Literary works are essential in society. Through literature, one can read different pieces of materials that will be entertaining and ensure that the audience learns about different features and challenges that are faced in society. In education purposes, literature serves as a purpose of creating insight and in-depth understanding of various societal issues. Humans coexist with each other because they understand the limits of ethics that should be practiced to achieve happiness and peaceful growing. However, despite the human applications, there are still negativities that are encountered in society. Ethics and morality are often themes that scholars explore in their literature work. The struggle between good and evil in society and how good should be practiced often is key to writing. It takes critical thinking for one to relate the ideas that the author attempts to bring out in the book, A Good Man is Hard to Find authored by Flannery O’Connor and Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been? authored by Oates Joyce Carol exploit the theme of good and evil in society. As much as the actions of good are highlighted in the community, there are usually cases of harm which occur. Therefore, Evil emerges in people’s responses to help them understand the benefits of practicinggood in society.
Good and evil can be identified in the novel Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been. The story revolves around a plot intertwined with rape and murder. The plot is built upon the theme but creates suspense to the audience reading the piece of material (Akel 127). Despite the suspense bound to the theme of rape and murder, it implicates the greater purposes of evil in society. The story anchors on the aspect of threats, especially sexual violence issues. It can be used to explain the loss of innocence where childhood dreams are shattered when the character becomes an adult. The loss of innocence stirs around romantic relationships and love through to brutality experienced in the love relationship.
The story,A Good Man is Hard to Find, intriguingly dramatizes the action between good and evil in society. One of the main characters, Misfit, is regarded as a serial killer whose role is the primary representative of evil in the community. On the other hand, there is a grandmother who makes strange actions all in an attempt to promote goodness and happiness among different individuals in society. Right before the grandmother meets Misfit, she engages in activities that prove her to be selfish and shallow. It was only the presence of death that could bring the aspect of goodness from her. The presence of death creates a moment that explains a test of character and opportunity for society to dwell on and exhibit compassion. In the final moments of the grandmother’s life, she attempts to reach out to Misfit in hopes of showing love to him. Misfit rejects the affection brought forward by the grandmother indicating that he was not ready to show good to the audience or society at large.
Connie’s character portrays an entirely different persona of good; she is an innocent girl but exhibits a rebellious and deceitful attitude. In the initial stages of her life, she experiments with relationships with individuals of the opposite gender. In her experience, Connie indicates that the relationship with the boys is what she expects and how she saw them in the movies (McDermott 139). In a detailed explanation, Connie notes that the boys are displaying an aspect of sweetness and also naivety. However, these are ideas that will later end up being destroyed. Connie has romantic ideas that become shattered by Arnold Friend through the manipulation processes.
The character, Arnold Friend, helps to develop the theme of evil. He is portrayed as a manipulative individual. Arnold being manipulative has managed to target Connie based on the youthful nature of Connie as well as her beauty (McDermott 136). He influences her into believing there is love between them, only to uncover his mask, whichis full of evil behaviors such as lust and violence. Love is used as a false kind of facade to accomplish the ultimate goal of violence.As much as Arnold aims Connie, her exact fate ends up being unknown to the audience. The rationale for why her future is unclear is based on a statement that Arnold makes. He states that he will take Connie to a field to show her what love looks like. Based on these statements,the fate is unknown because it is challenging to determine whether Connie survived the incident. This helps build upon the theme of good and evil that humans exhibit in society.
The symbolism nature of the novel shows that the experience that Connie had exemplifies a metaphor regarding American vulnerability and how naïve citizens are exploited. Oates, as an author, makes an in-depth explanation regarding the rate of America’s poverty and the impact that poverty brings along to the Americans through the citizens in the novel. The characters are left defenseless against the negative forces that are created by evil. For example, the case of Connie notes that the restaurant that is brightly lit and has flown as well as a piece of music is an aspect that she can depend on entirely (Akel 129). These are the points that help Connie to find peace and blessing, which are concepts that are amiss in her life. Oates captures the audience with her piece of writing explaining the culture that has been created by teenagers in society (Oates 112). There is a strict code of dressing, language, and also behavior that takes place in the absence of religious and adult guidance in the community — Arnold Attacks Connie, who is based on the available codes of living in society. However, Connie is unable to defend herself from such harmful kinds of attacks.
The death of the grandmother emerges, presenting an opportunity to understand the evil that occurs in society. The grandmother accepts death, and it explains her level of faith in the community. At the time of her death, grandmother subscribes to Christianity faith, and it ultimately brings out her success and triumph. In the Christian perspective, end and embracing Christianity is regarded as a gift. The reasoning behind this is because the recipient of Christianity has always been ready for death and has prepared it for their entire life. According to the grandmother, being a good person indicates that an individual has to be honest, polite, and also respectful. Grandmother tells Red Sam that he is a good man. All that grandmother sees in Red Sam is the character of being friendly and a smooth behavior of nostalgia that helps in the business aspects.
The beliefs of the grandmother are different from what Misfit upholds in the different characters. What makes a good man is irrelevant, according to Misfit. Misfit believes that over time, he has grown into being a wrong person. Misfit was always different from his brothers and sisters. It is depicted in character exemplified by Misfit. Misfit has a casual perception about crime and believes it is an avenue he can use to make for the time that he is spending on Earth. Grandmother insists that Misfit has elements of good, but Misfit does not make any comparison that is appropriate in showing good character in his nature. Misfit does what he believes is according to his will even if there is an evil being extracted from his overall personality. In other words, the characters are presented with conflicting interests on the view of evil and good, where while grandmother tends to think there is a glow of hope in Misfit recovering to being a good person, Misfit believes that all are bound to the free will. In the novel, therefore, Misfit depicts the evil character which is contrary different from the excellent character that is brought about by the behaviors of Grandmother.
Trying to express the need for good, Grandmother ends up in lamentation stating that the family is not allowed to leave the screen door open. The reason is that they have a fear that their properties will be stolen. The claim by grandmother is a metaphorical representation of the existence of good versus evil, where the closing of the door depends on the free will of good while stealing implies the existence of evil. Previously, the screen door would be left open, but with the onset of evil, it is difficult to leave the door open. Grandmother insists that Europe is to be blamed for the misfit that has taken place. The Europeans are spending too much-attracting theft and evil to set in the community. Grandmother has a strong sense of goodness to the point that she judges Misfit and says he has no character of shooting a woman. Goodness, character, and assessment made by Grandmother are based on different traditional morals. These aspects make Grandmother believe that Misfit will not be able to cause harm to her.
The distinction between good and evil is rampant in the novel A Good Man is Hard to Find. The aspect of sudden violence being exhibited in the hands of the unknown assailant is investigated in modern life. The reason for the investigation is that these occurrences are rare in the present world, and when they occur, there is a need to handle them with care and in-depth studies. Characters, as well as leaders who experience these processes, are taken into a thinking capacity that due to the rare nature of the activity, it will never happen again (McCabe 268). The author, Flannery O’Connor, presents a point of view whereby grandmother meets with Misfit. It is at this point that there is a clear distinction between good and evil. Grandmother was portraying good ethics while Misfit portrayed negative aspects, which is evil. The meeting that grandmother encounters is the building step towards the barriers that human beings face in society. The test is against death. Humans dread end because they do not understand what happens at that time.
Good and evil in society are two distinct features that can be separated like light and darkness. However, in any community, when there are aspects of good being exhibited, there are also counter aspects in the form of evil. The two analyzed novels, A Good Man is Hard to Find and Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been,are instrumental in highlighting these themes to society for reading and understanding. Evil brings about detrimental impacts on society, such as violence and murder. It is evil that drove Arnold to attack Connie, who was moral in character and innocent. Misfit also explores the evil nature and inadvertently views violence as opposed to what Grandmother holds in the novel. Death and harm to humans occur in a society that is full of evil hence the need to overcome these adverse challenges. On the other hand, where it is good, development and happiness will be the main pillars of growth. The authors use characters in the novel to explain the challenges that humans face in their everyday lives. Evil should at all times be avoided by the citizens. It can be done by creating awareness and having authority and guidance that punishes individuals who commit evil in society. Having strict laws that should be adhered to allow punishment in cases of violation is appropriate in eliminating evil and maintaining good in society. In general, humans have a different definition of evil and good, but that should not deter organizations from ensuring evil is not practiced in the community. The novels are in simple language, and the characters help in bringing out the themes evidently for the audience to read and understand. Choosing good brings about happiness, societal growth, and effective cohesion among citizens in society.
Akel, Mimi A. “The Good, the Bad, and the Evils of the #metoo Movement’s Sexual Harassment Allegations in Today’s Society: a Cautionary Tale Regarding the Cost of These Claims to the Victims, the Accused, and Beyond (notes).” California Western International Law Journal. 49.1 (2018): 103-135. Print.
McCabe, Allyssa. “William Labov. the Language of Life and Death: the Transformation of Experience in Oral Narrative. Cambridge, U.k.: Cambridge University Press. 2013. 252 Pp. Hb (9781107033344) £55.00/us$85.00.” Journal of Sociolinguistics. 19.2 (2015): 265-271. Print.
McDermott, J.A. “On First Hearing Flannery O’Connor Read “a Good Man Is Hard to Find”.” Southern Humanities Review. 47.2 (2013): 120-145. Print.
Oates, Joyce C. “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been.” We Are the Stories We Tell the Best Short Stories by North American Women Since 1945. (1990): 98-115. Print.
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