Critical Response to “A View of the Woods” by Flannery O’ Connor

Let’s start this blog post off by saying this is one of the strangest short stories I’ve ever read, but it caught my undivided attention.

This story is by a famous American writer by the name of Flannery O’ Connor. Her style of writing is Southern gothic and her characters often have bizarre relationships with each other. She also wrote A Good Man Is Hard to Find and The Violent Bear It Away. 

“A View of the Woods” begins explaining the relationship between Mr. Fortune and Mary Fortune. It was until he told her age that I noticed that Mary Fortune was his granddaughter. I felt the way that the relationship was explained signified that they would have an odd connection throughout the story. In the beginning, I thought that they had a romantic relationship. Mary shows strong resemblance to her grandfather, which I believe why is shows a strong connection to her. I found it mind boggling that Mr. Fortune became angry and envious of Pitts when Mary Fortune chooses Pitts over her grandfather.

“What did you leave me for? You ain’t never left me before.”

Grandfather says that to Mary regarding Pitts–her father. I found that weird because it seems as if he’s trying to compete with her father for her love when he is her grandfather.

Reading more of the story I found the perfect word the label Mr. Fortune — a narcissist. He’s so caught up in the “value” that his last name holds and his affection towards his granddaughter (the last generation with his last name) that he makes his love for her weird.

Mary, on the other hand, I couldn’t figure out a way to describe her. I felt as if she didn’t struggled with her identity throughout the story. When grandfather would ask her is she a Fortune, her reply would be “I’m a Fortune…Pitts”. The repetition of this scene in the story shows that she was uncertain who she really wanted to be. It was until the end of the story that she figured out that she was a “PURE Pitts” like her father. She had to see her grandfather for the gruesome, narcissistic man that he was to notice that she could not choose him over her.

The fact that these two characters struggle with their identity, it plays an important part in the story. These two are main characters and caused the greatest conflict. I believe that it was Mary’s grandfathers fault that she had a struggle with her identity. He put her in a position that no woman should ever endure. It is ironic that he loved her so much and ended up killing Mary by banging her head against the rock. I found the ending of the story to be very disturbing. Imagining an old man smashing his granddaughter’s head on a rock is a bit much. I never understood why Pitts beats on Mary nor did I understand the importance of clay towards the end of the story.

I like how O’connor ended the story the same way that her characters ended their relationship. The story ends with Mr. Fortune wandering through the woods desperately searching for help (shows he’s no longer the dominant character). He ends up killing himself by a heart attack he gets from killing his granddaughter.

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