Comparison of conflict development between Flannery O’Connor’s “A Good Man is Hard to find” and Tim O’Brien’s “The Things They Carried



The works of Tim O’Brien in “The things they carried” and Flannery O’Connor in “A good man is hard to find” forms an important basis in the analysis of conflict development. Both authors engage in the utilization of different approaches in their presentation of conflict in different aspects and levels. Thus, conflict as the main theme in the texts is presented differently with different motives and outcome to the audience. The author’s texts are critical in the exploration of conflict development and various perceptions. Therefore the essay will discuss the different approaches that the authors employed in their text in discussion of conflict development. Additionally, the essay with the evidence from the texts explores the variation in conflict development with the perception of the readers.

Comparison of conflict development between Flannery O’Connor’s “A Good Man is Hard to find” and Tim O’Brien’s “The Things They Carried

Flannery O’Connor’s in his work entitled “A Good Man is Hard to find,” presents an issue of great concern about a woman-grandmother and a person whom he believes to have been subjected to the deep tensions as well as tough conflicts faced in the mid-twentieth century in American South. O’Connor uses the title of his short story to indicate how violence is used to achieve to achieve specific consequences or effects. Based on real representations of the violence, it is relevant to mention that the manner in which characters behave or act clearly and effectively provide a detailed view of the story more than it could be narrated by the writer. Considering the voice of the author and fictional character, it seems that the voice of the latter is more effective than the former. The ideal example can be associated to the misfit that occurred between the leader of the criminal gang and pseud-prophet in the story. A clear misfit existed to believe that truly a good man is hard to find as reflected in the situation of a hardened criminal and perceptive character in the story. The false teachings about Jesus particularly to enjoy the time left with to live the best way a person can and the misfit to mean killing other people, burning down their houses and all sorts of meanness to others (O’Connor, 152). As a reader, therefore, it becomes easy to accept the terrible assertions and the associated justifications for murder.

In his book entitled “The Things they carried,” Tim O’Brien who is a veteran of the Vietnam War presents his writing as work of fiction with various perceptions. Basically, his writing style is relatively personal because he begins his work by explaining the details of violence, emotion and the setting without being ironical. The author symbolically uses the words to carry something to mean hump it, which clearly indicated how Lieutenant Jimmy Cross also managed to hump his love for a girl called Martha. It seems the process of was not easy because O’Brien indicates that he humped the love for her up the hills and through the swamps. Literally, the author used the term to hump to emphasize on how the situation was as it involved walking long distances as well as the burdens that were far beyond the understanding (O’Brien, 3).       Although O’Brien provides bare descriptions of events in his story, it can be noted that the facts are clearly understood. For instance, Bowker explains the details of the taste of the offensive act how he heard the sound of his own heartbeat as he tried to submerge himself to escape from the shrapnel. The author aimed to affirm that the experience was really sad as we can see Bowker claims that it cannot be erased from his mind and it is not easy to adequately describe the whole event to anyone was not present at the scene. Bowker also recalled that there were two rounds that hit close by, later another round hit closer and he decided to take off but he heard a person whom he knew- Kiowa screaming (O’Brien, 128). This implies that O’Brien in his writing was keen in capturing the everyday horror events of the occurring deadly violence in such a language and style that could not skip anything happening around.

Generally, it is apparent that in both O’Connor and O’Brien short stories the voice of the fictional character is more effective than the authors. The facts in both stories are clearly understood based on the actions of the characters in the two stories. Although O’Brien and O’Connor provide bare descriptions of terrible events in their stories, as a reader it is possible feel the emotions of the characters’ explanations of the violent acts and they present themselves in the violation. Therefore, in both stories indirect characterization is used, where the authors allowed some characters to present on their own and say, act and raise his or her voice in the stories. The good example was the misfit about Jesus’ teachings and Bowker explaining the details of the taste of the offensive act as well as how he heard the sound of his own heartbeat as he tried to submerge himself to escape from the shrapnel.

It is also clear that both Flannery O’Connor and Tim O’Brien used their languages to make the invisible visible in which certain words have been used as author’s medium to show that art captures or presents the world in action, particularly of terrible occurrences as already noted there was killings in the two stories. Similarly, the two authors integrated tone and contents in their writings to show the seriousness of violent acts people involve in harming others. It can be noted that tone of the two stories conveys the message of how O’Brien and Connor as writers condemn the terrible behaviors as well as other characters like Bowker and grandmother feel painful about the violent acts happening in their own eyes.


Both authors are critical in highlighting conflict development in their different ways and approaches. Thus through their varied texts the theme of conflict and various perception is clearly set out for the audience. The authors incorporated the use of violent acts among people in order to demonstrate the various attitudes to conflict development.

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  1. Howell, Steven Thomas. The Consequences of Violence. 2000.
  2. O’Brien, Tim. The Things They Carried. Houghton-Mifflin, 1990.
  3. O’Connor, Flannery. A Good Man is Hard to Find, The Complete Stories. Noonday Press, 42nd Edition, 1997.
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