Sunday, October 23, 2011

O' Connor

     In this short story, O'Connor tells the story of a family traveling to Florida on vacation and how they are maliciously murdered by the famous "misfit."  Some important points to make about the story include the characters.  Because three generations are represented in the story, I think O'Connor is showing readers the vast differences and declining over the years.  The grandmother of the story remembers where she came from and what made her who she is today while her son is indifferent to it and her grandchildren are outright rude and mean to their very own grandmother.  I think O'Connor is making the statement that younger generations have no sense of heritage or family.  I think O'Connor is also saying that they have no sense of responsibility or manners.  This is seen through the parents who do not seem to care at all about their children and never discipline them throughout the story.  The children themselves also support this statement through their complete lack of manners they display to strangers (Red Sammy and his wife) as well as their very own grandmother (the beginning scene).  O'Connor also makes broader statements about society and the south.  For example, the one black boy the family comes across has no pants which suggests that people that live in the country, especially colored ones, are destitute and don't even have enough money for the bare essentials.  Also, the interaction between the couple at the restaurant says a lot about what O'Connor sees in the south-gender roles, and people in general being stuck in the past.  Red Sammy is very rude to his wife and through the way he talks to her clearly shows that he expects her to do all the work and not be too outspoken.
     When the "Misfit" finally comes into the story, we learn about his character and what made him the person he is.  The grandmother's naive view of people and the world is also clearly highlighted.  The grandmother refuses to believe that there is no good in this man.  She believes that because he looks nice and so therefore he must have a little religion and kindness and mercy in him.  The "Misfit" however refuses to improve and believes that he is who he is and nothing or nobody is going to change him.  Perhaps O'Connor is also making a statement about religion and Christianity-that they don't change anything for the better and that they can't really save you in the end?


  1. Does the grandmother truly believe that there is good in the Misfit? What is her definition of a good man? What did you get from today's discussion?

  2. A couple of things I wanted to comment on from today's discussion in class- I think it is important to note that this short story was written in the 1950s when the nuclear family perfect family myth was widely circulated. O'Connor however in her writing throws that idea completely out the window through the fact that there is no human connection at all throughout the story. There is no communication between family members at all which supports the realism theme of isolation and alienation. A couple of other themes that are discussed include that everything happens for a reason and education. The theme that everything happens for a reason can be seen through the general structure of the story in that the reader is left saying this could've been prevented if only... Education (or lack thereof) can be seen through the dialect that is used by the Misfit and the couple that own the restaurant. I also wanted to elaborate on the ending of the story. The grandmother clearly has an epiphany at the end of the story when she says that the Misfit is one of her "babies." She touches the Misfit on the shoulder which is symbolic of human connection (and feels like a snakebite to him) right before she is shot. In that moment when her "head clears for an instant" she realizes that she and the Misfit have more in common than she thinks and that she too has done bad deeds throughout her life. This realization is further supported when the Misfit claims that she would've been a good person if only someone could've been there to shoot her everyday of her life; if only someone could've made her really examine her life and who she was as a person, she might've had a very different past.

  3. I found this story, to be an prime example of what an "gothic,southern literature" is. This story of course, took place in the south and offers that dark vibe of mystery and supense, not to mention horror.