In a good man is hard to find a family of five, a grandmother and three children, travel from Atlanta to Florida. They come across a sign that says “you are now entering a n*gger-killing county” and they decide not to stop in the town of Jefferson because they hear it’s too dangerous. They end up stopping at a diner where the owner tells them about a place called Ruby River County where everyone is “so nice.” After hearing this, their curiosity gets the best of them and they go on a camping trip with two other people who were driving by. The story ends when one of these people turns out to be an escaped convict who kills all four members of the family except for one child who escapes.
The protagonist’s grandmother is introduced, as she arrives to visit the family home. The grandmother appears to be one of O’Connor’s more self-righteous, hypocritical characters from the start. Within the narrative, it is foreshadowed by a newspaper article—although he doesn’t seem to belong in the family’s ordinary world of self-absorption and squabbling at this point. The setting for the tale is also in the South, as O’Connor’s work often does, and Grandma Madeline begins to exhibit some of her most fundamentalist characters.
Prices start at $12
Prices start at $11
Prices start at $12
The family fights frequently: no one pays attention to the Grandmother, and her grandchildren make fun of her. Meanwhile, the Grandmother uses guilt and manipulation to get her way while pretending to be selfless. They simply quarrel and accomplish nothing rather than having a straightforward discussion about each individual’s position.
The grandkids make fun of the Grandmother’s hypocrisy and narrow-mindedness—she’d insist on going even if she didn’t want to. This may appear to be a compelling argument, but it is also delivered in a malicious and insolent manner, so the Grandmother refuses to consider it and continues her bickering instead.
The Grandmother, as June Star and John Wesley predicted, will not be missed on the trip. Her selfishness is evident in the fact that she took the cat—although she views her behavior as one of charity, in some manner safeguarding the cat from “missing her too much.”
The dress worn by the Grandmother reveals a lot about her personality: she is concerned more with how her body would be recognized if they were in a vehicle accident than with comfort. She goes out of her way to make herself look respectable, even if it means putting on makeup. She is so caught up in conforming to social norms that she doesn’t realize death is the ultimate end of things: how she will be remembered no longer affects her now. She has a limited worldview and isn’t yet prepared to consider anything as serious as death.
The Grandmother sees John Wesley and June Star’s behavior as emblematic of the moral decline she experiences in society. They make fun of their home state and elders, demonstrating contempt for them. The Grandmother maintains a sense of superiority, but then shows that her own “traditional” views include overt racism.
With the line, “You still recall the time when we went on a trip,” O’Connor focuses on more everyday family difficulties, showing how each member of the family is self-interested and short-sighted in his or her own way. The Grandmother views her grandchildren as ungrateful and inadequately educated in terms of what it means to be “good.” Meanwhile, her fixation on her plantation from her past illustrates how nostalgia colors everything she sees, and her reference to “Gone With the Wind” implies that the “moral” past she loves was never real in the first place, and was built on racism and even slavery.
The Grandmother’s narrative also highlights her nostalgia for a more innocent and pure era. Her self-doubt—that she should have married the rich guy who died of Coca-Cola stock—reveals that worldly concerns are more important to her than spiritual ones (or even concepts of romantic love). The Grandmother once again demonstrates the racism in her thinking by caricaturing the black “boy” in the tale as just a simple and amusing figure.
The Grandmother’s response—laughing at the notion of living in The Tower and vocally criticizing it to Red Sam’s wife—is a clear example of how younger generations have developed an ungrateful, irresponsible attitude. In her own way, the Grandmother is hypocritical and “sinning,” but it’s also true that her grandkids are inconsiderate and spoiled.
Red Sam is a hypocrite like the Grandmother: he scolds his wife for not working hard enough, and then sits down himself. They both agree on many truisms about how modern times have changed. Red Sam spins a tale with the express goal of making himself appear good, and the Grandmother readily leaps to the conclusion that Red Sam is a “great guy.”
This is an essential aspect of O’Connor’s story’s “goodness” theme—just what makes a “good person?” The Grandmother considers that goodness implies being polite, pleasant, courteous, and agreeing with her viewpoints on issues at this time. Red Sam meets all of these requirements—at the very least around the Grandmother herself, since he appears to be largely just attempting to win over his consumers.
Red Sam silences his wife for bringing up The Misfit when she mentions that he may be as bad as or worse than the monster at the end of her bed. He exposes a refusal to address the violence and hardship in the world—rather, he would prefer a pleasant self-righteous chat about how modern youth and Europe are worthless. Tellingly, it’s Red Sam, the hypocritical farceur, who utters the film’s name as a meaningless cliché—he says it just to say anything, but after all that violence and elegance comes around, the phrase takes on new meaning and complexity.
The Grandmother, like her mother and grandmother before her, tries to persuade her family to modify their itinerary. She is upfront here, but does not seem to even acknowledge it to herself; instead, she believes that what she is doing is for the best of everyone else. The family does not engage in open discussion but bickers and quarrels until someone capitulates. Bailey doesn’t get a lot of character development in this book, but he seems weary and irritated throughout. And yet he’s also clearly not a good father or son at all.
The tension between the parents (Bailey and his wife) and their children (June Star and John Wesley) reflects a generational gap: whereas the kids do not value other people’s privacy as much as their parents, this may change. The story is rapidly escalated in O’Connor’s play , as these character studies of routine and hypocrisy are swiftly replaced by something terrible beginning in the following few acts.
It’s important to note that the Grandmother is a petty, self-centered old woman who causes the accident: she does not bring her cat into the vehicle or persuade her family to visit the house she wanted to see, and there would have been no crash (and even if they had otherwise crashed, it wouldn’t have been on a deserted back road). Even after the wreck, all the Grand grandmother can think about is herself: she disregards any risk of harm or death.
Flannery O’Connor’s most disturbing work of fiction is her short story “A Good Man Is Hard to Find,” which is the title tale of her first collection of short stories, published in 1955. Since it was titled “A Good Man Is Hard To Find,” the tale has remained a trademark short story for O’Connor (1).)”
Only by role is the grandmother identified in this short story, which was written by Flannery O’Connor. She does not use names for any of the other characters. Despite having no name, the grandmother’s personality is revealed early and profoundly; she is preoccupied with appearances, has a vague Southern heritage, and is concerned with etiquette and ladyhood.
Her “navy blue straw sailor hat,” her “collars and cuffs [that] were white organdy trimmed with lace,” and her “purple spray of cloth violets containing a sachet” the grandmother pins at her neckline to indicate that if she is deceased on the road, anyone seeing her will realize quickly that she was a lady,” O’Connor describes (2).
The grandmother is a self-centered woman who uses her family to her advantage without remorse or impunity. Even though Bailey has expressly forbidden the cat to share the room with them, she deliberately misinforms him about his mother’s pet, Pitty Sing (1).
The grandmother’s pride and inflated sense of self importance, as well as her failing memory, contribute to the family’s downfall. The grandmother claims to recall a plantation house from her youth after waking up from a nap in the car. Even though she knows that her son Bailey “would not be willing to lose any time looking at an old house…the more she talked about it, the more she wanted to see it once again and find out if the little twin arbors were still standing,” (O’Connor 5)
In her eyes, her child’s resistance is a minor obstacle to overcome in order to achieve her goals. Even though Bailey’s “jaw was as hard as an horseshoe” as a result of his mother’s aggravation, the grandmother does not give up (O’Connor 5).
Instead, she lies and gets the aid of her grandkids: “There was a secret panel in this house,” she said deviously, not telling the truth but wishing it were true. “It’s only a short walk from here,” the grandmother lied. “It wouldn’t take more than twenty minutes” (O’Connor 5). The grandma actually doesn’t know.
Individuality is also addressed in “A Good Man Is Hard to Find.” The Misfit, for example, responds to the senseless grandmother’s scream of “You’re the Misfit!” with Bailey’s fury. “I recognized you straight away!” “Yes, ma’am,’ the man replied…”But it would have been better for everyone if you hadn’t recognized me.” Bailey whipped his head around and barked at his mother in a way that surprised even the children.
When the old lady began to cry, The Misfit flushed. “The old lady began to weep and The Misfit turned a darker shade of red” (O’Connor 8). When Bobby Lee returns from the woods with Bailey’s yellow shirt full of parrots, a little event happens in which The Misfit puts on the dead man’s clothes and becomes his identity for a time (Gresham 18). He, like Bailey, views the grandmother’s silly concern with etiquette as “selfish, superficial, and condescending,” but unlike Bailey he is free to take action against her (Kinney 1)
In “A Good Man is Difficult to Find,” Flannery O’Connor emphasizes the dangers of selfishness and rampant individuality in separating individuals. The Misfit, for example, is a character who typically ends up as “self-focused wanderers without community who use others as means to their own ends,” according to Hooten (197).
Aside from their social acceptability, little distinction exists between the grandmother’s and The Misfit’s characters. Both are selfish and extreme individualists who will lie, thieve, deceive, and murder to get what they want. In Flannery O’Connor’s hands, this selfishness and individuality collide at a catastrophe point, resulting in the deaths of five innocent people. Worse still, one of their own is responsible for their murders.
The southern gothic style is one of a kind, and it demands a certain finesse to employ. In her short story “A Good Man Is Difficult to Find,” Flannery O’Connor does an excellent job with it. She uses dark humor, a southern accent, and mixes them together to create her own southern gothic style. O’Connor graduated from Georgia State College in 1945 before continuing on to earn her Masters degree at Iowa State University in 1947. She even went on to win the National Book Award while she was still at university.
“A Good Man Is Hard to Find” is a short narrative, and the author focuses on writing brief tales. This tale is about a vacation with the family that goes horribly wrong. The grandmother in this story has an ill-tempered disposition and a faulty memory, while there’s also a car accident with several questionable eyewitnesses. To create this little tale an interesting read, O’Connor employs foreshadowing in all of these areas using a distinct combination of setting, tone, irony, and character development.
You read it. I wouldn’t take my children in any direction with a criminal like that on board. I couldn’t answer to my conscience if I did so. “Just read it,” says the mother of the family who has just experienced a vehicle accident witnessed only by The Misfit himself.