Indivdualism, Hypocrisy, and Manipulation
Indivdualism,Hypocrisy, and Manipulation
Humanbeings are said to be naturally selfish. It is natural to beindividualistic and look out for oneself before caring about others.Human beings are preoccupied with individualism as a way of survival.The survival of a person is based on being self- centered and it isargued that acts of kindness are also geared towards protecting theself. However, this individualism can go wrong as some people becomeextremely selfish, which push people away or make the individualsunpleasant. The individualistic nature of human beings and its faultsis depicted in O’ Connor’s ‘The Artificial Nigger’ and ‘AGood man is Hard To Find’ as will be discussed in this research.
Inthe story, ‘A Good Man is Hard to Find’ the grandmother wasselfish and she often disregarded the opinions of other people. Thegrandmother often sulked when her opinions were not acknowledgeddespite them being individualistic. For example, she wanted thefamily to travel to Tennessee and not Florida, and she did considerwhat the other family members wanted for the holidays. In, ‘TheArtificial Nigger’ Mr. Head did not allow Nelson to enjoy theexperience of Atlanta as he constantly told him of the negatives ofthe city (Joiner 40). He disliked Atlanta because it was full ofblack people and he tried to instill this negativity in Nelson sothat he could prove himself right.
Thegrandmother in ‘A Good Man is Hard to find’ kept lamenting abouthow children in the new age disrespected their parents becauseBaileys refused to go to Tennessee. She was determined to make thefamily travel to Tennessee and when Baileys refused to do herbidding, she kept making him feel guilty. The Grandmother did notconsider that the rest of the family wished to travel to Florida(Boudreaux 152). This was similar to Mr. Head who made sure that hetook Nelson to the inner cities of Atlanta where life was hard andwas occupied by black people (Brinkmeyer& Brinkmeyer 97).Mr. Head wanted to erase the image of the good side of Atlanta fromthe mind of Nelson.
Individualismalso causes people to use others as a means to an end. Thegrandmother in ‘A Good Man is hard to find’ tried to use bailey’schildren to get bailey to take them to Tennessee. The grandmothergave the children the story of the house with caves so that theycould convince Baileys to let them go to the house, after which shewould tell them that the house was in Tennessee and they wouldconvince baileys to take them to Tennessee (Joiner 35). Mr. Head alsomade sure that Nelson was harassed so that he would hate Atlanta andhave no desire to go back. This explains why he denied knowing Nelsonwhen Nelson knocked down the old white lady (O’Connor180).
Thegrandmother was also individualistic as she did not plead for Baileysand John to be spared when they ran into the Misfit. She only caredfor her life and that is why she let the men take away Baileys andJohn, but she pleaded for her life when the Misfit threatened to killher. The grandmother even used religious references to convince theMisfit to spare her life, yet she did not use the same vigor toconvince him to spare John and Baileys (O’Connor178).On the other hand, Mr. Head denied being Nelson’s guardian when heknocked down the old white lady. He used Nelson to spare his lifefrom the wrath of the people. Additionally, Mr. Head did not want tointeract with black people and he used Nelson to ask for directionswhen they got lost in Atlanta.
Theuse of manipulation is also part of the human nature of beingindividualistic and human being manipulate others and situations sothat they can achieve their selfish ends. The grandmother said thatshe dressed well when leaving for Florida so that in case she passedaway, people would know that she had been a lady (O’Connor32).She tried to manipulate Baileys’ emotions so that he could give into her desire to go to Tennessee. Mr. Head also manipulated Nelson bytaking him to the unattractive parts of Atlanta so that he couldprove his point that Atlanta was not such a nice place. When thepeople of Atlanta harassed Nelson for knocking down the old lady, Mr.Head denied knowing Nelson so that he could prove his point thatblack people were not nice.
Thegrandmother also tried to manipulate the Misfit by touching hisshoulder and talking about biblical stories so that he could spareher. She tried to manipulate his emotions by using motherly emotionsand religious teachings to make him spare her life (O’Connor17).Mr. Head manipulated Nelson by showing him artificial niggers so thathe could save their relationship after he had denied knowing Nelsonwhen the people of Atlanta were harassing him. Mr. Head used thestory of artificial niggers to seek Nelson’s forgiveness instead ofdirectly asking for forgiveness.
Baileys’children were excited to be travelling to Florida for the holidays asthey had always wanted to discover the city. The children lookedforward to an enjoyable trip and they were anxious. However, sincethe grandmother wanted them to travel to Tennessee for the holidays,she manipulated their excitement by telling them about the secrethouse so as to show that Florida was not the best option for theholidays. On the other hand, since Mr. Head knew that nelson hadnever met black people, he wanted to prove to Nelson that blackpeople were not nice (Desmond 32). That was why he took the boy tothe unpleasant side of Atlanta that was occupied by black people andrefused to ask for directions when they got lost.
Thegrandmother in ‘A Good Man id hard to Find’ had grown up inTennessee and she believed that the town was the best place. Shebelieved that Tennessee offered the most beautiful sites and shetried to manipulate Baileys by telling him that dangerous robbers hadbeen rumored to be travelling to Florida. The grandmother believedthat Tennessee was the safest place and when she could not convincebaileys to take the family there, she resorted to manipulation.Similarly, Mr. Head believed that his rural home of Georgia was thebest place to live in because the society was comprised of whitesonly (Desmond 32). Mr. Head tried to manipulate Nelson by telling himthat Atlanta was not the best place and he would eventually hate theplace. When this did not work, Mr. Head took Nelson to the worstareas of Atlanta so as to prove his point.
Hypocrisyis also human nature that is linked to individualism. Hypocrisyinvolves false pretence so as to achieve something. The grandmotherwas hypocritical as she dressed well before the trip so that peoplewould think that she was a lady if she died during the trip (O’Connor16).The hypocrisy was meant to make her look like she was well brought upand the trip to Florida was just a coincidence. Similarly, Mr. Headwas a hypocrite as he pretended to know Atlanta when he took Nelsonto the area occupied by black people. The hypocrisy was so as toprove to Nelson that he knew Atlanta well and everything he had saidabout the city was true.
Thegrandmother was also a hypocrite as she pretended that the house shewas talking about was close to where they were, so that she couldlater pretend that she had conveniently remembered that the house wasin Tennessee. The hypocrisy was meant to manipulate Baileys throughthe children. Similarly, Mr. Head was a hypocrite as he pretended toknow Atlanta well yet he knew that they were lost (Desmond 28). Healso pretended to know the story of the artificial nigger yet he didnot know why the false nigger was where it had been positioned onthat part of Atlanta.
Inconclusion, the individualistic nature of human beings and its faultsis depicted in O’ Connor’s ‘The Artificial Nigger’ and ‘AGood man is Hard to Find.’ The two stories depict how human natureis individualistic and in most cases, people will use hypocrisy andmanipulation to get what they want. The individualistic nature ofhuman beings can be catastrophic. Human action is individualistic,but some people are too selfish to consider the views of others evenwhen they are not right.
Boudreaux,Armond. "There Are No Good Men to Find: Two Stories by FlanneryO`Connor." Explicator 69.3 (2011): 150-152. Humanities Source.
Desmond,John F. "Flannery O`Connor and the Idolatrous Mind."Christianity & Literature 46. (1996): 25-35. Humanities Source.
Joiner,Jennie J. "Constructing Black Sons: William Faulkner`s "BarnBurning" And Flannery O`Connor`s "The Artificial Nigger."Flannery O`Connor Review 8. (2010): 31-47. Literary ReferenceCenter.
O`Connor,Flannery. "The Artificial Nigger." KenyonReview.17.2 (1955): 169-192. Print.
O`Connor,Flannery. AGood Man Is Hard to Find, and Other Stories.New York: Harcourt, Brace, 1955. Print.
RobertH. Brinkmeyer, Robert H. Brinkmeyer, Jr. TheArt and Vision of Flannery O`Connor. NewYork: LSU Press, 1993. Web.