Theme Of The Artificial Nigger

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In Flannery O’Connor’s The Artificial Nigger, we see the story of a grandfather (Mr. Head) and his grandson (Nelson) who take a trip to the city of Atlanta. Along the way the grandfather and Nelson encounter many situations that both challenge them and condemn them. In the end, however, the two both learn a valuable lesson. Ironically they only learned this after leaving their own home, getting lost someone else’s home and then returning to their home. Flannery O’Connor uses this short story to presents the theme of humility, grace, and forgiveness through the journey the Mr. Head and Nelson embark on in the story. In the beginning of the short story we find that the grandfather has decided to take Nelson on a trip the city of Atlanta. Nelson…show more content…
She wrote in a time where race relations were very tense. We get a glimpse into the society of the south in which she lived. In the story we see that racism plays a role. When Mr. Head and Nelson are on the train and the black gentlemen get on with the two young black women that were behind him, Mr. Head grabs onto Nelson’s arm tightly. He was protecting Nelson from the huge “coffeed colored man” (TAN. p. 109). Then we see another example of society at that time during Mr. Head’s encounter with the black waiter on the train. Mr. Head tries to take Nelson into the kitchen and the waiter stops them and tells them that they cannot go back there. Mr. Head was upset and felt slightly disrespected and shouted a snappy comment “And there’s good reason for that… because the cockroaches would run the passengers out”! (TAN. p. 112). He intended to embarrass the black waiter and in a way show his superiority. This was something common of the time. As well this was meant to show Nelson how to deal with black people. Then the time spent in the black neighborhood reveal how rare it was to see blacks and whites in the same spaces. Mr. Head and Nelson did not feel comfortable until they were back in a predominantly white neighborhood. The fact that there were separate neighborhoods for the different races alluded to how the two races did not mix. Flannery O’Connor delivers a wonderful short story that made the reader uncomfortable…show more content…
The journey of Mr. Head and Nelson changes them in ways that they could not have for seen. Mr. Head and Nelson both learn valuable lessons that should impact them for the rest of their lives. Nelson learns humility and forgiveness and Mr. Head learns humility and grace. Their experiences cause them to confront themselves and think deeply. This story is a great read and one can learn a great deal from reading
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