Stories have over time being used to communicate important themes within the society. As a matter of fact, themes such as culture, love, war and change have been widely portrayed in stories. As a result, analysts have explored stories, drew comparisons and also used them as historical artifacts. The stories, “1944 the Year I Learned to Love a German” and “A Good Man is hard to find” are two contrasting stories presented in different environments. Nonetheless, both are from the mid-20th century and as such are expected to bear significance semblance to each other.
This paper compares the two stories in terms of thematic presentations, historical alignment, social context and the use of language by the authors. It is important to note that both use humour and culture in addition to multiple other social themes that give the texts interesting aspects. Other themes typical of both texts include satire and war. In both texts, cultural as well as social events are obvious. For instance, in the movie, “1944 the Year | Learned to Love a German”, Mordecai Richler was raised and always lived in a Jewish environment.
Similarly, the short story by Flannery O’Connor’s, ‘A Good Man Is Hard to find” presents a satiric family comedy before transitioning to brutal revelation with emphasis on a grandmother that leads her infuriated family on a wild-goose chase in rural Georgia. Historically, Mordecai Richler does a better job and succinctly reports in unease between Jews and Germans in post-Nazi periods. In “1944 the Year | Learned to Love a German”, there is no doubt an expectation that his love for Germans is at lowest.
This is well illustrated in his words, “Nineteen forty-four that was, and I devoutly wished every German left on the face of the earth an excruciating death” (Richler 156). These words not only reflect the entrenched hatred for past actions but also refer to the Jewish and German cultures. As a matter of fact, it makes reference to a period following the German Armies attempt to exterminate Jews and as such, explains the hatred. For example, Richler made it cleared how he hated German with passion.
In contrast, in “A Good Man Is Hard to find” a grandmother drives her son as well as his entire family to their death in the hands of a Misfit (O’Connor). Like the case of the Germans against Jews, she is presented as a self-absorbed character with fading memory. The story opens with the grandmother’s railing against his son, Bailey. Socially, the stories raise important ethical issues. In both stories, moral issues are raised. As a matter of fact, they present a line that is cause for contemplation of the meaning of good as well as the value of goodness when it’s merely momentary.
The road looked as if no one had travelled on it in months. It’s not much further, the grandmother said and just as she said it, a horrible thought came to her” (O’Connor 25). What this mean is that grandmother thoughts was bad about the road but didn’t want to say it out because of her wish. For instance, when the grandmother convinced children to go to east Tennessee. It further questions the ability of humans to master acts of selflessness and generosity, in addition to highlighting the ease with which humans quickly revert to flawed, limited selves and commit the same acts they accuse others of wrongly committing.
Further, the stories highlight how relapse in our old selves and patterns diminish the best of humans. O’Connor’s story helps in wrestling these issues though his creations of imperfect and perfect characters. The characters catch glimpses of being better but often experience a lacking in strength to take the initiative. The case is no different in “1944 the Year | Learned to Love a German” more especially in light of the realities of life presented by the book that Mordecai Richler reads offering great insights says “All Quiet on the Western Front”.
Although he reads the book out of boredom, it turns out quite helpful. This reflects how lack of initiatives blinds humans to opportunities. In “1944 the Year | Learned to Love a German”, the author projects a period when smoking was not yet considered a health hazard but rather a symbol of manhood. Nonetheless, it raises an issue, should a 13-year-old boy be using pipe? (Richler). Although it was socially right at the time, it no doubt presents a conflict between morals and culture. At the time though, smoking pipe was considered to be a symbol of manhood.
In reinforcing the role of culture, Germans had a complete culture of their own. “When Hitler came to power in 1933 he had burned all of Erich Maria Remaque’s books. Hitler had grasped that novels could be dangerous” (Richler 158). In fact, they were trying to change the entire world’s culture. In essence, the author emphasizes the role of culture in shaping human character and beliefs. The same is replicated with the grandmother’s recognition that culture plays a major role in shaping a person really is. You’ve got good blood! I know you wouldn’t shoot a lady! I know you come from nice people! ” (O’Connor 32). However, the Misfit’s action proves otherwise. As a matter of fact, it shows that one’s culture is not necessarily definitive of his personality.
In essence, just as affirmed in “1944 the Year I Learned to Love a German” by the author that says, “I never expected that a mere novel, a stranger’s tale, could be dangerous, creating such turbulence in my life, obliging me to question so many received ideas (Richler 157). Then, uses some examples how he remembers the novel didn’t seem to be written, and instead move along. In sum, the two novels reveal what stories presents to readers. As a matter of fact, stories emerge as a powerful communication tool in addition to depicting how cultures and individuals view certain situations and should desist from making premature judgments. Many people ways of viewing situations are different, and both authors explained and expressed how they viewed situations differently makes the story serious.