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Comparison between the stories ‘Love in L.A.’ and ‘A good man is hard to find’

The setting of the story ‘Love in L.A.’ is on a free way to Los Angeles. Jake is a lazy, self absorbed, irresponsible protagonist driving along the freeway. He begins to daydream about a better car leading him to hit a car in front. The driver of the other car is an innocent, naive young girl, Mariana (Daroberto, 1993). On the other hand, the story ‘A Good Man is Hard to Find’ is set up in a rural landscape. Although the author does not give the exact locations of the towns, the story seems to take place in mid-sized towns. It takes place through a number of states as a family takes a vocational trip (Boston , 2012).

Characters

Jake, the main character in the story ‘Love in L.A.’ portrays love from the protagonist perspective. He expresses love in different fashions, but none results in anything positive. From the story, he is being portrayed as being irresponsible, lazy, poor, and a scam artist who is looking for a way to free his soul. His character is a true identity that portrayed throughout the story as being daydreaming, love for image, and self conceit. Mariana, on the other hand, is a naive young girl and new in Los Angeles (Daroberto, 1993).

The story “A Good Man is hard to Find” revolves around the grandmother. She is the main character of the story, and being self-centered and having vanity attitude, she convinces her son Bailey and his family to go for a vacation in Tennessee rather than Florida. She uses the news of the escaped murderer story, the misfit, to scare Bailey so he changes his mind. By lack of respect, Bailey does not answer her mother, which makes her divert the attention to her daughter in-law. Ironically, the grandmother takes time to put on in a hat and a dress so that if found death on the highway, everyone would recognize her as a lady. Thinking that the old house was in Georgia rather than Tennessee, the grandmother forces the family to detour which leads them to their deaths (Boston , 2012). The misfit in this story represents the pathological killer who murders the entire family. The story depicts the destruction of an entire family by the three escaped convicts. The climax of the story involves the offer of grace and the gift of acceptance by the grandmother.

Themes

The themes of the story’ Love in L.A’ are deception, lies, and fantasy. Almost everything that Jake says is a lie, but Mariana seems to believe it. Flannery O’Connor depicts in his story the themes of grace and elusive definition of what a ‘good man’ is. For instance, the grandmother’s wanton description of the ‘good man’ does not mean a ‘moral’ or ‘kind’ person. Other themes like the portrayal of redemption or salvation through faith, breakdown in moral values, and the concept of wrongdoing of disbelief breeds are also being discussed in the story.

Symbolism

The freeway is a symbol in this story. The freeway is what makes Jake feel the freedom of the open road and hence makes him to daydream, causing the accident. The grandmother’s hat, which she puts on for the sole purpose of her identification as a lady, is used to represent her imprudent moral code. While dressing, she dresses up in preparation of a car accident so that anyone that would see her dead body would easily recognize that she was a lady. This depicts her selfishness and moral conviction. The town ‘Toomsboro’ which in reality is an actual small town near Milledgeville, has been used symbolically to act as a fore-shadow of the family’s fate, as during this place, the grandmother narrates the events that eventually lead to the death of the family.
Tone

The authors tone reveals that he himself might be the main character, Jake. The author Gilb’s may be a good guy that once strived for the persona of the ‘bad guy’. This makes him have the chance to portray the self in that perspective. On the other hand, O’connor’s tone in the story falls on depicting the character’s thinking, mostly sympathetically. The narrator also tends to have an omniscient pattern in the story, as he seems to report the story from a distance. Hence, the tone is considered to be direct, piercing, and expectant.

Irony

The irony in this title is the fact that Jake is trying to find love in L.A. As an outsider of the town, Los Angeles can be viewed as a shallow and fake place where true love is hard to find. It is also ironical that the setting is on a freeway and the chances of meeting a true love are very small.

From the story ‘A Good Man is Hard to Find’, the grandmother uses ‘good’ indiscriminately, blurring the definition of a ‘good man’. Thus, the title in this story is used ironically. The grandmother’s label of the good man when they met the misfits reveal that ‘good’ does not imply kind or moral (Boston , 2012).

Moral Codes

In my view, Jake has no moral code. He is willing to do whatever it takes to get away with the situation he has caused. For instance, he gives Mariana fake phone number, insurance information, and address so as to walk away from the destruction without any consequences (Daroberto, 1993). On the other story, even though the grandmother is portrayed to be a victim of dangerous situations, rudeness, and hostile statements, she stood by her morals regardless of the situation. From the onset of the story, the grandmother is the victim of her grandchildren as depicted by the hostile comments towards her, but in the end she is a victim of the murderer who is nicer to her than her grandchildren. The author tries to bring out the uncompromising perceptions of the spiritual disorder and violence in the world.

Opinions

According to ‘A Good Man is Hard to Find’, the misfit and the grandmother are both recipients of grace, regardless of their many sins, flaws, and weaknesses (Boston , 2012). For instance, the grandmother seems to be certain of her moral responsibility, and believes she is the right person to judge the goodness of others. The misfit, who is an unrepentant murderer, are undeserving recipients of grace, but from Christian believes, human beings are granted salvation through God’s favor, or grace. In other words, God has the power to give even bad people a chance to go to heaven, by granting them grace. While in the story ‘Love in L.A’, Jake’s portrayal of love from Christian perspective is considered unworthy (Daroberto, 1993). Christian values teaches us to love our enemies first and put the interests of others first. Jake after noticing that there was no ‘impressionable’ scratch on his car, he ‘perks up’. While also talking to Mariana, ‘he straightens out unhip clothes’. This shows conceit and lack of respect for other people. Thus, the two stories are used to provide teachings to the people in the society.