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Literature - Woman Authors

22 Jun 2017Literature Essays


Folktales are the facts and incidents related to the lives of ordinary people but they carry profound meaning and provide the realistic assessment of their existence. The life of each individual is a folk-tale, something very special, whether you name it thus or not. In her story, Leslie Marmon Silko has provided unassailable facts and arguments as to how folktale is part of our present life and what is has in store for the future. Flannery O’ Connors takes on the nihilistic philosophy of life. How is myth employed in the criticism of a given social and cultural order? Can myth and fiction play a role in the transformation of the real world and what could be its impact on the day to day life of humankind?

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The common theme in both stories is the impact they create in the minds of the readers as for the role of noble qualities and spirituality in the life of a human being. “Many people hold destructive opinions without considering their full implications. Flannery O'Connor's "Good Country People" uses characterization, symbolism, and irony to warn people with a nihilistic philosophy of life that their beliefs will inevitably lead to ruin. In this story a young atheist woman is destroyed when she is brought face-to-face with the evil personification of her worldview.”( www. literature...) The story deals with the interplay of pairs of opposites. Good and bad, proud and humble, integrity and corruption etc. One’s heart and mind do not always work in tandem. Intelligence and humility also need not go hand in hand.

There is no limit to the storage capacity of a corrupt heart, as for the negative tendencies. It contains a variety of evils like pride, criminality, sexually demonic etc. and the net effect is, it becomes utterly corrupt. The main theme of the story is corruption related to the mind and heart. The two main characters of the story Ms. Hopwell and Mrs.Freeman see nothing but corruption in the minds and small and big actions of the people with whom they interact. The author creates a picture of the simple actions of the characters, as if they have no other business except to see evil and do evil. Eyes with the tainted glasses see everything tainted. The usage of bad slang, though in the wittiest manner, is not a fair action. Malice-coated words cannot deliver favorable results and are not conducive to emit positive vibrations. The “bible salesman,” in the story is the example of symbolism used by the author to highlight the quality and character of Manley Pointer. She creates such twist in the plot with telling effect, at the most unsuspected moment by the reader. The very mention of the word bible evokes genuine feelings as for the personality associated. You think that he is kind at heart and a devout Christian. He is the ideal country person. But in the later part of the story we find him to be the Satan in the guise as a saintly person. He just has the cross on the neck, but no Christ in the heart.

Through her intelligent application of repeated paradigms, Flannery proves how the phrase, “good country people” is a misnomer. She touches the border of spirituality and grapples with issues like the inter-play of good and evil, and through her character she reveals how the never-ending tussle goes between corrupt hearts and pride of intellect. Her characters give the testimony that how the nihilistic philosophy of life will lead to utter ruin. Why is it not advisable to get caught in the web of evil actions which produce the most unwanted reactions? She achieves this effect through her character Hulga, a doctorate intellectual, who believes that there is no purpose in life. She has an artificial leg, and that is an integral symbol in the story. She is possessive, worried and sensitive about her leg, and she is the only one who has ever touched it. Otherwise she scorns and scoffs at everyone. The author describes through her characters how it is nice to be a good nihilist than a wicked god-fearing man. What does nihilistic philosophy mean? --in a way, it is the materialistic view of life.

What is true spiritual life needs proper explanation. Spiritualism as it is practiced, by majority of the people belonging to various societies, is no spirituality at all. The real spirituality transcends the borders of reason. Such a level is rightly explained by Silko and she suggests the existence of truths or forces that transcend culture and society. At that stage the mind-level differences lose their individual identity to merge in the stage of Collective Consciousness. It is the state of bliss. To sum up “Yellow Women” briefly--“The woman narrator goes for a walk by the river where she meets a mysterious man, Silva, who seduces her. He tells her that he is a ka'tsina (kachina) spirit and calls her "Yellow Woman," invoking a character in stories that the narrator had heard from her grandfather. Although she doubts that he is really a ka'tsina spirit, the narrator feels compelled to go up the mountain with Silva and makes love with him repeatedly. Silva is involved in cattle rustling and possibly murder. Though eventually she leaves him and returns to her village, she is sad to be without him and hopes that he will again seek her out by the river.”(Fajardo…)

Every spiritual principle must stand the test of practicability; in other words, that which is not practical, is not spiritual either. Both the stories deal with the issues of cultural and personal identities as reflected through the day to day disposition and maneuvers of people during small and big interactions. How it takes all kinds of people to make the world! Each individual tries to extract selfish gains wearing the mask of spirituality. They change colors like the chameleon. In institutions of faith like marriage, adultery creeps in; and desires outsmart duty. In pursuit of one’s ignoble goals, how mean one becomes, destroys the personality and cherished ideals of the other. Both the stories are the mirrors of the life of that era, and they are the sources of cultural, political, economic and anthropological lives of the people. In both stories the sensory and bodily perceptions are handled evenly, appropriate to the relevance of the story. But in reality such events do happen in the present era as well, though they are reported in a different style.


They say, theory is other man’s experience. Myths of the past have much relevance to the life of humankind of today. The details may be different, but the essentials are the same. To explain this with a philosophical analogy—howsoever big may be the waves of the ocean; their essential nature is mere water! Each character in both the above stories, tries to find a logical justification for the type of life one is living and for several related actions. One doesn’t seem to have regrets of any sort about them and never hesitates to take chances to fulfill one’s desires and ulterior motives.


Learn more:
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