The Artificial Nigger: Truths Behind Racism

In O'Connor's "The Artificial Nigger" the essences of prejudice and degradation are captured to a great extent. Reality shows us with needless consistency people in a need to feel better about themselves only achieve it by being better than someone else. Therefore every opportunity at hand, including racism, is taken advantage as a form of gratification. Mr. Head, the grandfather, is an example of one of these people. He is in competition with seemingly everyone he encounters while in a day trip to the City. Racism is just one of the ways he utilizes to demean others while elevating his own self-image. O'Connor's depiction of a Southern, and close-minded person goes into the extreme depths of what constitutes as well as produces an imprudent racist.

Mr. Head, a self-proclaimed missionary, plans on taking his grandson, Nelson, to Atlanta city. Intending to introduce Nelson to the focal point of his racist teachings. However, Mr. Head's subconscious motives are to have Nelson believe his grandfather's existence in his life is indispensable. He hopes Nelson dependency upon him increases. Doing so would not only make his own self feel superior but also satisfy his own dependency needs. He's content with the thought that once Nelson has had the opportunity in experiencing the city. He will "be content to stay at home for the rest of his life"(251).

His only comforting thoughts, as he laid to sleep before the day of the trip, were not of turning Nelson into a racist however, of "thinking how the boy would at last find out that he was not as smart as he thought he was"(251). Degrading anyone, including his own grandson, is another way by which Mr. Head can feel satisfied with himself. He welcomes and anticipates the point at which Nelson questions his own intelligence. Towards the beginning of the story Mr. Head belittles Nelson rationalizing once arriving in the city "he will've been there twict"(250). Considering Atlanta was his place of birth Nelson believed it to be true. Logically Nelson made sense nevertheless, "Mr. Head had contradicted him" (250). Irony is first present here as Mr. Head continuously accuses Nelson of being ignorant, yet Mr. Head is the one displaying ignorance in every spoken.

From the beginning of the story Mr. Head is seen as a character extremely selfish and only concerned with one self. O'Connor reveals Mr. Heads way of thinking to better understand his persona. Her characters are seemingly study cases and in reading thoughts we first begin to see personality disorders. Many such disorders are responsible for unreasoned thinking. I believe mental conditions are a definite underlying factor if not contributor to racial prejudices.

Waiting for the train to stop for them, the day of the trip, Mr. Head secretly fears it will not do so, "which case, he knew Nelson would say, " I never thought no train would stop for you,"(252). The fears Mr. Head had experienced are not typically common within the emotionally stable rather by the antisocial. As soon as Mr. Head and Nelson walked down the aisle of the car train. He lacked respect for any around him. Although it was early morning and people were sleeping, Mr. Head's volume awoke the passengers; he paid no attention to the rustling he caused by being rude.

While en route to the city an event happens that portrays indefinitely the actions of someone, Mr. Head, with low self-worth. What took place in less than a minute revealed to Nelson what was behind all the hatred his grandfather had for Blacks. A group of three, tan-colored people proceeded down the aisle where Mr. Head and Nelson sat. Mr. Head then tells Nelson they were "niggers," and immediately afterwards insults his intelligence. Mr. Head belittles Nelson simply because of the lack of recognition towards Blacks. I feel a student is only as good as his teacher. Mr. Head says his student, Nelson, is oblivious to how blacks appear, despite all of his years in learning. O'Connor develops in further detail Mr. Heads inhibitions. It's obvious Mr. Head lacks parental, as well as teaching skills. I am aware O'Connor didn't intend to apply any one theme to this story as well as any of her other works however, she clearly illustrated here how "Ignorance begets Ignorance." Nelson "felt that the Negro had deliberately