March 24, 2006
O'Connor, ''The Artificial Nigger'' -- Jerz: American Lit II (EL 267)"Mr. Head had never known before what mercy felt like because he had been too good to deserve any, but he felt he knew now." (128). I am feeling very drained and wrenched out after reading these O'Connor stories one after the next, and it's becoming a struggle to pick out something fresh to blog on, because her underlying themes change very little so far. For example, when Mr. Head gets his tickets from teh scale and Nelson's is upside-down, but Mr, Head's is right on track with his self-image, I just knew that something was about to crack. For an instant I thought that Mr. Head was going to abandon Nelson like Mr. Shiflet did to Lucynell, Jr., and I was partially correct. The title, the numerous racial references, the self-proclaimed goodness of Mr. Head, and the fact that we've read so many of these stories in a row are all getting old pretty quickly. I'm "ravenous" for something different.
Posted by BrendaChristeleit at March 24, 2006 10:40 AM
I hear you Brenda, they are all so depressing and noting good ever comes out of the short stories. Mr. Head is a peace of work...i don't not like how he treats the young boy, and the manner that he talks to him in. Not very adult like.
Posted by: Melissa Lupari at March 24, 2006 11:19 AM
Fair enough, Brenda and Melissa. Next week, I'll try to move us beyond where we are now, in terms of our current understanding of O'Connor.
Posted by: Dennis G. Jerz at March 25, 2006 1:47 AM
I felt the same way. However, in reading "The Artifical Nigger" and the rest of the book I came to the realization that in each of these stories there is a major point that we can connect to in some way. Mr.Head thought that he was okay and that it was Nelson who needed to learn a lesson. Well surprisingly they both learned a lesson that Mr.Head wasn't as great and perfect as he thought and that Nelson doesn't know enough to go on his own. Mr.Head and Nelson are each other's security blanket. When Mr.Head denied that he knew Nelson, Nelson felt betrayed and angry at the time. By the end of the story Nelson realized that he still needed Mr.Head. I thought this was one of the better stories. The use of the "N" word in O'Connor's stories is nerve racking and during this time period it was okay. But is does bother me how O'Connor uses the term and negative.
Posted by: LisaRandolph at March 27, 2006 9:38 AM
Although I feel very similar, Brenda, I must say that Mr. Head and Nelson showed some hope from the very beginning. O'Connor does it in a raw manner, but the scene of Nelson siting at the table in the early morning hours anticipating his trip, and Mr. Head brings the meat to the table shows an acknowledgment of the understanding the two had for each other. Although their words could never confirm that.
Posted by: Shanelle Kapusta at March 28, 2006 12:47 AM