The Misconception of the Sincere or Genuine Person In Charles Taylor’s theoretical text, The Ethics of Authenticity, Taylor composes to evaluate the principles of individualism. He believes that we can, and should, become mindful about what makes us who we are to effectively and best regards select which values or qualities to support.
Using two narratives, “An Excellent Male is Hard to Find” by Flannery O’Connor and “Gimpel the Fool” by Isaac Bashevis Singer, alongside Taylor’s text and the application of his concepts, one can take a look at if the main characters operate as true individuals who act for themselves, or act to satisfy a historically desirable specific niche in human nature.
Flannery O’Connor’s 1953 short story “A Good Man is Tough to Find,” shows the story of a couple, together with the granny and two children, who start a family road trip from Tennessee to Florida.
Plot and character both unravel with the course of the family’s travel, exposing the stereotypical qualities of a standard American family– frustrating peculiarities and behaviors, rear seats arguments in between siblings; and the elderly, nitpicky, and proper grandma. Following the majority of the journey from Tennessee to Florida, the story ends with a last encounter with an escaped convicted murderer, The Misfit.
The most prominent and possibly easily inspected character from “A Good Man is Difficult to Find” is the granny. Being the central lead character in O’Connor’s short story, she unfolds to be manipulative and self-involved, yet a prim and proper elderly woman. Throughout the text, the grandma is continuously caught up in comparing her sleek southern past to her disappointments of today. She is knotted in her roots, looking like a harmless chatterbox, aloof and entertaining within her own development.
It is simple to forgive her for a lot, including her natural racism– pointing at a “cute little pickaninny” from the vehicle window along with entertaining the kids with a tale of “a nigger boy” (187) who scoffs a watermelon– and her excessively sound viewpoints that she states matter-of-factly. Upon departure for Florida, she gowns herself in her Sunday’s finest: dress, hat, and white cotton gloves all for the trip, so “in case of an accident, anybody seeing her dead on the highway would know simultaneously that she was a lady” (186 ). She is filled with the bias and traditions of her class and time.
The grandmother, even when confronted with the foreshadowed fight with The Misfit, continues to provide her historic and deeply rooted “lady-like” facade. Her talk with the Misfit starts as a manipulative effort to conserve her own life, using her refined methods to persuade her killer. (Certainly, in her world, no good guy would “shoot a lady” (O’Connor 194).) Her desperate efforts continue, trying further to charm The Misfit. “I know you’re a great man. You do not look a bit like you have typical blood. I understand you should come from great people! (O’Connor 192). The grandmother appears confident enough that her southern attraction will win over the man as she has with all others; there is no resignation to the death she will soon deal with. Following the execution of the whole household, it appears to both the reader and the granny herself that death is imminent. Upon this realization, the woman experiences a revelation and obtains the very first unselfish sensibility showed in the story. She finally disregards her concept of correct southern values in the face of death and connects to The Misfit.
In an act of real genuineness, she simultaneously denounced her high moral standing and declared approval of his character. In this state of disclosure “she murmured ‘Why you are among my children. You’re one of my own kids! ‘” The woman “connected and touched him on the shoulder. The Misfit bounced back as if a snake had actually bitten him and shot her three times through the chest” (O’Connor 195). The Misfit ends the effective story by discussing the grandmother’s unauthentic character: “She would have been a great female … if it had been somebody there to shoot her every minute of her life” (O’Connor 195)
The assessment of uniqueness of Flannery O’Connor’s character according to Charles Taylor’s text results with a misleading result. In The Ethics of Authenticity, Taylor states, “we live in a world where people have a right to choose on their own their own pattern of life … to identify the shape of their lives in a whole host of ways that their ancestors could not control” (Taylor 2). The character of the grandmother is established along an irreversible historical direct course of ancestral beliefs and suitables; she was never offered a chance to be self-aware and take shape of her own life.
In Taylor’s terms, the female has always been locked into her “great chain of Being,” adhering to her born role of a southern bourgeois woman that gives sense and indicating to life (Taylor 3). Never questioning her “natural” worths and qualities, the granny conformed to the suitables of, but not restricted to, race, class, faith, and society, that are inherit to her upper class. Up until this point, it is possible to say that the grandma is an unauthentic person. When faced with the severe situation involving death and her supreme existence, the grandma quickly diverges from the consistent track of her character development.
This divergence from the typical character in the face of death enabled the grandma to have a genuine experience in her last seconds with her killer. “… The grandmother’s head cleared for an instant. She saw the guy’s face twisted near her own … ‘Why you are among my children. You’re one of my own kids! ‘” she admitted (O’Connor 195). This minute of real approval, level of sensitivity, and recognition to others of various moral horizons reveals a quick minute of genuine individualism in the granny.
In comparison to her total personality for the entire plot, a peek of wholehearted moral relativism, or, according to Taylor, a shared regard to morals and worths apart from your own, can be checked out in the last couple of lines of the granny’s existence. In the fleeting minutes of her life, she shed her “natural” identity, claiming true freedom from her acquired ethical horizon. It is possible to state that in the last seconds of her life there was a transformative sense of character, the grandmother passed with the qualities of a real person.
Comparable to O’Connor’s character, the character of Gimpel from Isaac Bashevis Singer’s 1953 short story “Gimpel the Fool” can be similarly examined for characteristics and characteristics of a genuine individual. The paradoxical story tells the life account of Gimpel: narrator, Yiddish baker, a resident of Eastern Europe, and the one who gets the ultimate victory (although that comes later on). Gimpel, seemingly naive and gullible, is the topic of numerous techniques and insults from his town for taking whatever at face value, however was he actually a fool, or a genuine person? I am Gimpel the fool.” is how he opens his story (Vocalist 300). He provides his own reason when he states, “What did my absurdity include? I was simple to take in” (Singer 301). His promiscuous spouse is disloyal to their marriage throughout his life time, resulting in invalid kids that Gimpel wished to think he fathered; his neighbors take unfair benefit of him, subjecting him to limitless tricks and fallacies for cruel entertainment; and even the town rabbi conspires against Gimpel, placing him at the getting end of everybody’s jokes.
Gimpel is eventually surrounded by lies and cynicism to his method to life. The “silly” qualities that are expressed through Gimpel on the exterior are not all that fulfills the eye. Knowledgeable about his surroundings and how his next-door neighbors treat him, Gimpel picks to keep an open mind, to see the great in the world, and not waste his time with the bad spirits of those who make fun with him. Although constantly tricked by his contemporaries, Gimpel is always willing to provide the benefit of the doubt. If he “ever dared to state, ‘Ah, you’re joking! there was difficulty. Individuals snapped” (301 ). He says, “to inform the fact, I knew very well that nothing of the sort had occurred, however all the same, as folks were talking … Maybe something had taken place. What did I stand to lose by looking?” (301 ). His open method and approval of a possible reality to unlimited incorrect claims and jokes reveal Gimpel to be not gullible and basic, however holds a prominent ethical relativism; he is accepting and sincere to other’s qualities and worths, however deceiving they may be.
Ironically, it is the entire village that victimizes Gimpel that are the fools, and Gimpel who is the only non-fool. Gimpel didn’t believe majority the things individuals told him, yet he still supported the deceits. Gimpel exhibits a character that lacks an understanding of unnecessary anger, hatred, and bad tempers, and acts with a perceptive sense that belief is not a matter of evidence but of will. From this viewpoint, Gimpel does not appear to be so simple and absurd, on the contrary, rather male that fears missing out on an opportunity of thinking something that may be true. Those who abuse Gimpel are the true fools them self, doing not have the capacity to think with Gimpel that everything is possible. This does not make him a fool since he thought individuals, he knew for himself that none of the important things said were anywhere near the fact. He thought since he wanted to think. In conjunction with Charles Taylor, Gimpel preserves an increased sense of awareness of his past to notify his present.
The constant ridicule has shaped his view on life and regardless of the unfavorable actions directed towards him, Gimpel is accepting to believe what others show him. Its possible to say that he is still associated with a “fantastic chain of Being,” however in context to the setting of the story these approaches can not completely use. As a devout Jewish man, Gimpel lives his life with authentic and genuine individualism, while appreciating the historical beliefs his society is based upon that have not yet been shattered.
In conclusion, the assessment of individuals with Charles Taylor’s text, whether imaginary or physical, can result in a broad variety of assumptions based upon the moral and historical background of a character. As seen with Flannery O’Connor’s character, the grandmother did not appear to be a genuine individual up until the final moments of her life; nevertheless, the character of Gimpel preserved a strong independent method to his life throughout most of the text. The characters, as Taylor wrote, “… are called upon to be true to themselves and to seek their own self-fulfillment.
What this consists of, each must, in the last instance, identify for him- or herself” (14 ). Without the author’s literary devices and plot structure to develop character, or an individual’s outright sense of being, the underlying person can not be accessed to live completely for his or herself. Works Mentioned O’Connor, Flannery. “An Excellent Guy is Hard to Find.” Literature: Reading Fiction, Poetry, and Drama. Ed. Robert DiYanni. Compact Edition. New York City: Mc- Graw-Hill, 2000. 185-95. Print. Vocalist, Isaac Bashevis. “Gimpel the Fool.” Literature: Reading Fiction, Poetry, and Drama.
Ed. Robert DiYanni. Compact Edition. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2000. 300-09. Print. Taylor, Charles. “Unavoidable Horizons.” The Principles of Authenticity. Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press, 2002. 31-41. Print.–, “The Inarticulate Argument.” The Ethics of Credibility. Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press, 2002. 13-23.–, “The Sources of Credibility.” The Ethics of Credibility. Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press, 2002. 25-9.–. “Three Despairs.” The Principles of Credibility. Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press, 2002. 1-12.