Term Paper: Crime and Punishment

Pages: 6 (2218 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 1+  ·  Level: College Junior  ·  Topic: Family and Marriage  ·  Buy This Paper

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[. . .] Once the grandmother has convinced her son Bailey to give in to her desire to visit a house, which turned out to be in Georgia and not in Tennessee, the family experiences the first in a series of violent moments. The car turns over and the accident has left their automobile unable to go further. The children, seeing their first moment of violence are delighted and are only sad that no one has died in the collision. Since the kids have never experienced real loss or real pain before, the experience is one of novelty to them. When aid arrives, it is ironically in the form of The Misfit.

The children's enthusiasm and curiosity about why their Samaritan carries a gun is nothing. It is the grandmother, who is nearly obsessed with violence and crime, which dooms the family. Her demand to visit this home caused the family to be on this room and then her recognition of the criminal is what led to the death of her family. She is, in a substantial way, criminally negligent. The final moments of the story are jarring, even more than half a century after they were written. While the family is taken into the woods and murdered one by one, grandmother sits begging The Misfit for her life by trying to appeal to his humanity. She asks him to pray and assures him that she believes that he is a good man at heart. Further, in order to save her own skin, the grandmother attempts to embrace the murderer and appeals to him as a mother, calling him one of her own babies (Bandy 1). Not only is she responsible for the deaths of her family members, but she would recast their killer in an affectionate and familial light in order to convince him not to kill her too. In this, she not only shows herself to be calculating and cruel, but also the worst kind of hypocrite. Any affection that the reader may have had for the grandmother by relating her artificially to their own elderly relatives is designed to be eradicated by this simpering.

This ploy of her does not work and she is summarily murdered as well. "The Misfit sprang back as if a snake had bit him and shot her three times through the chest. Then he put his gun down on the ground and took off his glasses and began to clean them" (O'Connor). It is one thing when you are sitting at a restaurant discussing what a person might do when faced with a murderer. It is quite another when the reality comes to you directly which is the point of the story. To those unacquainted with violence first hand, one can only speculate. To those very familiar with acts like this, shooting a family is no more tasking that cleaning off smudges from the glasses. This is the end of the story and it is unclear whether the Misfit will be rearrested and so O'Connor makes an implicit statement that his actions are not the real crime of the story. It is the grandmother's actions which are punished, indicating to all that she is the real villain of the piece.

In all three stories, a crime takes place. There is an arrest for drug use, an assault, and of course a multiple homicide. In each case, there is an obvious crime which has been committed. However, in each there are also secondary crimes which are not as immediately perceptible. Some of these secondary crimes go punished and some do not. The message then is not that all crimes are punished, but that all persons, not matter how pious, no matter how educated, no matter how solitary can become the victim or perpetrator of a crime.

Works Cited:

Andrews, William L., Frances Smith. Foster, and Trudier Harris. The Concise Oxford

Companion to African-American Literature. New York: Oxford UP, 2001. Print.

Baldwin, James. "Sonny's Blues." 1957. Print.

Bandy, Stephen C. "One of my Babies: The Misfit and the Grandmother." 2011. Print.

McPherson, James Alan. "The Story of a Scar." 1989. Print.

O'Connor, Flannery. "A Good Man is Hard to Find." A Good Man is Hard to Find. 1953. Print.

Reilly, John M. "Sonny's Blues: James Baldwin's Image of Black Community." Negro

American Literature… [END OF PREVIEW]

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"Crime and Punishment."  Essaytown.com.  May 5, 2012.  Accessed March 23, 2019.
https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/crime-punishment/4000749.