Analysis Of The Lame Shall Enter First By Flannery O Connor

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Flannery O’Connor produced a short story—one that almost allows the reader to have free admission into their own objective thoughts—titled “The Lame Shall Enter First” (1965). However, the 3rd person narration is interrupted an unsettling number of times by one of the main character’s biases; O’Connor cannot help but include Sheppard’s own thoughts and feelings throughout the tale. In these instances, the opportunity is lost for the reader to draw their own conclusions on the narrative’s events. The text allows for this to happen both through what Sheppard articulates and with the addition of free indirect discourse (free indirect discourse refers to a transition from background information in a story into the thoughts of a character). Sheppard …show more content…
Immediately, “The Lame Shall Enter First” explains Sheppard’s ideas on what Norton should do with his imaginary prize money; Sheppard pleads with his son “wouldn’t you like to spend it on the children less fortunate than yourself… give some swings and trapezes to the orphanage… buy poor Rufus Johnson a new shoe?” (Lame 598). This dialogue follows Norton’s decision to keep the money. What would he keep it for? Sheppard assumes it is only for selfish reasons thus putting that image into the reader’s mind. O’Connor adds some free indirect discourse right before this event by allowing the narration to say, “Almost any fault would have been preferable to selfishness—a violent temper, even a tendency to lie” (Lame 596). These are directly Sheppard’s thoughts and feelings about his son’s pitfalls. How can spectators possibly stay equitable in their ideas of this child with a character from the story harping his or her own opinion in their …show more content…
This allows the reader to have zero room to stay away from formulating an opinion regarding the actions of Rufus throughout the story. Sheppard falls victim to one of the most common forms of biases—choice support bias (when somebody tends to feel positive about something they chose, even if that choice has flaws). In O’Connor’s story, Sheppard chooses for Rufus to stay with him and Norton in their house. Initially, Norton tells on Rufus for causing mischief in the house to no success with his father. Sheppard turns a blind eye to Norton by exclaiming “Stop this! Is tattling all you’re capable of?” adding as well “I’m not asking you for a report on Rufus’s conduct. I’m asking you to make him feel welcome here” (Lame 608). This immediately draws the reader into Sheppard’s cognizance and ruins any sense of impartiality that they may have had towards Rufus. Because the father has such a high regard and bias towards his “espoused son”, it is impossible for an onlooker of this story to not feel the same way. The Bible states that “if you show favoritism, you sin and are convicted by the law as lawbreakers” (James 2:9). Sheppard is not even slightly affected by this verse due to his religious beliefs—or lack thereof. O’Connor continues to show this “favoritism” of Rufus over Norton throughout the rest of the story; this does not

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