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“A Good Man is Hard to Find” by Flannery O’ Conner

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In the story “A Good Man is Hard to Find” by Flannery O’ Conner a hard lesson is learned through the character of a grandmother to a murdered family that pleads to the killer for her life. The grandmother is described by the killer at the end of the story here, “she would have been a good woman if it had been somebody there to shoot her every minute of her life” (338) By this the killer meant that it took a tragic event in order for her to understand herself. Throughout the story the grandmother saw herself as better than other people, and only at the end when facing death did she put herself to a lower level than someone. Another story in which the author uses a shocking or tragic event to impart a lesson or a truth is Nathaniel Hawthorne’s “The Birthmark”. In this story the main character, Aylmer, learns a great lesson. The result of this event changes his life forever. I think the lesson that Aylmer learned is one that should be learned and read about. I also believe that many people are selfish and egotistical and only realize this when they are directly and adversely affected by such an event.

The main character of The Birthmark that learns a lesson is Aylmer. Aylmer is a scientist that by methods of science tries to remove a birthmark from his wife’s face.

“… I have spent much thought upon the subject, I am convinced of the perfect practicability of its removal.” (308) In this quote it shows that Aylmer has already planned for the removal of the birthmark prior to Georgiana’s approval.

This also points out the fact that he is not doing it for his wife but rather for himself. I also think that Aylmer was trying to over come death and had the idea that if he created the perfect individual in life by removing this birthmark and overcoming death.

As Aylmer’s wife becomes obsessed with the removal of her birthmark, she would rather die than to live life with the birthmark on her face. “Aylmer, I know what may be the cost to both of us to rid me of this fatal birthmark…And Aylmer spare me not, though you should find the birthmark take refuge in my heart at last.” (309) In this quote his wife Georgiana agrees to this experiment and is killed in the process. I believe that Georgiana knew that her birthmark was meant to be with her for her life, and because her husband wanted to change this she knew that she might die. “…you have rejected the best the earth could offer. Aylmer dearest Aylmer, I am dying!”(316) Here Aylmer’s wife tells him of her coming death as a result of the experiment.

The fact that Georgiana tells Aylmer that she is the best the world implies that she believed she was perfect. I think that because Georgiana thought she was perfect made her not so perfect, also that she wanted to unnaturally change herself. Although Aylmer had good intentions he learned a lesson that he could not create a perfect individual. Aylmer proved to be egotistical, and tried to over come life itself with his scientific knowledge. The fact that Aylmer chose to experiment on his wife showed he had to incorporate his wife into his science in order for him to accept her. Aylmer’s life was now changed forever. Only now after the loss of his wife, did he realize what he had and what he had lost.

Hawthorne sums up the lesson learned by Aylmer at the end of the story. “The momentary circumstances was too strong for him [Aylmer]; he failed to look beyond the shadowy scope of time, and, living once for all eternity, to find the perfect future in the present” (316). By this I believe that Hawthorne means that Aylmer over looked that if he had lived his life with his wife instead of trying to make her into something that she was not, he would have been happy.

I believe the lesson learned in reading The Birthmark should be learned by others because it helped me to step back and realize how I might or someone I know might be making the same mistake. I enjoy reading stories with lessons to be learned it reminds of when I used to read fables. Most of these fables had lessons to be learned. I believe that this particular lesson is important to all individuals because I believe most people today are self-centered and are selfish. I feel this way about myself also. I just feel like I help no else but myself, and I see other people do the same. In reading The Birthmark I started to notice that I am egotistical and only think about what’s good for my interests. For instance my girlfriend’s car broke down and the repair bill was over a thousand dollars I know that when I receive my taxes back I could help her out, but I didn’t even offer. I had already planned to spend the money on myself as soon as I had received it.

After reading this story I felt as if I had experimented on my girlfriend and left her with out any solution to her problem. In a way I have done what Aylmer has done just not to his extreme. What I am trying to say is that as a human most people have this experience, yet when they read about it, it sounds awful. I believe that most people have done what Aylmer has done and will not even realize it until they are directly affected by a shocking or a tragic event. I think that because my girlfriend broke up with me it made me realize how self-centered I really was. Many other people will learn the same lesson that Aylmer and I have learned.

By the end story the main character, Aylmer, has learned a great lesson. His life is now changed forever. Throughout life you will meet many people that are selfish and egotistical and only realize this when they are directly and adversely affected by a tragic event. To be one of these people is to live life as Aylmer has and not appreciate things, to do anything to get what you want, and to have a self centered ambition that drives you through your poor excuse of a life.

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