"The Artificial Nigger"

Flanery O'Connor
#1
In this short story, set in the 1920’s, Nelson and his Grandfather, Mr. Head, leave on a trip from the countryside to the city for a day. Nelson believes he knows everything there is to know about the city because he was told he was born and stayed there for a couple days as an infant, although Mr. Head disagreed and thought Nelson was being naive. Upon their arrival, Nelson was in shock of the large buildings surrounding him so his grandfather decided to keep in a close proximity of the train station, to keep from getting lost and walked in circles, Nelson eventually caught on. Mr. Head then showed Nelson the city’s sewage system in hopes to scare Nelson, which he came to believe that it was a gateway to Hell.
The two became lost after walking further away from the station and ended up in the African-American community. Nelson eventually asks an African-American woman for directions which quickly escalates into an embarrassing situation where Mr. Head quickly got them out of. Mr. Head then scares Nelson after he fell asleep next to a building causing him to run down an elderly lady. When Mr. Head denies knowing Nelson after the incident, Nelson then loses trust in his grandfather. Eventually, a stranger points them to the train station and along the way they pass by an African-American figurine from which the story gets its title. Mr. Head explains that it is there because the people in that neighborhood don't have real ones so they need artificial ones. Mr. Head feels like he has redeemed their relationship at this point in the story and Nelson has no intention to return to the city.

#2
The Artificial Nigger and A Good Man is Hard to Find do have some similar characteristics about them since they are both written by Flannery O' Connor and they both take place somewhere in the South. It allows O'Connor to bring up the issue of racial discrimination in both stories. The stories mostly take place during the day time. There is a family in both of the stories which help with the plot. The stories each have a scene where they are in some type of transportation, and those scenes have important role in both stories. The theme that relates to both stories is that the older generation is teaching the younger generation a thing or two.
Two characters that have some similar characteristics about them are the grandmother in “A Good Man is Hard to Find” and Mr. Head in “The Artificial Nigger.” They both have strong character; which makes them very prideful of themselves. They both believe that they can do no wrong. They believed that they are superior to the other characters in their stories. Mr. Head and the grandmother both were trying to teach their grandchildren either a lesson, which is the case for Mr. Head, or how to be proper and respectful. In the end of each story they both have a change in character for the better. The grandmother starts to realize, after her final moments before death, that she is not superior and she is also flawed like everyone else in the world. Mr. Head starts to show change when he sees the man walking by and starts to cry out to him telling him that they are lost. From that moment is pride was shattered and he is showing weakness something he would not have done before. When Mr. Head and Nelson are heading back to the train station they come across an “artificial nigger.” Mr. Head realizes it is his chance to resolve the problem he has with Nelson. He says, “They ain't got enough real ones here. They got to have an artificial one,” which helps solve the problem between Nelson and Mr. Head.
Nelson the grand kid and the Misfit are similar because they are the ones that helped the main characters change.


#3
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This picture of an elderly person is not about the fact that there are elderly people in both of our stories, but that they both play key roles in the stories. In both stories these specific characters are both trying to implement their ideas and wisdom of what they believe to be right, into the younger generation. The grandmother in “It’s Hard to Find a Good Man” was trying the entire story to show the grand kids how life used to be and how nobody was ever nice anymore. The grandfather in “The Artificial Nigger” tried to make Nelson see that the city wasn't as great as he thought it was going to be.




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