Brett essay will discuss the similarities and differences



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November 2017

       Both Joyce Carol Oates in “Where Are You
Going, Where Have You Been?” and Flannery O’Connor in “A Good Man is Hard to
Find” depict clear similarities and differences. The character portrayal of
Connie and Arnold Friend in “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?” and the
grandmother and the Misfit in “A Good Man Is Hard to Find” represent a new
beginning for both Connie and the grandmother. The main characters in both
short stories illustrate somewhat of an epiphany, both go through traumatic
circumstances to realize that their own actions decided the outcome of their
fate. This essay will discuss the similarities and differences between “Where
Are You Going, Where Have You Been?” and “A Good Man is Hard to Find.”

       Connie and the grandmother appear
extremely similar, in their actions and in how they live their life. Each is
put in a certain situation which later defines their harsh destinies, exposing
that the real problem is them and how they got to that place was due to their
own actions. One similarity between these characters is the fact that neither
of them seem to live in reality, Connie seems as if her life is a movie and
everything will go as the script says, she is considered fake due to her lack
of originality as she poses to be someone she is not. “…one for home and one
for anywhere that wasn’t home: her walk…her mouth…her laugh, which was cynical
and drawling at home but high pitched and nervous anywhere else, like the
jingling of her charms on her bracelet.” (Oates, 319) Everything about Connie
had two sides to it. While the grandmother is stuck in the past and can’t seem
to grab hold of the future, when she talks to her grandkids she starts off
almost every story with “In my time” as if she’s still living in “her time.”
She begins to tell a story due to John Wesley and June Star’s rudeness due to
them saying that Tennessee is a hillbilly dumping ground, “In my time, children
were more respectful of their native states and their parents and everything
else.” (O’Connor, 354) She means this by saying that people or children do
wrong now and did right then. Both seem to live in their own disconnected
worlds, almost sworn off by others.

       Through Connie and the grandmothers
character development both realize a change in themselves just before it’s too
late. We see that the grandmother was just as bad a person as the man murdering
her family. The Misfit says, “she would have been a good woman, if it had been
somebody there to shoot her every minute of her life.” (O’Connor, 368) The
grandmother could have been a good woman, this experience steered her to gain
self-awareness and compassion that she had been missing her whole life until
the moment before her death. And Connie’s attitude changes completely by the
end of the story, she goes from the stereotypical teenager to the unsung hero
though her death in saving her family. She’s portrayed as fake and two-faced
making her almost unlikable to her family and making her vulnerable to Arnold
Friend, allowing her to become his next victim. Both were redeemed in
confronting the evil of their antagonists, finding that each had the ability to
become the bigger person and allow change in someone else’s life other than
their own.

       One difference between them that makes
them more similar is the fact that Connie is trying to grow up too soon while
the grandmother simply never grew up or out of her old life. Although both are
at different points of their life they face similar difficulties in facing their
fears. Connie’s coming of age happens when Arnold Friend enters through
Connie’s door threshold, and she allows him to symbolically step over an
invisible boundary line depleting her sense of security and privacy. Another
point to add on Connie’s behalf is the conscience decision she makes to save
her family in going with Arnold Friend, the story leaves us on a cliff hanger
allowing us to decide the fate of Connie in the hands of Arnold Friend.

       On the other hand, the grandmother
encounters a crisis in which she never grew up right before her death by the
Misfit. Before her death she encounters a moment of amazing grace, for the
Misfit as well, she says “Why you’re one of my babies. You’re one of my own
children!” (O’Connor, 367) and reaches out and touches his shoulder, the Misfit
quickly backs up and shoots her three times. It was a moment of realization for
the grandmother as she sees that she loves him just like one of her own. The
Misfit kills her portraying that the feeling of love she just testified was a
feeling he’s never felt. The grandmother has grown more at this moment than at
any other point in her life.

       The two antagonists, Arnold Friend, and
the Misfit, have certain similarities. Each character at first glance seemed to
have innocent gestures of kindness but were later seen using that innocence to
seduce the women they were pursuing. The Misfit’s actions are deceiving for the
reader and grandmother, giving her, the sense of a redeeming quality while at
her lasts moments he receives none and finally realizes hers. Arnold Friend
appears to have more of a creepy vibe when it comes to handling Connie, he
appears at first to be somewhat young, close to Connie’s age, but during their
discussion we realize he is much older than we thought of him to be. “…she
could see then that he wasn’t a kid, he was much older—thirty, maybe more. At
this knowledge her heart began to pound faster.” (Oates, 325) Friend tries to
lure her closer to him and when it doesn’t work he becomes frustrated. The moment
Friend becomes flustered Connie is now aware of what’s going to happen and
makes the conscious decision to save her family instead of herself. But Arnold
Friend doesn’t give in, he states that he is going to “have my arms tight
around you so you won’t need to try to get away and I’ll show you what love is
like…” (Oates, 332) Giving almost the same impression as The Misfit did in
the murdering of the grandmothers’ family.

       Another similarity between The Misfit
and Arnold Friend is the similarity in their names, each name has a backward
meaning that gives further detail into their characters development.  Arnold Friend’s name can simply be turned into
“A Fiend”, which reverses the outer shell of his name considering its Friend.
Arnold is in fact not a friend to anyone in the story. And the Misfit’s name
states the obvious. He has simply been out of place his whole life. “Nome, I
ain’t a good man…but I ain’t the worst in the world neither. My daddy said I
was a different breed of dog from my brothers and sisters.” (O’Connor, 364) The
grandmother made him recognize his goodness right from the start, almost
swearing that she’s positive he’s a good man, although deep down the audience
knows he is not a good man.

       Each author begins their stories with
the end in mind, they present the antagonists’ evil to withdraw the
protagonists’ unfortunate truth. Both Connie and the grandmother redeem their
flawed and weak actions and behaviors by choosing someone else’s life over
their own. Up until both of their deaths each character defines and lives up to
their ultimate truth by defeating and overcoming it. In my opinion, both Connie
and the grandmother save more than just themselves before their death.