The Bull as a Symbol in Flannery O'Connor's “Greenleaf”

Decent Essays
Zabdiel Munoz The Bull as a Symbol in Flannery O 'Connor 's “Greenleaf” “How do you like that? I 'm the victim. I 've always been the victim.” These are the words of Mrs. May, a character in Flannery O 'Connor’s short story, “Greenleaf”. Her remark is interesting because after studying the stories of various millionaires and successful people in the world, I discovered that a key trait that all of them possess is that they made a decision to not live their life as victims to their external circumstances. However, this is not the case with Mrs. May. She spent fifteen years living miserably because of her condescending and negative attitude towards the people in her life, especially the Greenleafs. Finally, to top it all of, a stray bull…show more content…
May 's disdainful mindset is corrupting her character, her future, and her children 's future. This also gives us more insight into Mrs. May 's dream of the bull eating everything, including her and her sons. This eventually leads to the destruction and death of Mrs. May. Towards the very end, Mrs. May has a moment of grace where her eyes are finally opened to the truth, but by that it was too late; the bull killed her. Throughout the story, O 'Connor uses Mrs. May 's own words to foreshadow that this was going to happen. May says to her son, concerning the way he was living, “You 'll wake up some day and it 'll be too late.” She later yells at both of her sons saying, “You 'll find out one of these days, you 'll find out what Reality is when it 's too late!” O 'Connor 's emphasis on the word “reality” is important because it reveals that Mrs. May does not really know what reality is. In other words, her perspective and mindset is causing her to live in a virtual reality where she has to constantly look at others condescendingly and hold them in contempt because she feels she is a victim and that “everything is against [her]”. She later tells Mr. Greenleaf in an argument, “Some people learn gratitude too late... and some never learn it at all.” Throughout all of this O 'Connor is giving the reader insight into the conflict happening inside Mrs. May. However, at that last moment when she is recalling
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