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I am doing an essay and need to cite relevant information from at least one of these...

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babsp24 | Student, College Freshman | Honors

Posted March 28, 2013 at 11:43 AM via web

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I am doing an essay and need to cite relevant information from at least one of these "Perspectives": Hendin's on O'Connor's refusal to "Do Pretty," Katz's "The Function of Violence in O'Connor's Fiction," or Kessler's "On O'Connor's Use of History." This concerns her perspectives on faith, on theme, and symbol in "A Good Man is Hard to Find."

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted October 14, 2013 at 5:34 AM (Answer #1)

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Hendin is actually very interesting in the way that he rejected received criticism and used the text to argue something completely different. Hendin responded to the end of the text, when the grandmother identifies the Misfit as being one of her children and tries to reach out to him, but is then shot:

She saw the man's face twisted close to her own as if he were going to cry and she murmured, "Why, you're one of my babies. You're on of my own children!" She reached out and touched him on the shoulder. The Misfit sprang back as if a snake had bitten him and shot her three times through the chest.

Critics have mostly taken these words and the final action of the grandmother to mean that she has finally accepted salvation and grace herself, and that identifying the Misfit as one of her "babies," she indicates the shared need for grace that they both have. Hendin, by contrast, came up with an anti-theological analysis that dispensed with O'Connor's own faith. He argued that the bleakness of the story created a "feeling of undifferentiated life--of there being few distinctions between living and dying." The Misfit, he argued, was meant to be a kind of Christ, but what we see happening in the final lines of this story is the grandmother trying to save him, and thus both characters "end up crucifying each other." The story then, does not offer a glimpse of transendence at its ending, but rather only serves to highlight the "horror... at the core of family life." This is a very different reading of the story, and it is important in your essay to interact with Hendin's views as well as summarise them, comparing what he says with other critics and their own readings of the story. Hendin's view is certainly unique in the way that he diverges from the accepted theological reading of the story and uses the ending to argue something radically different. 

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