Flannery “Where are You Going, Where Have You

Flannery O’Connor in “A Good Man is Hard to Find” and Joyce Carol Oates in “Where are You Going, Where Have You Been?” rely on using epiphany to reveal how the protagonists acquire self-knowledge when faced with death. Connie, from “Where are You Going, Where Have You Been,” and the grandmother, from “A Good Man is Hard to Find,” come to paramount realizations when faced with a high probability of their own demise. The authors utilize epiphany coupled with death and the projection of internal conflicts to explore the thematic statements of their stories. Epiphany was used by Flannery O’Connor and Joyce Carol Oates to show the underlying themes of their stories. The moment Connie, the protagonist of Oats’ story, ceases to be afraid of Arnold Friend, shown in the following quote, she undergoes an epiphany. “She was hollow with what had been fear, but what now is just emptiness” (352). Her realization that she could have been the cause of her being in this situation caused the sudden shift in her emotions. An epiphany that her own errors contributed to her terrible fate. Likewise, the Grandmother in “A Good Man is Hard to Find” undergoes an epiphany while the Misfit is holding her at gunpoint. The grandmother realizes that she is stubborn and selfish when she sees her own shortcomings in the Misfit. This is best shown when she says, “Why, you’re the Misfit one of my babies. You’re one of my own children!” (O’Connor). That line shows the grandmother realizing her flaws, but only when she is faced with someone like herself. This is a concept explored in an Ancient Chinese philosopher, Confuscious’, “Golden Rule,” which states that one should not treat others in ways that one would not like to be treated. These epiphanies only happen to the characters when they are faced with death. In the grandmother’s case, her death is explicit and very literal, while in Connie’s case, her death is less literal. Both of these epiphanies were brought on by aggressive antagonists and happened in the face of tragic circumstances. These are brought about by characters that intend to do harm, not maliciously, but in order to teach the protagonists something about themselves. In “A Good Man is Hard to Find,” O’Connor puts the grandmother in a situation that proves that she is a liar. Further, she has her family killed by the antagonist of the story just to show the consequences of the grandmother’s stubbornness. However, in “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been,” Joyce Carol Oates makes Connie kidnapped by a man pretending to be a boy just to show Connie that her behavior towards her family and towards men in her life is wrong. Both authors use the evil actions of antagonistic characters to teach the main characters what is wrong with not only society, but themselves. The grandmother calls the Misfit her son because she realizes that she is very similar to him. Arnold Friend could even be interpreted as Connie’s alter ego.The authors of “A Good Man is Hard to Find” and “Where are You Going, Where Have You Been?” both used the antagonists’ evil to show the protagonists an unfortunate truth about themselves. The grandmother learned that she is bad from a person who killed her family, while Connie learned that her flirtatious and promiscuous behavior can have dire consequences. Both authors utilized epiphany to show the self realization that the characters experienced.