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Violence and the Grotesque in American Literature

            "I suppose the reasons for the use of so much violence in modern fiction will differ with each writer who uses it; [nonetheless], violence is strangely capable of returning.characters to reality and preparing them to accept their .
             moment of grace" - Flannery O'Connor .
             From a rather simplistic point of view, both Shirley Jackson's, "The Lottery" and Flannery O'Connor's, "A Good Man is Hard to Find," could be considered as grotesque and cruel stories in which violence takes place randomly and totally unreasonably. However, through this paper, we will analyze the function of these grotesque and violent elements in order to compare both stories and evaluate how they fulfill different purposes through their use. .
             Grotesque is definable as " the aberration from ideal or from accepted convention, to create the misshapen, ugly, exaggerated, or even formless.[It creates] deliberate exaggerations of caricature.accidents, and failures of the everyday world represented in realist imagery." (Connelly 2). If we take it as such, both stories' plots fit in this definition: they are set on a completely realistic location, with factual characters and reliable events. However, both their endings are absolutely cruel, violent and make the reader feel uneasy and shocked with great doses of brutality mixed with somehow laughable elements. .
             "The Lottery" starts in "the morning of June 27th. [It] was clear and sunny, with the fresh warmth of a full-summer day; the flowers were blossoming profusely and the grass was richly green," and the community was gathering in the square (Jackson 5). Similarly, "A Good Man is Hard to Find" opens with a rather typical family going on a summer holiday trip. As Orbitz suggests, both stories' description of pleasant settings do not foreshadow the hideous endings that will follow (The Impact of a Setting).

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