The Real Courage-Comparison between the central characters in "Roger Malvin's Burial" and "A Good Man is Hard to Find"

Essay by wolfman50College, Undergraduate April 2004

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Courage is not a virtue which can be defined in one broad stroke. Nor can it be easily under adverse conditions. In "Roger Malvin's Burial" by Nathaniel Hawthorne along with "A Good Man is Hard to Find" by Francis O'Connor, a lack of courage can be seen in two distinct ways. In "Roger Malvin's Burial", the protagonist, Reuben Bourne, is haunted by a looming sense of guilt from the knowledge that he did not come back to provide a proper burial for his father-in-law, who he left wounded in feeble from war in the darkness of the woods. On the hand, in "A Good Man is Hard to Find" a man named the Misfit appears to have lost all meaning in his life as he now resorts to a life of crime and murder. Although both Reuben Bourne and the Misfit appear lacking in courage, unable to act up to their ideal sense of behavior, there appears to be overriding factors in both men which help create this flaw, tearing underneath both men, stripping away the courage that both used to have.

Both these stories depict instances displaying a lack of courage from the central character. In "Roger Malvin's Burial", Reuben Bourne promises Roger Malvin, his older friend who fought with him in the Indian War, to come back with help. Reuben is hesitant to leave Roger as he knows that he is sure to perish if he's not there to tend his wounds. However, after conversing with Roger he realizes that he must leave or otherwise he will perish as well. Roger has a daughter, Dorcas, who he knows Reuben loves and wants to marry. Therefore, Reuben makes a promise to send for help back to his location as...