Sunday, September 28, 2008

Vindication of Suffering

Suffering is an inherent, universal aspect of life to which we must all be subjected to in one degree or another. We might deny it, accept it, run away from it, flourish in it, or vindicate it, but it is pervasive whether we acknowledge its presence or do not. The path of vindication, taken by The Misfit in the short story of the same name by Flannery O'Connor, is such that in order not to suffer unjustly, he wreaks havoc on society. The Misfit feels as though he has been punished, that everyone is punished, in life whether they have committed a wrong or not. Following this perceived truth, he reasons, one may as well do something to validate the inevitable suffering. “'s nothing for you to do but enjoy the few minutes you got left the best way you can—by killing somebody or burning down his house or doing some other meanness to him. No pleasure but meanness” (O'Connor 180). Rather than work from the legalistic, socially accepted ideal in which one does wrong and is then punished, The Misfit views life as working in the opposite, and himself to be merely following its natural flow. He defines punishment as not only stemming from law, but also as being a basic component of life which own must react to.
The Misfit does not rebel from society and its ideals, but rather embraces life as he sees it. Though he defines himself as a bad man, he seems to feel no unwanted guilt for his actions and, in fact, one might point out that he seems to display an attitude of justification. He owes it to life to do something, such as murder, in order to better live up to the punishment which has been bestowed upon him. He harbors no bitterness for this punishment, but reacts as to it, he believes, as one naturally ought.

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