For your first Individual Project, you will be analyzing two short stories, “Love in L.A.” and “A Good Man is Hard to Find,” in terms of their similarities and differences.
Please write a comparison/contrast essay of 1000 words or more discussing the questions below. Remember to begin your paper with an engaging introduction and clear thesis statement, develop each point in the body of your paper using examples and quotes from the stories, and conclude your paper with a restatement of your thesis and closing remarks. Also, be sure to maintain your credibility by including in-text citations and a reference list correctly formatted in APA style.
Setting: In many ways the two short stories are set in radically different times and places. There is, however, at least one commonality that both settings share. Discuss the differences and at least similarity.
“Love in L.A.:” Describe Jake, the main character. What kind of man is he? Is he the story’s protagonist or antagonist? Explain your answer. Describe Mariana. How does she perceive her interactions with Jake? In what ways are his intentions different from hers?
“A Good Man is Hard to Find:” Discuss the personalities and motives (i.e., what does each seem to want?) of the following characters: the grandmother, Bailey, the children’s mother, the children, Red Sammy Butts, The Misfit, and the other two escaped criminals.
“Love in L.A.:” Both the car and freeway are symbolic in this story. What is the deeper meaning of each?
“A Good Man is Hard to Find:” What do each of these symbolize: the grandmother’s hat, the town of Toomsboro (hint: “Toom” sounds strikingly similar to another word) and The Misfit’s car?
Themes: What are the main themes/messages of each piece? What, in other words, do you think the authors, Dagoberto Gilb and Flannery O’Connor, are trying to communicate about life and human nature in their respective stories?
Tone: What does Gilb’s tone seem to reveal about his attitude toward the characters and plot in “Love in L.A.?” Likewise, what does O’Connor’s tone seem to tell us about her attitude toward the characters and plot in “A Good Man is Hard to Find?”
Irony: In what ways do the titles of both stories contain irony?
Moral Codes: (A moral code is an individual’s internal set of beliefs and principles that guides their conduct toward others. Everyone has a moral code, although not everyone’s behavior is necessarily “moral” or law-abiding.)
“Love in L.A.:” What is Jakes’ moral code? Elaborate on your answer, using at least two examples from the story to support your opinion.
“A Good Man is Hard to Find:” By what moral codes do the grandmother and The Misfit live by? What external influences (upbringing, faith, experiences, etc.) have shaped their codes? Discuss the “goodness” (or lack thereof) of both characters. Do they or anyone else in the story qualify as a “good man?” Why or why not?
Final Thoughts: Literature intersects with many areas of our lives, often providing commentary on cultural norms, and—in the case of the O’Connor story—the influence of religion on individuals and societies. In what ways has reading “Love in L.A.” and “A Good Man is Hard to Find” impacted your own views on love, “goodness” and religious faith?
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