Sample Essay

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This essay discusses “A Good Man is Hard to Find”, “Everything That Rises Must Converge” and “The Artificial Nigger” by Flannery O’Connor.

Pride is the deadliest of the seven deadly sins of Christianity and the main target of Catholic writer Flannery O’Conner (Summitt) who is a novelist with “Christian  concerns” (Shinn). The Bible says: “Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.”(Prov. 16:18). The overarching theme of the three short stories by O’Connor that we shall examine here, is also the humbling of the proud.

A Good Man is Hard to Find is the story of an old woman who thinks everyone else is stupid and she can fool them and have her own way. Her family, her son, his wife and children have decided to go to Florida for a vacation, but she wants to go to Tennessee. She wakes up earlier than everyone else and dresses up well to spite them. She secretly packs up her cat for the journey behind her son’s back. On the way she tempts her children with a story of her ancestral house in Tennessee and makes up a false story about rumors of hidden silver in the house which makes the children clamor to go to Tennessee. Her son relents and starts following her directions but she doesn’t really know the way and they get lost, the cat escapes and startles her son and the car ends up in a ditch. An escaped convict arrives and kills everyone, the grandma pleads with him to no avail and she is killed as well.

Everything that Rises Must Converge is a story of an ill-fated bus journey undertaken by a white college graduate Julian proud of his intellect and his aged mother who is a Southern woman proud of  belonging to a family that were wealthy slave owners in the past. She is apprehensive of the bus journey because the buses have recently been desegregated, to her relief there are no African-Americans on the bus when she gets on. Julian the college graduate is mortified at his mother’s racist beliefs; he hopes to shock her by befriending a ‘distinguished negro professor’. His hopes of teaching his mother a lesson are raised at the entrance of an African-American woman and her child, the woman is wearing the same gaudy old-fashioned hat as his mother.

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