Southern Literature is considered a sub-genre in American literature because of its way of incorporating recurring themes such as dialect, importance of family, town history, rural setting and many more. The stories “A Good Man” by Flannery O’Conner, “Sweat” by Zora Neal Hurston and “The Story of an Hour” by Kate Chopin are all written in this southern style and contain similar elements such as patriarchal relationships, a character coming to some kind of realization or self-actualization and death.
Moreover, character realization and self-actualization was also a major theme in these stories. During some part of these stories, usually the main character realizes something important about themselves that changes their perspective and causes them to react differently than they normally would. In “A Good Man”, the grandmother realizes in the end that she needs to be forgiven in order to achieve grace before she dies. “Why you’re one of my babies. You’re one of my own children!” (O’Conner 384).
In this scene the grandmother yells out that her murderer is one of her “children” because she grasps the fact that begging for her life is no longer an option, she therefore turns to love. Also in “Sweat”, Delia finally rebels against and stands up to her husband after she has had enough of his abuse, “She seized the iron skillet from the stove and struck a defensive pose, which act surprised him greatly, coming from her” (Hurston 320).
... he gives himself away. The multiple ironies of this story make the main character wonder if he is being haunted or if ... animal to kill it. The main character of this story is the author. He is a round character who progresses and changes throughout ... endless irony. His vivid description of the character's thoughts and emotions really make the story realistic. The postponed climax followed by a ...
Furthermore, in “The Story of an Hour”, after her husband has “died”, instead of mourning, Mrs. Mallard comes to the realization that she is now free from her marriage and free to do what she wants with her life without anyone restricting her, “There would be no one to live for during those coming years; she would live for herself” (Chopin 17).
This quote demonstrates her self-actualization; she experiences joy and relief at the news of her husband’s death to her own surprise.
Lastly, and most importantly, death is a definite reoccurring theme in Southern literature. For example, In “A Good Man”, the story comes to an end with the unfortunate but graceful death of the grandmother, along with the cruel execution of her family, “The Misfit sprang back as if a snake had bitten him and shot her three times through the chest” (O’Conner 384).
“Sweat” also incorporates this theme when Sykes Jones dies ironically at the end, by the snake that he initially brought into their home to kill Delia, “She waited in the growing heat while inside she knew the cold river was creeping up and up to extinguish that eye which must know by now that she knew” (Hurston 327).
Here, Delia is aware that Sykes is dying inside due to a snake bite and she calmly walks away and lets him die inside. In addition, “The Story of an Hour” concludes with Mrs. Mallard dying of a heart attack, “When the doctors came they said she had died of heart disease-of joy that kills” (Chopin 19).
This line shows that Mrs. Mallard died from the shock and disappointment that her husband is not truly dead and her future plans are now abolished.
These elements are repeated throughout all of Southern literature along with many other themes. They help to create stories that reflect the unique culture and history of the south while emphasizing a sense of community, religion and changes from the past to present.