O’Connor’s quotes/theories: “It is the extreme situation that best reveals who we are essentially” and “The truth does not change according to our ability to stomach it” as it relates to the writing, “A good Man is Hard to Find” in which the main character, Grandmother, who lives with her only son and his family and who is domineering at best, but believes that she is a good, graceful, well-reared, and a devout Christian. While on a family trip during which the Grandmother insists on driving down a dirt road to see an old plantation home she once visited, they have a terrible accident.
The Misfit, an escaped convict, stumbles across the family after their accident and whom Grandmother recognizes after seeing news reports. The extreme situation is of course that the Grandmother realizes it is her selfishness that has caused her entire family to be killed and she is probably next. While The Misfit and his friends contemplate killing the entire family, Grandmother attempts to relate to him and his “class” stating, “You wouldn’t shoot a lady, would you? “I know you come from nice people. (582)
While The Misfit seems to have good manners by apologizing to the ladies for not wearing a shirt and calling them ma’am, this is not a time for manners, and it is obvious he has no remorse for his earlier mistakes as he tells Grandmother he cannot remember why he was sent to the penitentiary. He further states, “Jesus thown everything off balance. ” “I call myself The Misfit because I can’t make what all I done wrong fit what all I gone through in punishment. ” (584) This is also the family’s experience of The Misfit’s violence. It is here that Grandmother realizes she is not the person she purports to be.
It is through The Misfit that she achieves grace, and accepts that she is selfish and perhaps not a good person. As to the quote, “The truth does not change according to our ability to stomach it”, while Grandmother realizes her death is imminent, she repeatedly tells him to pray and that he could be honest and live a comfortable life. While I am not sure that The Grandmother truly believes The Misfit could be a good Christian, she relates to him as one of her own children and one who could be a Christian and a good person only if he would believe that and pray.
The Misfit’s truth is, “She would have been a good woman if it had been somebody there to shoot her every minute of her life”, (585) and that he thinks if she believes in Jesus, then why should she care about death. Obviously, Grandmother must accept the truth that she is not the Christian she thinks that she is, as she is afraid to die and does not want to die, even though her entire family is dead and it is her fault.
If she were the Christian she thinks that she is, she should find comfort in the situation and think there is a reason for God’s actions in the deaths of her family and know that she would be forgiven. “Miss Brill” is a story about an old school teacher in a small town of France. Each Sunday, Miss Brill strolls to a park and sits on a bench and watches people. She pretends that she was watching a play but in real life. She likes to think that she is an influence in these strangers’ lives.
She does not speak to anyone in the park, but imagines herself as part of the performance on stage. As to O’Connor’s Quote/Theory, “It is the extreme situation that best reveals who we are essentially”, when Miss Brill eavesdrops on a conversation between two young people wherein they make rude comments about her and her fur stole, she realizes that she is a lonely, old person who has no life, except her Sunday outing, but the extreme situation is that she is not a part of the performance and that she only comes there to live vicariously through others.
As to O’Connor’s quote/theory, “The truth does not change according to our ability to stomach it”, on a normal Sunday, Miss Brill, on her way home, would stop by the bakers and get a piece of honey cake, hoping that there was an almond in it, but after hearing the young couple’s rude remarks about her and her fur, and their curiousity as to why she would even come to the park, she punishes herself and does not stop by the bakers to get her honey cake. Instead, she arrives home and places her fur in it’s box, only to hear it cry.
This was of course Miss Brill’s attempt to accept the truth by crying inside and accepting the realization that the couple was correct in their remarks that she was just a very lonely old woman without much purpose. When we think of “fiction”, we think it is something that is untrue and “made up”, however, in “A Good Man is Hard to Find”, O’Connor’s theories allow the reader to get into the minds of themselves and others and to test or allow one to perceive what happens in different social groups and in the inds of those people in those groups.
Fiction such as O’Connor’s and her theories offer insight into people’s lives, manners, and contributions to life. O’Connor’s theory that in an extreme situation, the true person will display himself truthfully; not what we are trained to be by our parents, teachers or peers, or what is expected of us in our society.
As to O’Connor’s theory/quote, “The truth does not change according to our ability to stomach it”, in the two stories as referenced above, readers are allowed insight into the two characters, who handle the “truth” very differently. Grandmother tries desparately to save herself and to make The Misfit see that he can change, that he can be remorseful, he can believe in God, and live a good life while Miss Blill retreats and almost punishes herself for being old and lonely, with the only thing she can truly relate to being her fake fur.