The Grandma represents the Christians of the time of Jesus who did not lend their hand to the poor but only saw their equals as being worthy. Jesus taught against that but Grandma could look only as far as the face, to her the misfit looked like he came from good blood and thus worth saving. Thus, the words 'Why you're one of my babies. You're one of my own children!' represent a religious theme where grandma sees herself as the savior, and the misfit part of her followers. The misfit however, proves himself the symbolism of evil and like Judas kills the grandma. The Misfit chooses evil over good because he saw no miracles; the grandmother claimed to have chosen good, but the choice was hollow, superficial and selfish, for as the Misfit says, if Jesus did do what is claimed of him then there is nothing to do "but throw away everything and follow him.'" Knowing her own failing, she suddenly knows the Misfit for one of her own...a person misguided and hence in need of a helping hand.
2. Gimpel the Fool by Isaac Bashevis Singer
Passage: I wondered over the land, and good people did not neglect me. After many years I became old and white; I heard a great deal, many lies and falsehoods, but the longer I lived the more I understood that there really were no lies. Whatever doesn't really happen is dreamed at night. It happens to one if it doesn't happen to another, tomorrow if not today, or a century hence if not next year"
Isaaac Singers work in context is taken as parable with questions of spirituality and existence common within the works. His themes are Jewish and set in his native Poland. The common question asked in his works, with Gimpel the Fool being no different, is the need for existence and the search for faith. Gimpel is a foolish man who is constantly being tricked by people around him. Yet, he never learns and his activities, then serve to provide a moral lesson to the readers. Gimpel is treated like a fool by his community and seen as a person with no worldly sense. Even his wife treats him with scorn but he keeps his faith. He believes that God has given him this life and the good and bad are his to bear. Yet, when he leaves his village and tells his tales to others he is seen as a worldy man.
The words 'I wondered over the land, and good people did not neglect me... It happens to one if it doesn't happen to another, tomorrow if not today, or a century hence if not next year..." are suggestive of the actual faith he has in people and God. When people trick him and treat him like a fool and lie to him he takes it with a shrug of his shoulders. He believes that there is no such thing as a lie, what is a lie today becomes a truth tomorrow. This belief shows his faith in God. As a person scorned and treated with disdain he realizes that people like to bend the truth and just create imaginary scenarios for their own benefits. But he also realizes through his own life, that these half truths at one time or another are reality for someone in society. There are no words that go unaccepted somewhere, we will see one persons lie becoming another's truth. it's the ultimate acceptance of life through blind faith and allows the fool to become the wise man. Gimpel's acceptance of his own life comes through his realization that he is not irreplaceable and once he dies someone will take his place in all aspects of life. He sees the afterworld as the ultimate reality. For he says later on in the book, 'When the time comes I will go joyfully. Whatever may be there, it will be real, without complication, without ridicule, without deception. God be praised: there even Gimpel cannot be deceived.'
3. Swaddling Clothes by Mishima Yokio
Passage: "She did not feel in the least afraid and made no effort to free herself. In a flash the thought had struck her, Ah so the twenty years have already gone by! The forest of the Imperial Palace was pitch dark and utterly silent"
Swaddling Clothes' is title representing the hidden values of society. The actions we cannot accept as per social mores are hidden and cloaked in secrecy. The tale of the Swaddling Clothes by Mishima Yokio is one where the author shows the clash between cultures that creates an impossible situation as the traditional conventions of Japan war with the modern values brought by Americanism. The story tells the tale of a Toshiko a, woman whose nurse gets pregnant and has a son whom she then abandons. The woman begins to feel sorry for the nurses lost values and begins to fear for her own son's life in a changing world. She feels alienated from her husband as he adapts to the modern ways with ease while she only sees the danger in a changing Japanese society. The nurse's son and her son are then symbols of modernism and traditionalism and create the contrast within the story.
As the story progresses her fear too begins to encompass her and her need for the traditional conventions over whelms her. In her own words, "she dreaded going back to their house, unhomely with its Western-style furniture..."
The differences in values overtakes her so that she begins to feel indifference towards life and then one day while she is walking through the forest she sees a homeless person sleeping and relates the life of that person to the bastard son her nurse had. The homeless person is then seen to stab her and she passively bows to his aggression as we read the words, '...and made no effort to free herself...' She is by this time so numbed by the change that she sees her death as a sacrifice to her son. The author does not state whether she dies or lives thus, presenting the clash of values between tradition and modernity as never being resolved. We do not know whether it is better to have a conventional society or adapt the modern ways and this unawareness is accepted through the words, 'Ah so the twenty years have already gone by! The forest of the Imperial Palace was pitch dark and utterly silent" for changes take place with society offering only a semblance of arguments and the rest we have to face alone.
4. A Father by Bharati Mukherjee
Passage: "At twenty-six Babli had found the man of her dreams; whereas at twenty-six Mr. Bhowmick had given up on truth, beauty, and poetry, and exchanged them for two years at Carnegie Tech'
Bharati Mukherjee coming from India as an immigrant tells tales of the Indian society and how the patriarch is the ruler of the family. Her tales are not always of patriarchal abuse rather, the tales are focused on a woman protagonist who attempts to get free of the traditional patriarch rule. Certainly, that's the case in her tale, 'A Father'. The storyline of the tale is of a religious Hindu family that is ruled by the father, however, his vision of the perfect family is torn apart when he learns that his daughter who is of marriageable age has gotten artificial insemination done as she wants a baby but is not ready for a man in her life.
The lines read above are suggestive of the daughter's state of mind where she feels she is ready for marriage and yet,…