The Self-Deception of Self-Righteousness Essay examples

The Self-Deception of Self-Righteousness Essay examples

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The Bible gives a profound warning about self-righteousness. "If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. (I John 1:8). Flannery O'Connor's short story, A Good Man Is Hard to Find (1953), provokes the reader to consider the issue of grace and righteousness. The main character in the story, the grandmother, believes that in her day "people did right" (386) and certainly in her mind, she was foremost the righteous of all. In analyzing the actions of the grandmother, insight is gained about her attitudes and values. It becomes evident by the end of the story that her deliberate choices of dress, her subtle remarks of social prejudices, and her clever methods of manipulation lead her to an awareness of her feigned righteousness and ushers her into a true state of grace.

First of all, appearance in some instances is used as a determinant in deciding if someone is of superior character. The grandmother believes this to be true as seen by the great pains she takes to dress appropriately for the family trip to Florida. Though her wardrobe is one that is not particularly uncommon for the era, a few things are worthy of taking note. For instance, the" white" gloves, the hat with the "white" violets, the dress with the small "white" dots, as well as the collars and cuffs of "white" organdy are indicative of her belief that she is a righteous lady. O'Connor, obviously knowing that white is symbolic of purity and righteousness uses this color effectively to give the reader clues about the grandmother's perception of herself. The grandmother is careful to make sure that she is adorned appropriately just in case anyone sees her dead. If so, they would "know at once that she was a lady" (385). However, upon...

... middle of paper ... serve to keep her from seeing herself as she really is. The grandmother's manipulation is simply a dishonest approach to controlling her family. In the end these characteristics of the grandmother actually brought her to a place of physical death which is seen as a type of spiritual dying to one's self in order to embrace true righteousness by entering into a state of grace. Some insight can be gained from the Misfit's brief commentary on the life of the grandmother. "She would of been a good woman...if it had been somebody there to shoot her every minute of her life (395).

Works Cited

O'Connor, Flannery. "A Good Man Is Hard To Find." The Bedford Introduction to Literature. Ed. Michael Meyer. 6th ed. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin's, 2002. 384-395.

The Holy Bible. Iowa Falls, Iowa: World Bible Publishers

Webster's New Collegiate Dictionary. 1977 ed.

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