St. Cyril of Jerusalem once professed, “The dragon is by the side of the road, watching those who pass. Beware lest he devour you, we go to the father of souls, but it is necessary to pass by the dragon.” Flannery O’Connor believed that pride, one of the seven cardinal sins of the Catholic faith, is the root of all sin.
In other words, O’Connor observed that vices are only committed as a result of one’s inflated sense of self-appeasement. In her view, pride reveals itself as the ultimate dragon, tempting its prey to the iniquities of sin. O’Connor’s stories often reflected her assumptions about human nature. In Flannery O’Connor’s short stories “A Good Man is Hard to Find,” “The Life You Save May Be Your Own,” and “The Displaced Person,” the author centralizes each story around the characters’ symbolic temptations of pride. In “A Good Man is Hard to Find”, O’Connor illustrates the grandmother’s frequent encounter with the sin of pride. The author alludes to the grandmother’s habitual abuse of humility several times throughout the course of the story.
To begin, O’Connor depicts the grandmother wearing her Sunday clothes for a road trip, “in case of an accident, anyone seeing her dead on the highway would know at once that she was a lady” (O’Connor 8). Toward the end of the story, the character exhibits some sense of humility while at gunpoint. It was her overbearing sense of pride, however, that led to her demise. The Misfit recalls after he kills her, that she might have been a good person if “it had been somebody there to shoot her every minute of her life” (O’Connor 12). Ultimately, the author intended to portray the grandmother as prideful. Likewise, pride is the symbolic dragon within Mr.
Shiflet in “The Life You Save May Be Your Own.” Mr. Shiflet, in order to obtain a car, agrees to marry Lucynell, the deaf “Angel of Gawd” (O’Connor 65). On their honeymoon, Shiflet drives off with the car and abandons Lucynell at a diner. The fact that Tom Shiflet cares only about his own desires, reveals his prideful nature. Essentially, he exhibits a rampant pre-occupation of self, which provides the foundation for his sin.
In a similar manner, Mrs. McIntyre in “The Displaced Person” battles with the enticement of pride. For one, the author’s implantation of Mrs. McIntyre’s incessant materialism gives the reader an idea of her prideful temperament.She basically worships material possessions, a trait that tends to be synonymous with pride.Additionally, her lack of humility and overwhelming sense of superiority demonstrate the cardinal sin of pride.
When she contemplates the secret that Mrs. Shortley unveiled to her, Mrs. McIntyre remarks of her low-paid personnel, “they’re all the same” (O’Connor 56). This sense of superiority over the workers perfectly embodies the deadly sins of pride and vanity. Overall, one can observe Mrs.
McIntyre’s disposition to the sin of pride through her materialism and superiority. In Flannery O’Connor’s stories “A Good Man is Hard to Find,” “The Life You Save May Be Your Own,” and “The Displaced Person,” each story revolves around the dragon of pride’s emblematic power over the various characters. In “A Good Man is Hard to Find”, the grandmother possesses a damaging inclination to pride, the source of her sin. Likewise, pride is the symbolic dragon within Mr. Shiflet in “The Life You Save May Be Your Own.” Finally, Mrs.
McIntyre’s disposition to the sin of pride subsists through her materialism and superiority. While O’Connor regards pride as the source of all sin, she makes note that one can resist such temptations through the abundant graces of Jesus Christ.