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Visages of Two Stories sample essay

Flannery O’Connor’s A Good Man is Hard to Find and Tobias Wolff’s Bullet in the Brain are two short stories each having unlikeable lead characters. Both stories revolved around the lives of the lead characters which were shown using humor and twists and turns. Flannery O’Connor, an American writer, was known for her Southern Gothic writing style. Her literary works are indicative of her beliefs of the Roman Catholic. Tobias Wolff, also an American writer, was known for his short stories and memoirs.

A Good Man is Hard to Find is a story of a family going for a vacation. It began with the Grandmother explaining to her son Bailey about the murderous Misfit who was on the loose so she wouldn’t have to go to Florida for vacation and would instead have go to Tennessee. She was not able to persuade her son and the rest of the family. The next morning they drove off to Florida. The Grandmother portrayed the image of someone who was self-centered and unpleasant. She also seemed to be more concerned on how she would look like a Christian than act like one.

In the end, the family was murdered by the Misfit and his two cohorts. The Bullet in the Brain, on the other hand, began in with a book critic named Anders who was on a bank one day. Similar to the Grandmother from O’Connor’s story, Anders was also one character who is unlikeable. He depicted someone who was ill-tempered and sardonic. While waiting in a long line of customers, two bank robbers entered the scene and threatened the people. Anders was someone who was not intimidated by anyone, even by bank robbers. And here is where the trouble for the protagonist began.

Instead of doing the right thing, he ridiculed the robbers which resulted to his death. The Grandmother and Anders were two comical people who talked too much. Before the two died, they presented their own sentiments which the readers would have, undoubtedly, felt. There was an unexpected turn of events when the Grandmother was about to be killed. She suddenly claimed that the Misfit was a good man. This was contrary to what she had mentioned about the Misfit at the beginning of the story. She mentioned that would not take her children to a place with an unconfined criminal.

She said her conscience would not be able to bear it if she did. The position she was in at the end of the story, seemed to have taken out the goodness and the true Christian from her. Because of the fear and the pressure she felt, she was able to see the goodness in the hands of something or someone so evil. What happened to Anders was another thing. Before he died, Wolff presented the things that the protagonist did not think of: the disappointments in his relationship with his family, the boredom he felt towards his work, etc.

And by the time the readers were building inside then the sadness and the sympathy towards Anders, the author provided what Anders was thinking at that crucial moment. And boom, it was really unexpected because at that very moment before he died what he thought of was his sarcasm in his early years. And the seemingly sad ending of the story turned out to be odd and amusing. The evil in the two stories have had similar and contrasting effects to the lead characters. The Grandmother and Anders had their share of insight with regards to the incident.

The Grandmother may only be saving herself from death or she could have really realized the Misfit had goodness in him and that her prejudices were untrue. Nevertheless, it was too late for her. In Anders case, what he remembered before he died was what he was truly about. The last scenario substantiated the fact about Anders’ attitude. In the stories, varying prejudices can be observed and this shows that each one of us is entitled to own opinions and sets of truths.


O’Connor, Flannery. “A Good Man Is Hard to Find. ” 1955. Wolff, Tobias. “Bullet in the Brain. ” 1995.

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