DEATH BY MISFORTUNE?
Is it a tragic story of a character that led to his own demise and the demise of a loved one or is it a story of purposeful murder? The short story A View of the Woods by Flannery O’Connor is grotesque and complex in nature leaving the audience in a bizarre state with a sullen feeling. A question I want to try to answer as a reader is whether the events that take place in the story, particularly the deaths were they caused in part by arrogance, defiance, allegiance, or possibly all three.
Of all three factors that led to the death of Mary Fortune and her grandfather Mark Fortune, arrogance is definitely number one. Mark Fortune is represented as a boastful character who feels satisfaction and pleasure in making Mary’s father feel lowly and insignificant. Mr. Fortune is blinded by the idea that he can create his legacy through his land not through his children. For “he was a man of advanced vision, even if he was seventy-nine years old.” By selling lots of his property in order to create useful infrastructures, he tries to create his significance and his place in the world. He thought the eventual town should be called “Fortune, Georgia” (pg. 338). And even though he greatly loved Mary Fortune, his arrogance and sense of pride over his accomplishments was much greater. In essence, arrogance diminishes and blinds his wisdom and judgment. He was unable to understand the point Mary was trying to make as he was too busy with his own grand scheme of all things.
Just as Mark Fortune is arrogant and stubborn, Mary Fortune is defiant. She has the nerve to fight back, but only with her grandfather. She acts a rebel when she finds out that Mr. Fortune plans to sell the area in front of the house “the lawn.” To Mary this is a problem because she will not be able to see the woods and that is the area in which her father “grazes his calves” (pg. 342). Mary’s constant disobedient did in part result in her death as her grandfather had begun to feel disgusted in the person she was becoming. He saw her defiance as her progression towards becoming a Pitts.
Additionally, Mr. Fortune interpreted Mary’s defiance as allegiance to her father. He could not fathom the fact the she cared about her father having a place to graze his calves when all her father did was blame her for things she never did and then he gave her an undeserved punishment. A punishment that would be served with a whip. However, Mr. Fortune disregarded the fact that no matter how much he disliked his son-in-law, he would always be Mary’s father. Consequently, no matter how much Mr. Fortune tried to make or see Mary as just a Fortune she would always be “Mary Fortune-Pitts” (pg. 351). She will always in a liminal space not because she chose that space, but because that was the place in which her family placed. Her father saw her allegiance with her grandfather and her grandfather saw her allegiance with her father.
To conclude, I do believe that all three factors (arrogance, defiance, and allegiance) among with many other concerns led to the death of Mr. Fortune and Mary Fortune-Pitts. It truly is a tragic in story in which greed and pride got the best of Mr. Fortune and caused his demise as well as Mary’s.