Characters tend to
drive themes of stories. This is probably clear in Yann Martel’s “Life Of Pi,”
where we follow a young boy’s tale of survival, ascent into manhood, and moving
past a traumatic event. Another story that seems to have its theme be made by
its characters is “A Good Man is Hard to Find” by Flannery O’Connor,
sporting an active lead role in a close-minded Grandmother that’s set in her
ways along with a downright insane villain in the form of The Misfit. This paper will tend to portray the theme of
religion within major characters from the two short stories.
The most obvious
characters that can be compared to these two stories are the Grandmother and
Pi, and the most comfortable comparison that one could make between these two
strong personalities are their fanatical devotion to the theme of religion.
It’s clear that the Grandmother holds right a strict set of Christian beliefs
when she tells the person who just murdered her son and grandkids that he is
“a good man” and consistently saying to the Misfit that Jesus will
save him. Even unto her death, she was continually saying Jesus’s name
throughout the ordeal. Pi also seems to follow a strict code of rituals as he
continues to practice his religions through his journey. The author even
describes how Pi came to exercise all of them, further giving detail into Pi’s
life as a whole and almost giving the reader a reason to empathize with his
insane practice of three religions. Even on the life raft with a dangerous
tiger in his presence every day, he continues to consistently follow most of
the rituals of each religion with fervor, unless he is unable to physically
perform them. Another comparison that could be made between Pi and the
Grandmother is their views on the world. The grandmother’s view of the world is
a very close-minded one, Whereas Pi’s picture is much more universal.
Pi stays devoted to the
analysis of God. Evidently, he has got a belief in every faith although he doesn’t
safeguard these particular doctrines covetously. Pi tells a gorgeous story
whereby, every period milkmaids attempt to own Krishna he disappears.
Similarly, every period sacred faith attempts to assert exclusive possession of
God, right religion escapes. Every parable discloses some of Pi’s workings
multifaceted religious beliefs. It may be shocking on how a person could
entirely hold Hindu, Christian and Muslim faiths at once. But the answer that
Pi gives is that, this can be done without having any trace of jealousy.Martel
(55) Religious beliefs as well as stories are connected to Pi’s life since Pi
claims that each of them needs faith on the listener’s part. But what is
surprising about Pi as being a religious boy is that he admires
nonbelievers. What is essential
according to Pi is believing in something and Pi may appreciate the ability of
an atheist in finding in the absence of God and not having a concrete proof of
that particular absence. For Pi, agnostics who do not make a step of faith in
either of the directions are similar to listeners who don’t appreciate the
non-literal truth which an imaginary story may provide.
Pi is a son to a
zookeeper in India. Even though his family has modern concepts of secularism,
Pi is drained to religion. When he is in his adolescence, he adopts Catholic,
Hinduism and also Islam. Each of this faiths offers him a thing which he felt
was not there during his spiritual life and due to this, at no point does he
think he has to select a particular religion against another one. Even though
Pi is pleased and also comfortable with his three religions, leaders of the
faiths and his parents are not fascinated when they hear about his extensive
view of religion. But Pi states that he just wants to love and adore God,
“Il just want to love God’ (Martel 69) and will not select among
religions. He finds out about atheism from his biology teacher, Mr. Kumar. Even
though he respected the teacher, he does not feel satisfied exploring entire
concepts of atheism or looking at the way science hold its singular beauty and
not require a deity. For Pi, belief is among the enjoyable actions of the human
life. Living differently is living statistically. This religious decision
occurs before Pi sets a float in a lifeboat that is occupied with wild zoo
animals. This story is meant to make those who listen to it believe in God.
often comes out in “A Good Man Is Hard to Find.” The Misfit is often a sign of
the anti-christ and is depicted via the reversal of divine features. The Misfit
is bothered by little children, even stating, “Lookout for the kids, Bobby
Lee,” he said. “you area wre I get nervous because of them”
(O’Connor 642). Michael O. Bellamy emphasizes that this “set of inversion
is consistent with the Misfit’s entire personality” (Bellamy 200). When
the Misfit is called “a different breed of dog,” this shows the
inversion of the word God itself, and “demonology is based on inverting
the sacred” (O’Connor 643 Blemmy 200). Moreover, “the Misfit is a
self-imposed title,” which is representative of “the symbol of this eventual
misfit of Christian belief, Satan” (O’Connor 186). The emphasis on the
Misfit’s alienation from society is shown by the symbolism of the true misfit
in Christianity. The rejection of Satan by God can be reversed to say that
Satan rejects God, and thus the Misfit reject religion.
As the story begins, we
see the way the Grandmother is very preoccupied with all things in the world
and which are superficial. All that she cares about is the way the rest of the
people perceive her. “Her collars together with the cuffs were bright
organdies cropped using cored, within her neck, there was a pinned colored bouquet
of material violcomprisng a packet. If there was a calamity, anybody who saw
her deceased within the rouad could find out she is a woman” (O’Connor 413).
Even if the Grandmother
uses Christianity throughout in the story, and acts like a messenger of Christ
in the entire story, she never portrays the above characteristics. When we look
at the two initial sentences in the story, “the grandmother did not have
the intention of going to Florida. She only needed to visit particular
connection in east Tennessee, and she was making use of every opportunity so
that she would change the mind of Bailey (O’Connor 117). From the start it is
evident that the Grandmother is very manipulative and is willing to go above
the heads of the other characters for her to acquire whatever she needs. Again,
after Bailey who is the Grandmother’s son disagrees with the request of her mother
in changing their plans for vacation, she ends up flinging the newspaper
towards her son and displays to him the story which is in the cover page about
a man by the name Misfit who heads towards Florida and is well known because of
his murder splurges. “I would not go along with my children towards a direction
with such a criminal, “the Grandmother utters. “I could not answer to any of my
conscience if I would” (O’Connor 117).
When we compare the
characters, grandmother and Misfit, we see the way Misfit declines religion then
again confesses to the grandma that “Nome, I am not a decent man” (O’Connor 17).
From Revelations 3:16, the Bible states, “Therefore, since you are
lukewarm–neither hot nor cold–I am nearby to spittle you away from my mouth.”
The section in the spiritual background simply explains that God wishes that you
receive or discard him entirely. Misfit denies faith as well as belief, the
grandmother on the other claims to be a woman with ethics due to her faith, who
merely depends on religion whenever her life is in danger. After the Misfit kills her, he says, “she
might have remained a decent woman if someone was here to shoot her each minute
of this woman’s life” (O’Connor 23). This statement from the Misfit is
helpful in summarizing the hypocrisy of the grandmother and again her lukewarm
religion which usually uses when she needs her life to be saved but not in each
face of her life.
Religion and goodness
are directly linked to blood, according to Owen’s critical analysis
publication, which states that grandmother believed that blood carried superior
qualities. The grandmother is very conscious throughout the story of who she
associated with, because people can either have “common blood” or
“good blood.” An example of someone being from “common
blood” would be her reference to the young black child to a “pick
ninny.” This shows that she feels a certain way towards people of different
color, which is the opposite of God’s views when he states he “loves all his
children.” The grandmother is careful to point out that goodness and religion
are linked to blood, (Owen 30).
Both Pi and the
Grandmother from “Life of Pi” and “A Good Man is Hard to Find,” respectively,
have got very many similarities to each other that are more than just baseline.
The way they handle situations and adapt to change, however, is drastically
different and ultimately cost one of them their life. Richard Parker grew to
respect Pi as an equal or at least accepted the fact that they both needed each
other. The Misfit, however, did not like the grandmother for her set-in-her
ways attitude cost her life. It is clear that not everyone has got a belief in
religion and thus it is relevant to respect opinions of others and not pretend
to be what we are not by hiding our identities behind religion.
Martel, Yann, and Jane
Rollason. Life of Pi. , 2014. Print.
Martel, Yann. Life
of Pi. S.l.: HighBridge Audio, 2012. Internet resource.
Flannery. A Good Man Is Hard to Find. , 2016. Internet resource.
O’Connor, Flannery, Michael
O. Bellamy. Three: Wise Blood; a Good Man Is Hard to Find; the Violent Bear
It Away. New York: New American Library, 1980. Print.
“The Function Of Signature In `A Good Man Is Hard To Find’.”Studies
InShortFiction33.1 (1996): 101.Academic Search Complete. Web. 30 May 2013.