Flannery O'Connor's Southern upbringing influences the themes of her stories. Southerners were very prejudiced towards people of different races and lifestyles; they believed that they were superior to those who were less fortunate than they were. There were different social classes in which people were placed. The settings of her stories are set in Georgia or Tennessee, an area she knows best, and she gives her characters southern accents. The South provided O'Connor with imagery she needed to develop her characters. During her writing career in the 1950s and early '60s, the South was dominated by Protestant Christians; therefore, she was born and raised Catholic. Her religion also plays a part in developing her themes.
At the beginning of this story, the grandmother argues with her family about taking a trip to Florida, because she had learned there was a killer named Misfit that had escaped from a federal penitentiary and was on the run near the area they would be visiting. They showed little respect and did not listen to her. The children illustrate the lost respect and discipline while traveling in the car to Florida. At one point, the children make rude remarks about their state's land. The comments got under the grandmother's skin, so she explained to them that in her time children were more respectful of their native states and to their parents. Usually, grandparents are looked up to by other family members (Kennedy 2005). This is to show how family life had changed from the author's time.
Flannery O'Connor uses her short stories to expose her beliefs and disbeliefs about mankind and the mysteries that it beholds. She was influenced in many ways during her life, and her writing helped her to deal with her own problems. She reveals her attitude on prejudice and the effects that some people had on mankind. Writing her stories was a way to suppress her anger toward people of lower standards. O'Connor was also deeply concerned with the values and the path of the youth of her time. She believed that Christ was no longer a main concern to the people of her generation.
By the time Goodman Brown enters the forest, Hawthorne immediately indulges the reader into the theme of duplicity by introducing the first man that Brown meets: himself. “As almost as can be recognized, the second explorer was ...