Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Fishbowl #4: "A Good Man Is Hard To Find"

I love that you guys are growing with each of your fishbowls, taking the constructive criticism and running with it.  Great job.  Your questions are fantastic.  Great job bringing in those elements of Gothic craft (doppelgangers, the uncanny, house/ guest/ host) that we've been talking about.  I love that you also considered our conversation about "important" parts of text, discussing Poe's epigraph and how it affected your thinking.

1 piece of constructive criticism today:  particularly because one does not have the chance to clarify his questions in written discussion, provide the background that inspires your thinking.  For instance, instead of just saying, "Why does the narrator's doppelganger always appear when the narrator is about to do something immoral?" instead you might write, "I noticed that Wilson's doppelganger appears when he's drinking, gambling, and doing other immoral acts.  Why do you think his appearances coincide with Wilson's bad behavior?"  Particularly for those of you who, perhaps, aren't getting many responses to your questions, more clarity might help people answer them more effectively.

Happy blogging!

71 comments:

  1. How would the scene where the three men emerged from their car to confront the family been different if there was only The Misfit? Was this quality present in the movie trailers we watched?

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    1. Having two people with him gave him more power over the grandmother and the rest of the family. It makes him more intimidating and they also are a shield for him. They make him less vulnerable. In the south it is natural for a man in power to have "side-kicks" because like I said it makes him seem more powerful. Power inflicts fear.

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  2. What was the significance of The Misfit killing the grandma after all her "you're a good man" chatter?

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    1. It's basically the title of the story. He is not a good man, she says this to get into his head to give him the thought of not killing her. When he does kills her it exemplifies that a good man is hard to find.

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    2. The significance is that it symbolizes a changing of the guard. The grandam throughout the whole story is recalling the day when a person could leave their doors unlocked or have trust that if someone promised something, they would do it. The Misfit killing her shows the transition of an era of trust and kindness to one of backstabbing and paranoia. The Misfit is proving her that in this day and age a good man is really hard to find.

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    3. It shows that he has guilt and sadness inside. He is denying that he is good man which obviously means he knows what he has done and he does feel slightly bad for those actions. I think deep down he wants to be a good man but just can't. He doesn't believe the grandmother.

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    4. I also think that The Misfit killing the grandma after all her chatter is significant because her chatter causes him to remember where he came from and who he once was. The story ends with him stating that "It's no real pleasure in life" which to me shows a discontent with who he was. He had to kill her because all her questions reminded him, perhaps, of the moral values that he once had and cause him to feel regret for who he was.

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  3. What was the symbolism of the Misfit? Why is he called the Misfit and not something else?

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    1. Him being called the Misfit shows a contradiction between the grandma having a large family because that means she has a home and a good place to fit in. They could've called him something else synonymous with misfit but I don't think a different word would work with the story.

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    2. He called himself the Misfit because he could no longer pinpoint what it was that he was in trouble for, or who exactly he was meant to be.

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    3. A quote from the story around that passage reads, "You shouldn't call yourself The Misfit because I know you're a good man at heart." This suggests that his views contradict what The Misfit thinks. He is not a usual person at heart. He calls himself the misfit because he thinks he's a bad person. It is an extreme example of the effects of severe pessimism.

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  4. Why do you think that everyone in the story was given a name except for "the grandmother" and "the mother"?

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    1. Not giving names to the women in the family are elements of Southern Gothics where they are more discriminating towards people like African-Americans (as mentioned throughout the story)and taking the importance off of these characters. Even though the grandmother talks the most in the story, the Southern aspect makes it sound like all women talk a lot.

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    2. I am not sure why O'Connor decided to not give "the mother" a name, but by giving everyone else a name besides the grandmother, emphasis is shown on her role in the story. Since the morals of the story were based solely on her and The Misfit, by making her stand out, we can really understand her character better.

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    3. I thought it was an example of ambiguity. This was used in some Gothic fiction (like House of Usher), being either a reflection or it is so that the reader focuses on the story.

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    4. It adds mystery. By not having a name it makes them less familiar and less trustworthy. This could be the author's way of showing that the people who seem good may have a bad past. It is unknown.

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  5. What does The Misfit hope to accomplish by trying to inflict his moral views upon these random people he encounters? As ridiculous as it sounds, is it possible that in his mind he intends to make the world a better place?

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    1. I don't see his killing as making the world a better place but rather getting even for his punishment that doesn't match up to the crime. He probably wants the people that punished him to pay but he can't do that so he will kill everybody until he is satisfied from killing his punishers.

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    2. Really good question Colin, it seems as if the purpose of this Misfit is to show the worst in all of society, that people want to do good things in life, but lack motive of doing things in the right way. Now, under this intention, the Misfit also represents the over exposure to impurity in the world, and how purity only comes in ways people can't grasp.

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    3. It is not ridiculous at all. Al Qaeda and the KKK from the early 1900's may have been killing people based on their race, but it was all for giving their race dominance. Granted, this story talks about morals rather than race, but I do believe a similar motive is present.

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    4. I don't think that he intends to make the world a better place, even though it is a possibility, but more just for his own enjoyment. Like he said at the end to the grandmother "...then it's nothing for you to do but enjoy the few minutes you got left the best way you can by killing somebody or burning down his house or doing some other meanness to him. No pleasure but meanness." Like the story "Unnatural Killers" that we read earlier, Ben said that he felt power when he killed people. Maybe The Misfit got that same enjoyment.

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    5. The Misfit in a sense is trying to explain his actions. When he kills, it isn't in a passion or a fury. He just does it, simply without any fuss. He believes that there is no definable purpose in life and that in a sense he is just doing what any other person would do in his place. The world is just a place for hopeless people to live their joyless lives quickly before they too get sucked in oblivion.

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  6. How does the reflection of Catholicism as a religion play on the story? Knowing that the understanding of this religion plays into the author's life?

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    1. Maybe it is a reflection of Christianity on the whole because John Wesley (the name of the boy) was the name of the person who founded the Methodist church. I think talking about finding a good man is hard (when the family was in the diner and they were talking with the owners)is a very Christian conversation to have.

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  7. What motifs/symbols do you notice that are important? For instance, I noticed The Grandmother's hat definitely standing out as a symbol for skewed ideas of morality. What else did you notice?

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  8. How does the way a person is raised effect his/her beliefs?

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    1. When someone is raised his/her parents raise him/her in their beliefs and way of life and usually the child will grow up believing that or rebelling against it. He/she either agrees or doesn't as they grow older and that effects how they act as well.

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    2. A person's surroundings help influence their beliefs. Think about how your parents have brought you up. I'm sure most people have similar views to their parents because people are taught what is right and what is wrong by their parents and their elders.

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    3. The way person is raised effects their beliefs in that it gives them a good or bad moral foundation. For example, a person raised in a family where the parents taught right from wrong and set a good example would yield a person with a strong moral foundation. If that person was raised in a family where being bad was common and there was no right or wrong would yield a person without a strong moral foundation; but you also have to consider the morality of the person. It is not just solely on the parents.

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  9. How does the motif of the grandmother's hat reflect on the flow of the story? Why is it important to the whole story?

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  10. How important is the children's lack of respect to the story? They seemed to talk back to their parents, the restaurant owners, and even the misfit.

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    1. I thought that was interesting too, seeing as they do seem like a traditional Southern family, and they typically very much value respect in their children. It shows the flaws in the family system, starting with the Grandma as the root of the problem, and how problems with parenting can affect children, especially if the Misfit really is the Grandmother's son.

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    2. The children's lack of respect contributes to the moral of the story which the author used The Misfit to show. The misbehavior shows a lack of respect and care for life, which in The Misfit's eyes, many people take for granted. The children help to show a greater example of what the grandmother is representing.

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    3. It creates a sense of irony. The fact that the Grandmother complains about the lack of "good men" in this day and age, but she still allows these children, the future "good" man or woman, to act the way they do. Even more so when she tells the Misfit that he comes from good people and that he is her son. Just a big cake of irony all around.

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  11. What are your thoughts on the ending? Is the Grandmother really the mother of the Misfit? Whether true or not, what significance does it hold?

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    1. I don't think she is actually the mother, she just didn't want to be killed. She meant that she is another person, and she can connect with him, because she wanted him to change his mind about murdering her, but because of his character, that connection or even emotion may have shocked him, and he killed her right away instead.

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    2. I questioned that as well. Based upon the text, the Misfit if the Grandmother's son because she seems to recognize him even from the beginning. She mentions that she recognizes the shirt he is wearing, and she speaks to him as if she knows him.

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    3. Julia (or anyone), is there anything the Grandmother could have done to successfully avoid being killed by the Misfit?

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    4. This shows the significance of the uncanny. She thought that she new him but something, like time, made him different and mad. It makes sense that she would be the mother of the misfit but her son would have recognized his brother first. If the Misfit actually was her son, Bailey, would have had a greater reaction to his arrival and probably avoided the trip in the first place. The end is upsetting but it isn't a surprise.

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    5. Brooke, when you say that she recognizes the shirt, it is because that is the shirt her actual son, Baily, was wearing.

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    6. @Shannon- There was nothing she could have done, he was going to kill her either way, he just killed her faster because he didn't like her bringing up any emotional connection. But like the inner circle, this was his breaking point, and once he picked his target (this family) there was no good fate for them unless someone came along to save them.

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    7. Maybe it has a little bit to do with religion. It seems like she thinks if a person is religious and believes in God then they are a good person. So when she is saying he is a good man it may mean he is a child of God. That might make her think metaphorically they are related.

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  14. Why does the grandmother bring up religion and Jesus when she is begging with The Misfit? What does that do to the story and her character and the character of The Misfit?

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    1. That ties back to morals. The grandmother is a very moral person and answers to a higher power. The misfit, in contrast, has no higher power to follow, so he feels fewer consequences

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    2. Religion is the thing people often call upon in situations of distress. I also think part of it was that she was trying to make the Misfit feel guilty, and think about the long-term consequences of his actions. Like most of the grandmother's actions in the story, she was trying to save herself.

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    3. Religion is typically very strong in Southern life. The grandma is trying to make him fit in with the common people of the south, with a strong religion, and maybe his mind will be changed once he finds that he has a thing in common with the rest of the world. It affects the Misfit and makes him upset that he may have a slight connection with the town, just it's a different one than everybody expects.

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  15. What is on the inside of The Misfit? Emotionally and mentally?

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    1. On the inside, The Misfit is an insane man with clear moral which he wishes to portray. He does not understand proper ways to enforce his morals because of his mental state, so he jumps to radical measures in order to make people understand.

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    2. The Misfit is totally devoid of any emotion and completely insane. He is not insane in a literal sense (for example,not their at all) but, insane in that he has no emotional or moral compass. He his one of those people who just kills to kill and for no other reason than that. To quote Batman's butler, Alfred, he is one of those people "who want to sit back and watch the world burn".

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  16. If The Misfit is indeed the grandmother's son, why did it take her so long to come to that realization?

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    1. I don't think he is, because it makes sense that she would have brought it up earlier. I think it was a lie that she pulled out in a time of desperation as a last ditch attempt to save herself.

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    2. I don't think that she was really his mother. I think she recognized him from the news because she was talking about him before their trip, and she was just trying not to be killed.

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  17. Class: What is the significance in the lack of detail written into the story? In comparison to the other stories we have read, this is quite blunt and quick, lacking in descriptive nature.

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    1. There is a lack of detail because O'Connor wants you to imagine what happens in the woods but puts more emphasis on the conversation with The Misfit and the grandmother. It adds a mysterious and dark effect to the story.

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    2. I think this story seems more natural than any of the ones before. When something scary, important, or intense happens in real life, it is blunt and quick. Your mind doesn't take time to dwell on small details. In other stories, Usher for example, so much description and imagery is given that it seems unrealistic, and it seems like they are alluding to something, or trying to make you figure something out. Those might carry more obvious meaning, but this focuses more on the actual events.

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  18. Red Sam was a minor character in the story. Despite this, other than coining the story name, what is his significance?

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  19. What are some southern aspects of this story?

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  20. Does their have to be a twist at the end of every Gothic and Gothic-esque story?

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    1. That is a good point to bring up. I am sure that there does not have to be a twist, but it helps it become interesting. They start off slow and continually get more interesting until the end where a crazy twist happens.

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    2. It seems to be the theme of all these stories that there is an insane twist ending in each and every one of them.

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    3. I see that as a trait of the Gothic/Dark Romantics. Without the twist in the end, or the little bit of skewed reality, there is not an ending. Everything would be reality, rather than leave the reader questioning the morals, and the actuality of the situation.

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  21. Jaylin brings up a good point. Who is to blame for the insanity of the Misfit? Nature? Nurture? Or someone else?

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    1. His past is responsible for his insanity because of his father dying and his lack of religion I think he has lost faith and he has no morals or cares any more.

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  22. Why do you think that O'Connor puts the most detail on how the grandmother is positioned (who half sat and half lay in a puddle of blood with her legs crossed under her like a child's and her face smiling up at the cloudless sky) when the Misfit's boys come out of the forest?

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  23. What is the significance of the boys, Hiram and Bobby Lee? Also, is there a significance as to which side of the car the emerge from?

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  24. We learned that A Good Man Is Hard To Find is a Southern Gothic story. How does it differ from the other three Gothic short stories we have read?

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  25. One thing I noticed from the film clips is that they deal with the idea of morality and remorse: do bad actions a bad person make? Or, in terms of this story, is there any way that the Misfit could have been a good man? Perhaps if he acted differently when they met him despite his reputation, or if he felt guilty about what he did, it i possible for him, or any good person, to be a good man?

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