O’Connor’s “A Good Man Is Hard to Find” vs. Woolf’s “The New Dress”

In fiction writing, authors must be creative and employ different styles and features to make their works appealing. Writers should always make fictional stories as if they are real, hence making the reader develop a clear flow and transition of the different occurrences in a literary work. Analyzing various creative stories makes the audience comprehend that writers often use similar invented styles despite presenting them in different situations. Therefore, the short stories “A Good Man is Hard to Find” and “The New Dress” by Flannery O’Connor and Virginia Woolf respectively create the devised elements of character, setting, irony, and symbolism.

In both short stories, the fictional element of character is evident. In O’Connor’s short story, she uses characters as the Grandmother, Bailey, June Star, and John Wesley. The work presents a narration of real-life experiences, whereby the reader can easily relate the ordeal to the different occurrences in contemporary society. When reading the text, the audience comprehends that June Star is Bailey’s wife (O’Connor 837). Notably, the short story creates a narrative around an extended family. Comparably, Woolf uses human characters, including Mabel Waring and Clarissa Dalloway, among many others. For example, Mabel represents the people who have less confidence and self-esteem when she doubts herself in the yellow dress (Woolf 15). Thus, both literary pieces develop their stories around persons as characters.

O’Connor and Woolf’s short stories have distinct settings in terms of the external environment. Woolf’s piece is set at Clarissa Dalloway’s residence, whereby the narrator mentions that, before Mabel leaves, she approaches Mrs. Galloway, the hostess, and lures that she enjoyed the party (65). As a result, the audience comprehends that the literary work is occasioned in Galloway’s house. Contrary, O’Connor’s short story is set on the rural roads of the South, between Atlanta and Florida, whereby the narrator mentions that Bailey’s family lives in Atlanta, and they were traveling for adventure to Florida (O’Connor 838). The reader interprets that the book’s setting is in the countryside roads. Connectedly, O’Connor and Woolf’s short stories are set in Dalloway’s home and the rural roads between Atlanta and Florida, respectively.

The irony is another element evident in these two short stories. The literary, irony is the state of affairs that seems contrary to one’s expectations. In O’Connor’s book, the irony is evident between the Misfit and the Grandmother. Previously, she seems to uphold the Christian values but unexpectedly becomes dishonest, telling the murderer that he is a good man (O’Connor 841). Contrary, in Woolf’s texts, it is ironic that Mabel chose the color and how the yellow dress should be made, but consequently hates it. She imagines that other people at the party will say, “What a fright she looks! What a hideous new dress” (Woolf 64). The audience expected to see Mabel love her dress, but she instead dislikes it. Therefore, the element of irony is present in both short stories.

The element of symbolism is implemented in these literary works as well. In O’Connor’s book, the Grandmother’s hat represents a misguided moral code. When she prepares for the road trip, she wears the hat saying that “I want to look like a lady” (O’Connor 846). When the Grandmother faces the Misfit, her hat falls off, exemplifying the dissolvement of the lady’s conception. Moreover, the yellow dress symbolizes poverty in Woolf’s short story. Mabel mentions that the new dress is old-fashioned and made of different materials (Woolf 20). As a result, the audience automatically comprehends that she comes from a poor background. The reader expects individuals from underprivileged families to face financial challenges. Holistically, the symbolism element is presented in both short stories.

In conclusion, it is paramount to note that different authors develop their stories using similar elements. “The New Dress” and “A Good Man is Hard to Find” by Virginia Woolf and Flannery O’Connor present the fictional aspects of irony, character, setting, and symbolism. However, the writers use styles that differ from one another. Above all, stylistic elements help the authors develop a clear picture in the reader’s mind, hence obtaining the specific genre’s intended meaning.

Works Cited

O’Connor, Flannery. “A Good Man is Hard to Find.” In A Good Man is Hard to Find and Other Stories: An Anthology, Faber & Faber, 2016, pp. 837−849.

Woolf, Virginia. “The New Dress.” Booklassic, 2015.