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Compare and Contrast Essay Hemingway

In: English and Literature

Submitted By tokibolt
Words 1470
Pages 6
Eric Quach
Paper 2: Compare and Contrast
Good Country People vs A Good Man is Hard to Find
Flannery O’ Connor was able to write two amazing pieces of writing through the stories of “Good Country People” and “A Good Man is Hard to find”. Through these two stories, she uses the similar theme of the Salvation, or Redemption, of the protagonist due to the evils committed by people who have no beliefs. To show this theme, she uses elements from both stories, similar and different. Through characters, conflicts and symbolism of the two stories I hope to show some new understanding of these two excellent stories.
Based on description, the two protagonists of the two stories, Hulga and the Grandmother don’t seem to be similar at all. The grandmother looks back fondly on days when people acted nicer and looking for a good man was much easier. In “Good Country People”, Hulga is rude, has a degree in philosophy, and likes the idea of… well, nothing. There isn’t that much similarity based on the descriptions given, but there is a similarity that wasn’t stated: the fact that both characters are more shallow than they think they are. Even with all her university training, Hulga isn’t a full believer in nothing. She just knows what to say to give this assumption. This is shown when she was shocked in Manley’s change of behavior, from a simpleton and bible salesman, Manley turns into someone who declares the truth behind what he sells. “I hope you don’t think I believe that crap! I may sell Bibles but I know which end is up and I wasn’t born yesterday and I know where I’m going!” (O’Connor 201). The grandmother also liked to think of herself as a good person, but she only really became a good person after her meeting with “The Misfit”. Through the entire encounter with The Misfit, she begs and pleads not for the life of her family but to spare her life. Towards the end of her life she cries, “You’ve got good blood! I know you wouldn’t shoot a lady! I’ll give you all the money I’ve got!” (O’ Connor 340). The difference between the two characters is that the Grandmother’s change was described while the changes in Hulga’s life isn’t clear and can only be assumed. It is a sure thing however that her life changed after her experience with Manley in the barn.
The Misfit and Manley both are key factors for change in the lives of the protagonists from their respective stories but they have a key difference: Manley isn’t really looking for anything, he’s just looking for a good tie. He is a believer in nothing. On the other hand, The Misfit looks back on his life and says at the end, “It’s not real pleasure in life” (O’Connor 341). The question of Jesus, The Misfit seems to believe that he exists but can’t really decide if he did what the Bible actually said he did. This causes him big stress as he says, “Jesus was the only one that ever raised the dead…. And he shouldn’t have done it. He thrown everything off balance. If he did what he said then it’s nothing for you to do but throw away everything and follow him, and if he didn’t, then it’s nothing you can do but to enjoy the few minutes you got left the best you can by killing somebody or burning down his house or doing some other meanness to him. No pleasure but meanness.” (O’Connor 340). Despite this, he doesn’t really enjoy the “meanness” no matter the number of people he killed. Manley howver does not care for Jesus at all and he isn’t looking for ways to make what he does right. He obviously is a Bible salesman but he doesn’t believe in what he sells at all.
Before the “villains” is encountered, there are conflicts that come in between the protagonists’ stories and their families. Hulga and the Grandmother rub against their family like sandpaper, Hulga because of her bad attitude and the Grandmother because of her constant clinging, wishing for the old day where people were nice. These conflicts could represent what each protagonist needed saving from. On a deeper level, both stories share another conflict: both protagonists have to face the villains and the nothing that they both believe in. in “A good Man is Hard to Find” the encounter with The Misfit destroys her but in the end also brings her to repentance: “[The Misfit’s] 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 on e of my babies. You’re one of my own children!’ she reache out and touched him on the shoulder.” (O’Connor 341). She is killed immediately after doing this but the change in her is definitely obvious. In “Good Country People” the conflict doesn’t lead to as much of a dramatic change but her encounter with Manley does change her. It is shown in how Manley razes Hulga’s intellectual ideas and makes her realize what believing in nothing is really like; he does this by being himself. When he leaves the barn he declares to Hulga, “’and I’ll tell you anther thing Hulga,’ he said, using the name as if he didn’t think much of it, ‘you ain’t so smart. I been believing in nothing ever since I was born!’” (O’Connor 202).
The symbolism shown in the two encounters is interesting considering the author’s belief in God which can’t be excluded when analyzing her stories. It is strange when looking at the two antagonists, Manley and The Misfit, that through their quite evil ways, they’re actually the “saviors” for the two protagonists. Manley may not believe in nothing, but he removes Hulga’s ability to say that she believes in nothing. She says to herself before showing her true self to Manley, “We are all damned… But some of us have taken off our blindfolds and see that there is nothing to see. It’s a kind of salvation.” (O’Connor 200). It is only when Manley removes her “blindfold” by taking away her leg, and showing her actual “nothing” can move on to a true salvation. The Misfit also serves as a savior to the grandmother. The Misfit forces the grandmother to the point where she can see the world in an unselfish ay and reach out in love. It is also possible that the saved can also possibly be the savior. It is only when the grandmother calls him her “child” that The Misfit sees that, “It’s no real pleasure in life” (O’Connor 341). After he was touched by someone who loved him, he can no longer be the same despite that touch being for only a moment. There is a symbol that not dealing with salvation is shown only in “Good Country People” and that is through Hulga’s fake leg. Her leg may be how she gets around after the accident that took away her limb, but it is her crutch that allows her to stabilize her life. “She was as sensitive about the artificial leg as a peacock about his tail. No one ever touched it but her. She took care of it as someone else would his soul, I private and almost with her own eyes turned away.” (O’Connor 200). Her leg was what stabled her and her beliefs in nothing and her intellectual superiority, and it is only when Manley takes away the leg that her stability is taken away as well. When Manley asks if she is saved, Hulga tells him, “In my economy… I’m saved and you are damned but I told you I didn’t believe in God.” (O’Connor 199). When Manley takes her leg away it is shown that her belief was weak because she might say she believes in nothing but she expects others to behave in what they say they do. One example is when Manley shows his true character, she says angrily to him “You’re a Christian!... You’re a fine Christian! You’re just like them all – say one thing or do another. You’re a perfect Christian, you’re…” (O’Connor 201). When Hulga truly finds out what it is to believe in nothing, it will take away everything that she believed in.
Both stories show similarities but they’re not interchangeable. “A Good Man is Hard to Find” focuses on the redemption of its leads, where “Good Country People” is more about the destruction of a disbelief and the start of a road to redemption. Despite these differenes, both stories both serve as excellent stories of redemption and the nothingness in life that comes with a belief in nothing.

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