A Good Man is Hard to Find, and Boys and Girls: Use of Symbols

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Flannery O’Connor’s “A Good Man is Hard to Find” and Alice Munro’s “Boys and Girls” both use symbols to highlight significant meanings in the characters’ lives. This essay will examine two differences and one similarity in the authors’ use of symbols: * O’Connor uses a gun to symbolize fear, whereas Munro uses a gun to characterize shame.

* O’Connor uses a specific animal to signify death, while Munro uses a specific animal to represent freedom.

* In both stories, the house symbolizes imprisonment.

O’Connor uses the gun that The Misfit carries to symbolize fear. Until the climax, the family was enjoying their road trip to Tennessee. When The Misfit, Hiram, and Bobby Lee arrive with their guns, the characters in the family slowly begin to show symptoms of fear. “There was a pistol shot from the woods, followed closely by another”, (O’Connor 63). Even though the characters remaining with The Misfit don’t directly see who Hiram and Bobby shot at that moment, they start to fear. The children’s mother begins to make heaving noises as if she couldn’t breathe. When The Misfit asks if she would like to join her husband and son, she replies “‘Yes, thank you,’ the mother said faintly” (O’Connor 64). At that same situation, the grandmother also begins to fear. “‘Pray, pray,’ the grandmother began, ‘pray, pray…’” (O’Connor 63). The grandmother starts to fear even more when she hears the “pistol report” for the second time after the children’s mother and June Star were taken to the dark forest. “Pray! Jesus, you ought not shoot a lady. I’ll give you all the money I’ve got!” (O’Connor 65). She is so consumed by fear that she begins to negotiate for her life. The grandmother is the last member of the family to persist with The Misfit before she is killed. As a result of fear, her attitude has the most dramatic change from how she behaves when the story started. In contrast, Munro uses the gun to symbolize shame. The narrator quotes “I shot two rabid wolves who...
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