Blog Post Two: In the Pitts of It—Critical Response to A View of the Woods” by Flannery O’Connor

“Let us be grateful to the mirror for revealing to us our appearance only.” – Samuel Butler

 

Pitts and Fortune serve as foils in this story, constantly at war with each other for the role of the ruling patriarch of the family. Caught between them in this war is Mary, who is Pitt’s daughter but resembles her grandfather in both countenance and spirit.

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Fortune makes her his only ally in the war against the Pitts. Both of them seek to control her but in different ways: Pitts takes an aggressive, authoritarian position over her, beating her in the woods and Fortune treats her as an adult and friend, always kind to her and deferring to her company over that of her family.

It is because of her precarious position that she is made a pawn in this game. To get back at his son-in-law, Fortune draws Mary closer to him as he created a greater divide between him and the family. He does this by making Mary his heir and giving the Pitts no say in the land whatsoever. The final blow in this was buy selling the land to someone who would develop it into business, but when he physically cut the woods off from the property (symbolically cutting them off) he cut off Mary as well making her go “PURE Pitts”. Pitts beats Mary as a symbolic way of beating Fortune. Fortune senses this and angrily tells her she should have fought back, ignore the fact that she is 9 year girl.

Throughout the entire story, in fact, Fortune does not treat Mary like a little girl. He makes a point of treating her as an extension of himself, regarding her actions and reacting to her words as if she were his equal. In the end, Mary is not his equal, but rather a mirror in which he can see the qualities himself he would rather not see. When she declares she is “Pure Pitts”, she becomes and “it” to him, and he kills her to kill what he does not wish to see: his connection to Pitts, and how Pitts will one day be strong enough to take his land and authority from him.

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