Essay on Analysis of "Greenleaf" by Flannery O’Connor

Essay on Analysis of "Greenleaf" by Flannery O’Connor

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The short story “Greenleaf” by Flannery O’Connor tells of Mrs. May, an old, bitter, and selfish woman. She thinks badly of everyone around her, including her own two sons. It also compares her family to that of the Greenleaf family, who Mrs. May sees as inferior to her. O’Connor unveils the story of Mrs. May and her demise through the use of point of view, character, and symbolism. She uses the third person omniscient view to give the reader a sense of Mrs. May’s character, and the symbols of the bull, and the conflict between the bull and Mrs. May to show Mrs. May’s destruction as well as give the story a deeper meaning of God’s grace.

O’Connor uses the limited omniscient point of view in the story so that the reader learns more about each character and family as they go along, as opposed to knowing everything from the beginning. It also brings and emphasis to Mrs. May so to focus on the way she sees the world. This way the reader gets a more biased look at everything because the story is told from her point of view and Mrs. May attempts to make herself out to be a good woman who is simply wronged by everyone else. The reader better gets to know her character this way, along with the other characters, but in Mrs. May’s more biased view of them. For example, Mrs. May refers to the Greenleaf’s as dirty and is always referring to how they “murder the king’s English”. From this point of view the reader also gets an understanding of Mrs. May’s way of thinking. In Mrs. May’s mind, the world in which she lives operates in cause and effect situations. She believes that if she acts like a respectable woman, than good things should happen to her. Alternately, those who act like “trash” will get what she thinks they deserve. For exam...


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...tory of being a “good Christian women, but not believing in God”. Since she does not have a close connection with God like the Greenleaf’s, she only sees the bull as a nuisance and not for what it is truly meant to represent, which is why she wishes to chase it away.


Finally, the story “Greenleaf” uses many literary devices, such as symbolism, point of view and characterization to tell the story effectively and give it a deeper meaning that the reader must pay close attention to, to find. It explains why the story is called “Greenleaf” as opposed to “May” because the Greenleaf’s are more spiritual than the Mays and more then they seem at first glance. While the Mays may appear to be superior at first glance, ironically the “uneducated” and “dirty” Greenleaf’s that Mrs. May despises so much are more spiritual and end up in a higher class as shown by their sons.

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