Flannery O’Connor’s “A Good Man is Hard to Find” and Alice Munro’s “Boys and Girls” both use symbols to highlight significant meanings in the characters’ lives. This essay will examine two differences and one similarity in the authors’ use of symbols: * O’Connor uses a gun to symbolize fear, whereas Munro uses a gun to characterize shame.
* O’Connor uses a specific animal to signify death, while Munro uses a specific animal to represent freedom.
* In both stories, the house symbolizes imprisonment.
O’Connor uses the gun that The Misfit carries to symbolize fear. Until the climax, the family was enjoying their road trip to Tennessee. When The Misfit, Hiram, and Bobby Lee arrive with their guns, the characters in the
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When Laird falls asleep, the narrator stays up telling happy stories about herself. She quotes “for the time that remained to me, the most perfectly private and perhaps the best time of the whole day” (Munro 84). She feels satisfied and free during this time of the night. In one of her stories, she says “I rode a fine horse spiritedly down the main street of Jubilee” (Munro 84). She then compares that scenario to King Billy, the only one that had enough freedom to ride a horse in Jubilee. The horse symbolized freedom to her. When Mack is shot, the narrator shows feelings of guilt. She starts to reevaluate her father’s work. When it is Flora’s turn to get shot, the narrator opens the gate wide instead of shutting it. “She was running free in the barnyard, from one end to the other” (Munro 93). Avoiding guilt, the narrator lets Flora run free like in her stories.
In both stories, the house symbolizes imprisonment. In O’Connor’s personal life, she moved back to Milledgeville permanently when she survived her first life-threatening attack. “In spite of the debilitating effects of the drugs used for treating lupus, O’Connor managed to devote a good part of the day to writing” (O’Connor article). O’Connor portrays her own feelings through using the house as a symbol. In the story, June Star insults the grandmother by saying “she wouldn’t stay at home to be queen for a day” and “she