The author uses several literary elements. They include symbolism, point of view, foreshadowing, irony, and tone. With their help, the author can give ambiguous meaning to the events, building a narrative. The story is filled with tension and depicts an unexpected but foreshadowed tragedy.
The most significant literary element used in the story is symbolism. It conveys complex ideas in an easy form and gives a deeper meaning to everyday objects. For example, O’Connor often uses the weather and the sky to describe the characters’ moods. This element shows up at the end of the story when the sky becomes cloudless and clear. It is related to the death of the Grandmother and symbolizes her awareness of her position in the world. The old house she aspires to visit describes her habit of living in the past. It is also located in Tennessee, not Georgia. It indicates that memory can be distorted and misrepresented.
Point of view is another literary device used by the author. The story is told in the third person, indicating the objective truth. For example, the author underlines that “the Grandmother didn’t want to go to Florida.” The reader has access only to the thoughts of this character and no one else. Besides, she is the only character without a name. O’Connor avoids depicting nontrivial personalities. Using this technique, the author describes typical people, not particular ones. They should be judged based on their actions and not according to the features underlined by the author.
Foreshadowing is the most often used and meaningful literary element in the story. Seemingly insignificant episodes or phrases contribute to the overall picture. For example, The Misfit, who kills the family in the end, is presented through a casual dialogue. The Grandmother dresses as if preparing for a tragedy. She mentioned that “anyone seeing her dead on the highway would know at once that she was a lady. The family also drives through a cemetery, hinting at their imminent demise. Finally, The Misfit drives a big black car that looks like a hearse, symbolizing the impending tragedy.
O’Connor uses irony, which is a complex literary element giving simple things new conflicting meanings. This technique is often used in situations when unexpected events occur in an everyday setting. The central irony is that the family went on a summer vacation and came to their death. The same device is used when a few minutes before meeting The Misfit, June Star notes that “nobody’s killed.” Irony conveys ideas which the characters in the story are not aware of. Bailey says, “we’re in a terrible predicament! Nobody realizes what this is.” The reader understands that something terrible will happen. The tension is created through the expectation of tragedy and sympathy for the family.