Violence in “Hunters in the Snow” and “A Good Man is Hard to Find”

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Ours is a violent world where even the most common folk can find themselves faced with unspeakable horror through little or no intention. In Flannery O’Connor’s “A Good Man is Hard to Find,” the characters find themselves at the mercy of armed men because of a faulty memory and a few wrong turns. In Tobias Wolff’s “Hunters in the Snow,” a young man winds up shooting his friend in an apparent accident which culminates in a debate between saving that friend or whether it is more important to preserve the self. The stories work together to explore what humans will do when faced with terrible violence.
The story “A Good Man is Hard to Find” by Flannery O’Connor is famous for its use of unexpected violence. An unnamed grandmother
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The car turns over and the accident has left their automobile unable to go further. The children, seeing their first moment of violence are delighted and are only sad that no one has died in the collision. Since the kids have never experienced real loss or real pain before, the experience is one of novelty to them. When aid arrives, it is ironically in the form of The Misfit. The children’s enthusiasm and curiosity about why their Samaritan carries a gun is nothing. It is the grandmother who is nearly obsessed with violence who dooms the family. The final moments of the story are jarring, even more than half a century after they were written. While the family is taken into the woods and murdered one by one, grandmother sits begging The Misfit for her life by trying to appeal to his humanity. She asks him to pray and assures him that she believes that he is a good man at heart. This ploy does not work. “The Misfit sprang back as if a snake had bit him and shot her three times through the chest. Then he put his gun down on the ground and took off his glasses and began to clean them” (O’Connor). It is one thing when you are sitting at a restaurant discussing what a person might do when faced with a murderer. It is quite another when the reality comes to you directly which is the point of the story. To those unacquainted with violence first hand, one can only speculate. To those very

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