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March to Your Own Drummer

Desmond, ''Flannery O'Connor's Misfit and the Mystery of Evil.'' -- Jerz: EL150 (Intro to Literary Study)

"Thus the Misfit lives as neither believer nor unbeliever in the grey world of uncertainty, of desire for truth, and of longing for some transcendent meaning."

I love this quote, because it's actually sort of similar to how I felt about the Misfit's character when I first read "A Good Man Is Hard to Find." It's actually why I think the Misfit was a Christ figure. If you think about it, Jesus didn't have a clear set of rules to believe in when he first started out. He was just inventing his own religion. Yes, he used Judaism as a starting point, but it's not like there was one certain path clearly marked out that he had to tread. He was kind of creating his own moral universe, searching for truth on his own and not taking some pastor's word for it. In my original blog, I said, "Like Jesus, [the Misfit] seems to be constantly consumed by questions of what lies beyond and is trying to learn about the kind of life a person "should" lead."
So far, that seems to be a common thread throughout all of O'Connor's stories that we've read so far. There are elements of organized religion in all of the stories, but the Misfit, Bevel, Mr. Shiftlet, and Ruby all seem to be pretty much on their own in deciding how they want to live their life and how they want to view their own "moral universe." The Misfit constantly has to test the moral waters to understand what life's all about. Bevel is introduced to organized religion but because of his dysfunctional home ultimately has to strike out on his own to attain spiritual enlightenment. Both Mr. Shiftlet and Lucynell are completely alone by the end of "The Life You Save May Be Your Own" and are left to deal with life without someone telling them what to do. Ruby has no one but herself to sort through how to adjust her life now that she's going to have a baby. They all sort of parallel Christ in the fact that Christ was paving his own way, figuring out what is right and wrong for himself instead of blindly accepting what other people or organized religions told him. I think that's a strong message O'Connor wants to leave us with; in the end, we all are on our own individual moral quests, and each individual has to decide for him or herself what is right and what is wrong. So really I think that quote could apply to all of the O'Connor stories we've read so far.

Comments (5)

Ellen Einsporn:

I completely agree with you, Matt. I do think that O'Connor sends her characters on moral quests in at least all of the short stories we've read so far. Furthermore, I think that O'Connor purposefully allows her characters to choose what is right and what is wrong in order to confuse. I think she is sending us the message: faith isn't easy; humanity is flawed.

Jara White:

hey Matt, I also blogged on the same quote =), but anyway I do agree that O'Connor does seem to send her characters off on a moral quest to find themselves, or the "right" way to live their lives. But its kind of tricky because what is the right way, and what we see as good moral values someone may not necessarily view them the same way. Sorta like how you viewed the Misfit as a Christ figure, while when I originally read the text he was a screwed up serial killer, I mean how do we ever know.

I agree with you Ellen. "Faith isn't easy; humanity is flawed" does seem to be a common theme throughout O'Connor's works. I think that is why she shows the trails and tribulations of each characters' personal "moral universe." (I loved that wording Matt!)

Another good discussion thread. In the universe of Hallmark greeting cards and Precious Moments dolls, faith is The Answer to all your troubles, and characters who have faith can safely stop worrying about important things like death and morality and just play happy songs on a guitar, because the guy in the sky with the beard and flowing robes is taking care of all the details.

People who have faith and good parents and a love of nature and show kindness to strangers can still do evil things.

O'Connor's depiction of faith is far more complex than "God is a happy ball of love who will take away all your worries so that you won't have to think anymore, ever again... promise!"

Precious Moments dolls are absolutely adorable.
While they are supposed to be a representation of faith, I think they are representing (forgive me for this) the "precious moment" part of it.
Outside of that precious moment, the people faith effects are no longer necessarily young and blond. I think that getting caught in that precious moment maintains it in the realm of daydreams - hence why they are just so cute and get an "awwwwww!" whenever seen by anyone who knows just how unreal they are.

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