These two masterpieces “the Story of an Hour” by Kate Chopin and “A Good Man is Hard to Find” by Flannery O’ Conner are a real picture of the time period when it was written. A Good Man is Hard to Find, is an example of gothic literature which portrays the background of slavery and Civil War, whereas, the historical background of The Story of an Hour is based on women’s behavior and the female desire for independence which was more preferred than love and marriage. It was a time when a typical American woman of the nineteenth century would be a pure house wife taking care of her house, children and husband indifferent from her inner desires.
The setting of the story “A Good Man is Hard to Find” is in the middle of a forest somewhere in the 1940s where the family was going on a vacation by road, whereas “The Story of an Hour” is the story of the 1900s inside the house which belonged to the Mallards.
The theme of the story by Chopin begins and ends with heart trouble, where the heart disease is “a joy that kills”. This situation is ironic where we find Louise Mallard feeling extremely happy as well as disappointed when she found her husband Brently returning alive. Chopin uses the metaphor that states the heart problem is more emotional rather than medical. This would bring a loss to freedom and marriage would continue. The theme of the story by Conner revolves around good versus evil, where the grandmother who presumed that she is good confronts with the criminal (evil) and is killed. The entire story is pessimistic portraying human meanness and exploitation showing curious ways God deals with human beings. It also moves around a disorganized family and the way they behaved towards each other yet were living together and their departure for a vacation.
Kate Chopin has named the main character of her story as “Mallard” which is a kind of wild duck symbolizing freedom. She upon hearing the news of her husband’s death reacts as every woman would and sobbed whereas her inner feelings were contradicting this. The complex issues of female behavior whether to be happy or unhappy at the death of her husband come forth. Mrs. Mallard is unhappy at the sudden news of her husband’s death where we find her as a sympathetic character; on the other hand her exhilaration to become independent creates a paradoxical situation of happiness where she says “free body and free soul”.
In the story “A Good Man is Hard to find” the grandmother plays the main role and the whole story revolves around her. She poses to be a pure Christian in spite of it she was unable to pray for herself during the crisis when they were all being murdered by gangsters. Her hat symbolizes moral codes though she had misguiding concepts. She reveals herself as a selfish lady having fragile moral beliefs. On the other hand, Misfit sticks to a different concept of religion, “No pleasure but meanness”. His moral codes are ferocious and yet in the end he is the one who gains accomplishment.
The characters in the story have their own behaviors. Bailey is the head of the family, but pays full respect to Grandma, who is an infuriating woman having no feelings for anyone other than her son. She wants things to be done her way and imposes her desires over others even though it may lead to danger. John Wesley an intolerable eight year old boy, who speaks loudly and Jun Star a loathsome young girl with a loud voice and observes things minutely and gives harsh remarks of all around her. Misfit is the wanted criminal, who in fact seems to have murdered his father and finally in the end kills the grandmother too. Apart from these we have the characters of the mother who is a typical woman looking after the family and house and then there are the two criminals who followed Misfit’s orders- Hiram and Bobby Lee who kill the rest of the family as ordered.
Both the stories are short stories which present the different styles of the writers. Chopin in her story “The Story of an Hour” uses precise arrangements and unique methods to amplify the dramatic scenes taking place during the hour. On the other hand Flannery O’ Conner uses simple language in her story to create the scene for the readers. Her language used in the story “A Good Man is Hard to Find” is simply the use subject- verb and a few modifiers here and there.
As can be seen in both the stories the main roles are played by women who are described as selfish, hence are not appealing for the readers in the beginning of the stories. Furthermore, the climax of both stories are tragic where the main characters die, for instance in the Story of an Hour Mrs. Mallard dies a natural death, a heart attack, and in “A Good Man is Hard to Find” the whole family including grandma, the main character, are murdered mercilessly by the criminals. These short stories create sympathetic feelings for the characters towards the end, as the endings come as a shock for the reader, where within a short span of time the entire incidents take place and both the women are dead. To sum up, Chopin and Conner wrote these remarkable pieces of writing in which they show that women can make wrong decisions which can end up in disasters. For instance it was due to grandma’s misguidance that the family went on the wrong path and came across Misfit who murdered them, likewise, if Louise had been true to her husband and would have loved him deeply, would have lived when she saw her husband alive in the end.
Chopin, Kate. (1984). The Story of an Hour. Web. 16 October 2012.
Conner, Flannery O’. A Good Man Is Hard To Find. Web. 16 October 2012.