The Artificial Nigger: Truths Behind Racism

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In O'Connor's "The Artificial Nigger" the essences of prejudice and degradation are captured to a great extent. Reality shows us with needless consistency people in a need to feel better about themselves only achieve it by being better than someone else. Therefore every opportunity at hand, including racism, is taken advantage as a form of gratification. Mr. Head, the grandfather, is an example of one of these people. He is in competition with seemingly everyone he encounters while in a day trip to the City. Racism is just one of the ways he utilizes to demean others while elevating his own self-image. O'Connor's depiction of a Southern, and close-minded person goes into the extreme depths of what constitutes as well as produces an imprudent racist. Mr. Head, a self-proclaimed missionary, plans on taking his grandson, Nelson, to Atlanta city. Intending to introduce Nelson to the focal point of his racist teachings. However, Mr. Head's subconscious motives are to have Nelson believe his grandfather's existence in his life is indispensable. He hopes Nelson dependency upon him increases. Doing so would not only make his own self feel superior but also satisfy his own dependency needs. He's content with the thought that once Nelson has had the opportunity in experiencing the city. He will "be content to stay at home for the rest of his life"(251). His only comforting thoughts, as he laid to sleep before the day of the trip, were not of turning Nelson into a racist however, of "thinking how the boy would at last find out that he was not as smart as he thought he was"(251). Degrading anyone, including his own grandson, is another way by which Mr. Head can feel satisfied with himself. He welcomes and anticipates the point at which Nelson questions his own intelligence. Towards the beginning of the story Mr. Head belittles Nelson rationalizing once arriving in the city "he will've been there twict"(250). Considering Atlanta was his place of birth Nelson believed it to be true. Logically Nelson made sense nevertheless, "Mr. Head had contradicted him" (250). Irony is first present here as Mr. Head continuously accuses Nelson of being ignorant, yet Mr. Head is the one displaying ignorance in every spoken.From the beginning of the story Mr. Head is seen as a character extremely selfish and only concerned with ... ... middle of paper ... ...ad, now faced with a choice, I believe chooses to ignore his enlightenment. His character throughout the story displayed ignorant, adolescent, frightful behaviors. I find it hard to believe him altering his manner. He's acknowledged his dependency on Nelson and Nelson now is conforming to him. As they stood watching the train fade into the distance, he comments, "I'm glad I've went once, but I'll never go back again". (270) Nelson finally concedes to have experienced the city once, not twice as he adamantly claimed. For Mr. Head choosing to do nothing is a choice in itself."The Artificial Nigger" is a great story, which can be used to help better understand what sorts of underlining factors come into play when people have deep hatreds of distinct cultures. Not commonly can a racist attribute all his hate to the color of ones skin. There are almost always other issues, which can be linked back to low self worth. Such as if someone of a different race was promoted while another looked over. Those are such beginnings of racist thoughts and later actions. Works CitedO'Connor, Flannery. Complete Stories by Flannery O'Connor New York: Farrar, Straus, Giroux 1979

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