A failure to hide one s accurate motives inside

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Short Story

In the short history The Lame Shall Enter into First, writer Flannery OConnor describes a widowers endeavors to hide his tremendous grief over his wifes death. In order to complete the emptiness in his cardiovascular system, the widower, Sheppard, punches himself in to miscellaneous non-profit endeavors. This individual shows this philanthropy especially in his remedying of a young delinquent named Rufus Johnson, who he consumes and cares for as his own boy. Through his treatment of Rufus, Sheppard as well tries to train his boy Norton-whom this individual judges while extremely selfish-about sharing. What Sheppard does not realize, nevertheless , is that he’s actually in the same way selfish when he judges his son to be-they are applying the same dealing mechanisms to try to deal with their particular loss. Subsequently, his kindness and kindness will not profit anyone, in fact , it will actually cause harm. OConnor uses devastating irony-manifested through parallel descriptions in the characters and various interactions between them-to convey the idea that artificial charity will accomplish nothing.

Um Connor uses parallel points of Sheppard and Norton in order to uncover the same character flaws in Sheppard that he scorns in his child. Throughout the tale, she details them in such similar ways that their particular shared attributes become clear. Nortons noticeable self-centeredness is revealed with the very beginning, when he gorges himself until he vomits (Walters 103). Sheppard then looks upon him with disdain, thinking, his own child, selfish, unresponsive, greedy, got so much [food] that he threw it up (OConnor 374). Although Sheppard is criticizing his boy for being selfish, he later realizes that he had filled his individual emptiness with good works like a glutton (403) together thus behaved no greater than his boy had in attempting to manage his wifes death. Though this distributed reaction to their loss can be their most obvious similarity, Sheppard and Norton also have various other parallel qualities. Sheppard criticizes Nortons deficiency of intelligence nearby the beginning of the tale when he laments, Norton was average or below together had every advantage (374). When Rufus (whose brains Sheppard revered, in kampfstark contrast to his individual sons shortage thereof) connects to the household, however , Sheppard detects that the dining tables have been turned and he’s now the main one being belittled for his stupidity. Rufus insults Sheppards intelligence a couple of times and in truth compares him unfavorably to Norton when he says, This individual [Sheppard] dont know his left hand via his proper, he possess as much feeling as his crazy child! (402). This individual later by speaking attacks Sheppard to his face if he tells him, You aint any better than that cop (396). Through these descriptions, OConnor paints similar pictures of father and son-making Sheppards criticisms appear even more ironic and his personality less credible.

In addition to juxtaposing the characters of Norton and Sheppard, OConnor further shows Sheppards faults and incongruencies through different interactions with Rufus. Coming from his initial meeting with the boy, it can be obvious that Sheppard seems to take pleasure in studying Rufuss motives and behavior, failing to comprehend how it mirrors his own. For example , Sheppard, naturally , seizes after the foot as the unquestionable method to obtain Rufuss delinquency, interpreting his criminal habit as simple compensation for his physical problem (Walters 103). What Sheppard does not right away see, nevertheless , is that he’s also trying to compensate for his own defect-his overly philanthropic gestures are an attempt at filling the hole in his heart still left by his wifes death. It is not right up until much later that he understands he have been stuffing his emptiness with good works (OConnor 403) in order to find happiness. Sheppard is additionally the object of Rufuss disparity between the Christlike image Sheppard tries to convey and his genuine selfish causes, and this individual openly accuses Sheppard of confusing himself with Christ (Walters 102). He first does this in back of his back during a chat with Norton, exclaiming, Goodness, kid, how do you stand it? He considers hes Jesus Christ! (383). Within a subsequent conversation, while explaining to Norton the concept of heaven, Rufus mocks Sheppard outright when he says, Ill tell you everything regarding it [heaven] tomorrow, child, when Him self has eliminated out (387). In fact he takes this kind of even further, afterwards calling Sheppard a laying stinking atheist (403)-a kampfstark contrast for the Christlike persona Sheppard tries to show. In the middle of Rufuss criticism, Sheppard valiantly attempts to maintain his graphic as a real humanitarian by simply saying, Easily can help a person, all I want is usually to do it. Internet marketing above and beyond straightforward pettiness (383). Rufus, however , does not believe that anything Sheppard says, as he tells Norton: Yaketty yaketty yakand [Sheppard] never says a thing. Gas. Gas (279). Through these kinds of and other informative, yet negative comments, Rufus reveals Sheppards selfish, hypocritical character.

As Rufus helps you to point out, Sheppard is so created in his grief-induced selfish goals that this individual completely seems to lose sight of his boy Nortons struggles and makes himself a faux, however , with Rufuss further assistance he is able to begin the process of self-discovery that eventually leads to his thought. Sheppard is arguing with Rufus if he begins to view the first glimpses of his true self-and he is clearly taken aback. He thinks, The boys eyes were just like distorting mirrors in which he saw him self made grotesque and grotesque (397) and a moral leper (398). His chaotic epiphany comes shortly after this moment of clarity. This individual realizes that he had performed more for [Rufus] Manley than he had done pertaining to his individual child (403) and that by doing this he had did not help Norton through his grief like a loving father would. This individual also realizes how independent he had been-even as he had lectured Norton about becoming selfless, he had ignored his own child to feed his eye-sight of himself (403). The hypocrisy in his actions is readily apparent-although he was speaking generosity and compassion, he was in reality practicing selfishness and thoughtlessness. This can be in itself ironic, and OConnor takes advantage of this kind of throughout the tale. In fact , your woman uses mankinds innate selfishness as the source of the majority of her paradox (Malin 36), and nowhere fast is this more apparent within Sheppards condition.

OConnors last, most saddening use of paradox occurs when ever Sheppard at last realizes his grave blunder through a violent revelation and it is overcome with love for Norton-only to find out that his epiphany has come too late and everything his noticeable benevolence has failed him. He’s shocked and horrified if he recognizes just how he has neglected his child in the name of charity, and he promises, He would help to make everything about him, He would never let him suffer once again. He would become a mother and a dad (404). Sheppard immediately pushes to Nortons room to begin with making make amends for his past behaviors-only to discover the child hung in the jungle of dark areas, just below the beam from where he had released his airline flight into space (404). Sheppards neglected child had wiped out himself in an attempt to be reunited with his mom in bliss. Sheppard is absolutely devastated, as they knows that Nortons extreme action is evidence of his severe longing for love (Walters 103). Sheppard grieves because he acquired deprived Norton of the take pleasure in he thus desperately needed-and when he is ready to give that love, it truly is too late. Also, it is cruelly ironic that he had previously thought, in his efforts to reform the intractable Rufus, he previously fatally neglected his individual son (103). The most irritating irony coming from all, however , is that of the time of Sheppards revelation-had this individual recognized the error of his methods only minutes earlier, he could have preserved his sons life. Now he fully realizes that every his charity has attained him nothing-in fact, they have caused him to lose almost everything. This painful irony the actual Lame Shall Enter Initial an unforgettable tale of hypocrisy, frustration, and ultimately tragedy.


Frieling, Kenneth. Flannery OConnors Vision: The Violence of Revelation. Modern Literary Criticism, Vol. 2 . Detroit: Gale Research Company, 1974.

Malin, Irvin. Flannery OConnor. Contemporary Fictional Criticism, Vol. 13. Of detroit: Gale Analysis Company, 80.

OConnor, Flannery. three or more by Flannery OConnor. New york city: New American Library, 1983. pp. 371-404.

Walters, Dorothy. Flannery OConnor. Boston: Twayne, 1973.

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