Literature Analysis Paper A struggle between spiritual faith and evil temptation comprises a central theme in both King’s “The Man in the Black Suit” and O’Connor’s, “A Good Man is hard to Find.
” This struggle is represented allegorically in both stories, each writer utilizing a careful employment of symbolism, character development, and plotting to represent moral, spiritual and supernatural phenomena.By investing traditional elements of storytelling with deeper, more symbolically complex meanings, O’ Connor helped to forward an idiom which is both moralistic and Biblical in nature. King’s later story, an “hommage to Hawthorne”(King 68) is a fitting, late-twentieth century Gothic interpretation of the allegorical themes of Hawthorne’s tale, departing significantly in some ways, particularly in the use of a more baroque symbolism than the streamlined allegory employed by Hawthorne. Individual objects, characters, and elements in both stories thus function in “dual” roles, providing, so to speak, overt and covert information.O’ Connor also writes in an allegorical form, but her story adheres to a more rigorous Biblical allegiance.
In constructing a self-sustaining iconographies, both writers were obliged to lean somewhat on the commonly accepted symbolism of certain objects, places, and characteristics. The juxtaposition of everyday events and objects with profound spiritual trials extends even to the major characters of the story. The Misfit represents the Devil as clearly as King’s Man in the Black Suit. King extends his allegory by employing everyday objects and investing them with sinister, allegorical qualities. The most obvious allegorical symbol in both stories is the forest or deep woods, which indicate primitivism, and also preternatural Analysis Paper Page -2-forces and urges that reside in the human psyche. “But don’t you go too far in the woods,” the warning young Gary receives from his father is quickly followed by “Not beyond where it splits” (King, 39).
In both stories, the forest symbolize the split between the rational mind and the unconscious and each reveals deeper and more frightening manifestation of base desires and impulses. The further we move into the woods, in each story, the more he absorbed we become in ‘evil’; ultimately, confronting “impure” sexual and spiritual desires, the fear of death, of shame, and of the deprivations of others. King’s narrator, literally still a child at the time of the story’s main incidents, is able to sustain a threatened loss of moral innocence, whereas the implied “innocence” of the Old Woman and her family in “A Good Man is Hard to Find” functions ironically.O’Connor’s familiarity with the historical background of Catholicism coupled with her personal religious convictions blend into the actions and allegorical resonances of “A Good Man is hard to Find,” functioning both as a confrontation with personal (and universal) dualities, but uniting the opposites within the well-wrought form of the story itself, although the “moral” of the story is not explicit, and there is an intentional ambiguity to the story’s denouement which indicates, rather than a failure to resolve the various schisms aesthetically, an embracing of ambiguity as resolution. “O’Connor comments, “It is one of the functions of the Church to transmit the prophetic vision that is good for all time, and when the novelist has this as part of his own vision, he has a powerful extension of sight” (179-80). This quotation, which aptly describes what happens when a story alludes to a New Testament epistle, implies that an interpretation needs Analysis Paper Page -3-to be both moral and spiritual. (Fike 311)By reaching through her subjective religious beliefs: personal doubt, guilt, and ambivalence to find expression for the irony and injustice of the Catholic dogma, O’ Connor was able toembrace ambiguity, rather than stolid religious fervor, as a moral and spiritual reality. By using the symbolic resonances of everyday objects, places, and people in her fiction, she was able to show the duality – the good and evil – in all things, and in all people, thus reconciling the sheer division of good and evil as represented by the edicts of the Catholic faith.
“She looks at her world with wide-open eyes and speaks about both the crude and the ugly, as did Christ in His parables, and she avoids any sentimental, deus ex machina endings. Her most celebrated story, ” A Good Man Is Hard to Find,” illustrates these traits. Her distortions are intended to “break through” to those who see the grotesque as normal” (Friedman and Lawson 163)Similarly, King’s “The Man in the Black Suit” concerns a single confrontation with evil which has upended a person’s life. Reality is altered by contact with irrational, preternatural forces. The narrator, Gary, so profoundly impacted by his visit from the devil that even as a ninety-year old man, he still fears the encounter. The escalation of Gary’s self-confrontation, expressed through the story’s allegorical technique, is meant to pull the reader into similar inward observation, providing a catalyst for self-realization.
King’s intention (like Hawthorne’s) is to make it difficult for his readers to hide behind their own neat divisions of “good” and “evil.” In fact, even laughter itself is turned on end via King’s allegorical lens. Laughter in the story comes to represent evil. “Then he threw himself on his back in the little flat place and laughed wildly. It was the sound of a lunatic,” recalling the transformation of Faith’s scream in Young Goodman Brown into a laugh of acceptance as she joins the Devil.
(King 48)Analysis Paper Page -4-Both King and O’ Connor impose the concept of chaos over an ordinary, everyday world, substituting moral and spiritual ambiguity in favor of moral and spiritual certainty. Both stories engage the reader with dynamic allegorical logic which proceeds toward an organic catharsis, meant to unsettle the moral and spiritual perceptions and reflections of the readers.;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;Works CitedKing, Stephen.
Everything’s Eventual. Pocket Books, New York 2002.Fike, Matthew.
“The Timothy Allusion in “A Good Man Is Hard to Find”.” Renascence: Essays on Values in Literature 52.4 (2000): 311.Friedman, Melvin J., and Lewis A. Lawson, eds.
The Added Dimension The Art and Mind of Flannery O’Connor. New York: Fordham University Press, 1977. 3 pages 3 sources MLA compare and contrast “A Good Man is Hard to Find” with “The Man in the Black Suit.”