n the coming weeks, you will each complete a researched literary analysis essay

n the coming weeks, you will each complete a researched literary analysis essay that will depend on your ability to read literary criticism and synthesize that with your own interpretations to support and develop a clear thesis about meaning in the literature you’re reading. This type of writing involves your own analysis of the literature as well as your understanding of other interpretations in order to join the conversation with scholars who are conversing about the literature. Thus, this bonus discussion is a good time to practice those skills.
As part of this unit, you have read an excerpt where Flannery O’Connor herself explains her own intent in writing and her own meaning for “A Good Man Is Hard to Find.” For this discussion, you should also read the critical essays by Bob Dowell, Michael Clark, and Joe Fassler included in your textbook. Then, join the conversation they are having by writing your own analysis of O’Connor’s story and answering the following questions. Include quotes from at least two men to show that you are responding to their analyses of O’Connor’s story.
Dowell takes “A Good Man Is Hard to Find” very seriously as a carefully constructed narrative, and he tries to draw a distinction between the spiritual and psychological motivations of the characters. He argues that “Miss O’Connor’s fiction is primarily concerned with man’s life-and-death spiritual struggle” (162). Do you think it is possible to appreciate the story without reading it with a spiritual or religious interpretation? Why or why not? Use references to Dowell’s essay as a starting point for your argument, and respond to his analysis.
Additionally, look at Joe Fassler’s analysis of the story, where he focuses on the type and meaning of the grandmother’s epiphany. How did you originally interpret the epiphany, and how does our understanding the nature of the grandmother’s epiphany relate to our sympathy for her? Do you feel more or less sympathy for her if you think her new knowledge changes her or leaves her essentially unchanged?
Clark focuses on the importance of the climax of the story in his essay, asking whether “the grandmother’s final act–her touching of The Misfit–[should] be taken as a token of true, divine grace and spiritual insight” or if the story should simply be seen as a “naturalistic document” (163). He argues that it is important to read a story with authorial intent–in this case, O’Connor’s religious beliefs–in mind to inform us of the story’s true meaning. Does authorial intent matter? Argue for or against the claim that O’Connor’s stories must be read according to what she says is their intended meaning. Use references to Clark’s essay as a starting point for your argument.
Finally, feel free to explain how your own spiritual or religious beliefs might inform or conflict with these varying interpretations. How much of a part does the reader play when bringing meaning to a story? (You do not have to share any more personal information than you feel comfortable sharing.)