A Southern American novelist and short-story writer, Miss O`Connor’s career spanned the 1950s and early 60s, a time when the South was dominated by Protestant Christians. O`Connor was born and raised Catholic. She was a fundamentalist and a Christian moralist whose powerful apocalyptic fiction is focused on the South. Flannery O`Connor was born March 25, 1925, in Savannah, Georgia. O`Connor grew up on a farm with her parents Regina and Edward O`Connor.
At the age of five, she taught a chicken to walk backward. O`Connor attended Georgia State College for women, now Georgia College, in Milledgeville, majoring in sociology. She had shown a gift for satirical writing, as well as cartooning since she was a child. By the end of her undergraduate education, O`Connor knew that writing was her true passion. She spent two years at the prestigious School for Writers at the State University of Iowa on scholarship, receiving a master`s degree in fine arts in 1947 (Candee 318).
In 1950, she had a near-fatal attack of systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), a chronic inflammatory connective tissue disorder. that causes periods of joint pain and fatigue and can attack the hearts, lungs, and kidneys. Her father died of the disease when she was fifteen (Blythe 49). O`Connor would have to walk with crutches for the rest of her life. By her death at the age of 39, Flannery O`Connor won a prominent place in modern American literature.
She was an anomaly among post-World War II writers, a Roman Catholic from the Bible Belt South, whose stated purpose was to reveal the mystery of God`s grace in everyday life. Aware that few readers shared her faith, O`Connor chose to depict salvation through shocking, often violent action upon characters who were spiritually or physically grotesque (Riley 334).
Flannery O`Connor`s significance as a writer is her original use of religion. Like no other short story writer, she dramatizes religious themes in her fiction stories. She is established as one of the most gifted and original fiction writers of the 20th century. “Everything That Rising must converge,” and “Revelation” won first prize in the O. Henry awards for short stories. “The Life You Save May Be Your Own” and A “Circle in the Fire” won second prize in the O. Henry awards. ” The Complete Stories of Flannery O’Connor” won the National Book Award in 1971 (Bloom 145-146).
O’Connor’s work is inspired by the sense of the mystery of human nature. She tends to use good vs. evil and death to shock and startle her readers into an awareness of the theological truth of faith, the fall, the redemption, and the judgment (Riley 367). Some critics describe her writing as harsh and negative while people in the religious community wanted a happier communication of the faith. O’Connor described her characters as “poor afflicted in both mind and body, with little or at best a distorted sense of spiritual purpose”(Harris & Fitzerald 336).
O`Connor claims she understood the universe created by God as good and evil. In a letter to a friend, she complained about a review that called her short story collection, A Good Man is Hard To Find, brutal and sarcastic. The stories are hard, she wrote. But they are hard because there is nothing harder or less sentimental than Christian realism? (qt. In Harris & Fitzerald 336). O’Connor likes to focus on the rough, often ugly memories of the place she knew best, the rural South.
She saw her world as sacrament, brushed with grace, twisted, beaten, but still straining toward her belief in God. The settings of her stories and novels are either Georgia or Tennessee, often backwoods or rural areas. She gives her characters a southern accent because this is the area she knows best. O’Connor uses common symbols, such as sunsets that resemble blood-drenched Eucharistic host, preening peacocks that represent Christ’s transfiguration, and the trees themselves writhe in spiritual agony (Bloom 49). Some critics say that she is trying to convert her readers, whom she assumes are non-believers.
The story “A Good Man is Hard To Find” begins with a family planning to take a vacation to Florida. The grandmother who does not want to take the vacation in Florida is persuading the family. She has read about a crazed killer by the name of the Misfit, who is on the run, heading for Florida. The mambas of her family ignore the grandmother. On the day of the trip, ironically, the grandmother is dressed in her Sunday best. She is decked in white gloves and a navy blue dress with a matching hat.
She is the first one in the car and ready to go. O’Connor is getting the reader to visualize the Southern culture. The grandmother’s purpose of dressing this way is to be recognized as a lady, in case someone saw her dead on the highway. This tells me the grandmother’s thoughts of death are shallow. Later in the story, the Misfit says, “There never was a body that gave the undertaker a tip” (and, in DiYanni 202) The grandmother’s readiness for death is an indication that she does not want to go where there is a prisoner on the loose.
However, her readiness for death changes when she recognizes the Misfit. As the trip progresses, the children act like brats. O’Connor is illustrating the lost respect for the family and elders. The family’s encounter with Red Sammy Butts serves as another way O’Connor expresses how trust and respect have begun to wear away. The grandmother makes the mistake of telling the children the story of a nearby house that has a secret panel.
The children scream until the father, Bailey, gives in and takes them to see the house. On the way down the long windy road that leads to the house, the cat gets out of his cage and jumps on Bailey’s shoulder, resulting in the car being overturned. As everyone is getting themselves together, a car with three men approaches. The grandmother recognizes the Misfit at once. The Misfit reveals himself as polite and sociable and even apologizes to the grandmother for Bailey’s rudeness to her.
However, the Misfit does not waste any time as he asks one of his cronies to escort Bailey and John Wesley off into the woods to meet their fate. The grandmother and the Misfit engage in a conversation, which is supposed to have a religious meaning. The grandmother tries to appeal to the Misfit by saying he isn?t a bit common. The Misfit goes on to tell a story about his family, and how he was the type of child to question everything.
He continues on to talk about periods of a criminal’s life. The grandmother’s prayer of advice gives evidence that they are on two different levels of understanding the Christian faith. O?Connor gives the reader the impression that he is a prophet gone wrong. After the Misfit has the cronies take the mother, daughter, and baby to the woods, the grandmother is left alone with the Misfit, who continues to talk about how Jesus was punished. However, the Misfit has escaped punishment.
Does the grandmother respond in the only way she knows how to by clinging to her superficial beliefs about “good blood” and behaving as a gentleman would? She has a limited understanding of religion and cannot even begin to connect with the Misfit. The grandmother notices the Misfit as he is about to cry. She reaches out her hand and says, “Why you’re one of my babies” The Misfit, who is affected by what she says, jumps back and shoots her three times.
The grandmother is at a very different point from the beginning of the story, A Good Man is Hard to Find by Flannery O Connor than at the end, not just in terms of her physical presence but her mentality too. In the beginning, the reader is clued into the grandmother s shallow thoughts of death. The way the grandmother worries about if she dies and how people will perceive what she was wearing, and then decide based on this if she was a lady, epitomizes her personality of being superficial and apprehensive.
Later on in the story, the grandmother s readiness for death isn’t quite apparent. This is shown with her behavior with the misfit; she shows herself to be the least prepared for death. The grandmother is emotionally dependent, has a desperate need to be able to talk to someone, and thrives for attention.
Through the course of the story, her dependence on these things is tested, which forces her to change how she would normally act. The confrontation between the misfit and the grandmother is when this occurs. At the beginning of the story, the grandmother relies on her family in order to feel balanced and happy in life. When she s left alone with the misfit, she becomes helpless and lonely.
The conversation between the misfit and the grandmother depicts what has actually happened to the grandmother, and the difference of where she stands at the end compared to the beginning of the story. The misfit gets her to the point where she can see and accept the action of grace in her own life and extend it to another, the misfit changes her by getting her to the place where she can be a good woman. By doing this, the grandmother also changes the misfit, by making him in a sense a good man.
This portrays another way that the grandmother s eminence in life has changed. In the beginning, she seemed to have very little or almost no influence on others, but by the end of the story, one can see that she has undoubtedly had an impact on the misfit. When she was first left alone with the misfit she had absolutely no affect on him. She was just trying to persuade and convince him that he was a good man, so she could get out of the situation she was in.
She finally realizes that this isn’t helping and listens to what he has to say. Why you’re one of my babies. You’re one of my own children! She reached out and touched him on the shoulder. The Misfit sprang back as if a snake had bitten him and shot her three times through the chest. It s obvious that by this point she has definitely had a tremendous affect on him.
It isn’t just death that happens to the grandmother in this story, it’s what the misfit has done to change her. Where she s at the end of the story compared to the beginning is completely different. She has changed mentally: the last thing she would have thought before was that she could have a profound and impacting conversation with the misfit, an unstable and generally evil human being. The grandmother sees the misfit s views on the world and eventually changes him too.
The story of “A Good Man Is Hard to Find” by Flannery O’Connor has been debated and analyzed so much because it can be interpreted in one thousand different ways. O’Connor’s characters are usually searching for an elusive salvation, and her stories illustrate her views on the human condition. Many spiritual themes weave their way through her work but never seem to achieve their intended ends.
In this story, groups of criminals massacre an entire family while their ringleader discusses theology with the family’s grandmother, only a hundred feet away. The source of the misinterpretation of the story’s crux emerges from two key characters that O’Connor weaved together: the Grandmother and the Misfit. These two are so complex because they stand for many different things. The most reasonable interpretation of these two characters is that they represent O’Connor’s view on the evil in society.
The story begins with the typical family challenged by their grandmother who does not want to take the vacation to Florida. She has read about a crazed killer by the name of the Misfit who is on the run heading for Florida. Unfortunately, she is ignored by ever member of the family except for the little girl June Star who has come to read her grandmother like a book. Ironically, the morning of the trip the grandmother is dressed in her best Sunday clothes and the first one in the car ready to travel as June Star predicted she would be.
The grandmother’s dress is very nice for a trip she was horrified to take only a day earlier. The grandmother festooned in white gloves, a navy blue dress, and a matching hat, only for the sole purpose of being recognized as a woman in case someone saw her dead on the highway. This logic may seem absurd to anyone who is unfamiliar with aged aristocratic southern culture. Southerners of a high class would dress in their fine clothes when they traveled on vacations, especially ladies.
The reader is clued into the grandmother’s shallow thoughts of death. In the grandmother’s mind, her clothing preparations prevent any doubts about her status as a fine lady. However, the Misfit later points out, ?There never was a body that gave the undertaker a tip.? The grandmother’s superficial readiness for death is a bleak characteristic and revealed when she encounters the Misfit. She shows herself to be the least prepared for death when she is left alone with him.
As the trip progresses, the children reveal themselves as brats, mainly out of O’Connor’s desire to illustrate the lost admiration for the family’s respect for their grandmother. The family lost their respect for their grandmother only because she proposed a different lifestyle. She was part of a Southern aristocratic culture where people behaved much more conservatively. Her beliefs, attitudes, and morals were from another time where people respected what older people had to say, and what they stood for.
Naturally, she was never reluctant to share her opinion on matters and was a little forceful about sharing her thoughts. She made sure to watch over her son and kept a grip on what he did- even as a grown man. She refused to retire and become a composed old woman. She wanted to stay involved in the family’s matters, and show that she was still a significant person with the knowledge that came with her age. Consequently, with all her bickering the family began to hold a grudge against her. The Grandmother lacked comprehension and did not know that she became annoying, but she was not spitefully bothersome.
The reader should notice when the family passes by a cotton field, five or six graves are exposed, and conceivably, they foreshadow the near future. Some interesting dialogue takes place when John Wesley asks, “Where’s the plantation,” and the grandmother replies, “Gone with the Wind”ю This is perhaps another attempt by O’Connor to illustrate the breakdown of the family’s absence of respect and reverence for the grandmother’s old life.
The family’s encounter with Red Sammy Butts serves as another outlet for O’Connor to express how trust and respect have begun to wear away. The reader should note the name of the town “Toombsboro” which the family passes through. The grandmother makes the mistake of telling the children about a house with secret panels that is nearby and immediately the children start screaming about it until Bailey concedes to visit the house. However, the cat moves to cause Pitty Sing to lurch on Bailey’s shoulder resulting in the car spinning out of control, and ending up in a ditch.
Just as everyone is getting their bearings, a car slowly approaches revealing three men. When the men get out of their car, the grandmother recognizes the Misfit at once. Immediately he reveals himself politely sociable criminal, and even apologizes to the grandmother for Bailey’s rudeness to her. However, he also does not waste any time as he asks one of his associates to escort Bailey and John Wesley off into the woods to meet their fate.
At this point in the story, the reader should analyze what he knows of the grandmother’s character so far. She will prove to be no match for the Misfit’s quick wits. She wanted to participate in planning where the family was going and because of her insisting on what they should do, the family is in Toombsboro, stranded with their killer. Therefore, she tries to talk them out of their predicament.
The grandmother tries to appeal to the Misfit by stating that he is not a bit ordinary. She tries to even imply that he has the old southern class and that people misunderstand him. Every pleads the grandmother makes, results in the Misfit talking about different periods of his criminal career. He made sure to avoid her pleas by bringing up topics that kept away from the situation.
Nothing she has said up until this point has affected him. The Misfit’s terse responses to the grandmother’s recommendation of believing in Jesus reveal that these two individuals are on two very different levels with concerns about religion. The Misfit has a sacrilegious understanding of religion and his belief system than does the grandmother. The grandmother knows her religion, but she has no opinions on it. As the two continue in conversation, the Misfit asks the grandmother if it seems right that Jesus was punished and escaped his punishment.
The grandmother responds in the only way she knows how to by clinging to her superficial beliefs about “good blood” and behaving as a good southern gentleman would. She has a limited understanding of religion and cannot even begin to debate with the Misfit who by now has gone off on a rant about how Jesus’ raising of the dead threw the world off-balance. Then the grandmother observes the Misfit, as he was about to cry.
The grandmother is alone, facing the Misfit. Her head clears for an instant and she realizes, even in her limited way, that she is responsible for the man before her. At this point, she reaches out to him and remarks, “Why you’re one of my babies. You’re one of my own children.? The Misfit, who is obviously affected, reared back and shot her three times.
The conversation between the grandmother and the Misfit gets the grandmother to the point where she can see and accept the actions of her own life. The grandmother is alone with the Misfit when her head clears and realizes that she is accountable for her family’s death. The Misfit gets her to the place where she finally can be a good woman, as opposed to a lady. Therefore, she is in turn making him in a sense a good man.
This story is told in the third person. The tone is set to be one of irony. The grandmother, the protagonist, is developed as bossy, manipulative, and grouchy. A grandmother is in conflict with herself about the mistake she made about the state in which the plantation house is in. Also, the grandmother is in conflict with the misfit, trying to manipulate him so that he doesn’t kill her also.
The misfit compares with the grandmother because they are the only two characters in this story who are overbearing, bossy, and on top of the situation. Symbols in this story include The graveyard with five or six graves. Grandmother remembered the description of the plantation house which had six columns, right after they passed through Tombsboro. The yellow shirt with the parrots which Bailey wore indicated he was a mama’s boy who says what his mother wants to hear.
The tower in which the family ate lunch, Red Sammy’s, it looked like a tomb. Another symbol was the car the misfit was driving, it looked like a black horse. Also, the grave which the misfit dug with the tip of his shoe while talking to the grandmother, then the misfit covered the hole as if, the misfit is going to kill her and then changing his mind. Finally, the ditch the car runs into symbolizes a grave, the car can not get out and will stay there, in that hole in the ground.
I believe the theme of this story is its title, A Good Man is Hard to Find. Grandmother never found a good man, it was said that Christ was the only good man. The author uses the setting deep south Georgia, the plot which is a mystery, the characters everyone in the family is below grandmother until they meet the misfit who is her equal, and the above symbols to support this theme because none of the men were good.
The Use of Religion in Flannery O’Connor’s “A Good Man is Hard to Find” Flannery O ‘Connor is a Christian writer, and her work shows Christian themes of good and evil, grace, and salvation. O’Connor has challenged the theme of religion into all of her works largely because of her Roman Catholic upbringing. O’Connor wrote in such a way that the characters and settings of her stories are unforgettable, revealing deep insights into human existence.
In O’Connor’s Introduction to a “Memoir of Mary Ann,” she claims that Christians live to prepare for their death. The irony in the story is shown when the grandmother, who thinks she is a good Christian, in reality, is just as evil as the Misfit. When the grandmother and the Misfit are alone the grandmother’s selfishness becomes apparent to readers.
Even though her family had just been murdered, largely because of the consequences of her selfish acts, she is focused on saving her own life. Furthermore, she tries to convince the Misfit that he is a good man. “I just know you ‘re a good man.” (O’Connor “A Good Man Is Hard to Find” 148) The Misfit replies with, “Nome, I ain’t a good man…but I ain’t the worst in the world neither.” (O’Connor “A Good Man Is Hard to Find” 148) He accepts the fact that he has done wrong but knows there are others who are worst.
The grandmother speaks of prayer to the Misfit but is unable to recite one single prayer. She just repeatedly uses Jesus’ name, almost as if she is cursing. This symbolizes her weak understanding of being a Christian. The Misfit is struggling with his faith in God. While he believes in the existence of a God, he does not believe in an active God. His faith struggles are likely because of the injustice he has experienced as a result of his wrongful conviction for murdering his father.
The short story “A Good Man is Hard to Find” stands as the American Southern Gothic writer Flannery O’Connor’s most disturbing work of fiction. “A Good Man Is Hard to Find” is the title work of O’Connor’s debut collection of short stories which appeared in 1955, and the piece remains her signature short story (Kinney 1).
The action of “A Good Man is Hard to Find” depicts a family vacation gone terribly awry. On a road trip to Florida, a family from Atlanta encounter a homicidal escaped convict whom the media dubs The Misfit. The Misfit and his henchmen execute the entire family and steal their clothes, car, and cat. O’Connor tells the story from the point of view of the grandmother.
“A Good Man is Hard to Find” centers upon two themes: selfishness, and individualism. Essentially the grandmother’s insistence on achieving her own selfish ends results in the death of her entire family, as well as the loss of her own life. This essay analyzes the story’s thematic message in regards to selfishness, individualism, and its effect on the family as well as the larger community, as represented by The Misfit.
O’Connor identifies the main character – the grandmother – only by role, while all of the other characters she provides with names. Despite having no name the grandmother’s character reveals itself early and profoundly; she is obsessed with appearances, connected to a vague Southern past and concerned with propriety and the value of being a lady.
O’Connor describes her “navy blue straw sailor hat,” her “collars and cuffs [that] were white organdy trimmed with lace” and “purple spray of cloth violets containing a sachet” that the grandmother pins at her neckline to ensure that “in case of an accident, anyone seeing her dead on the highway would know at once that she was a lady” (O’Connor 2). Behavior wise the grandmother is a selfish woman who deliberately manipulates her family to suit her own purposes unapologetically and with impunity.
She intentionally misinforms her son Bailey about her cat, Pitty Sing, which she smuggles into the car underneath her “big black valise that looked like the head of a hippopotamus,” even though Bailey has expressly forbidden the cat to share the motel room with them (O’Connor 1). Pitty Sing later brings about the deaths of the whole family following the car accident and the ensuing encounter with The Misfit.
The grandmother’s pride and inflated sense of self-importance, not to mention her failing memory, bring about the family’s downfall. Upon waking up from a nap in the car, the grandmother claims to remember a plantation house from her youth. 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).
Her son’s reluctance, in her mind, remains a simple obstacle to overcome in her desire to get things done her way. Even though Bailey’s “jaw was as rigid as a horseshoe” in response to her goading, the grandmother does not relent (O’Connor 5).
Instead, she lies, and enlists the shrill support of her grandchildren: “There was a secret:-panel in this house,” she said craftily, not telling the truth but wishing that she were, “and the story went that all the family silver was hidden in it when Sherman came through but it was never found” (O’Connor 5). Having stirred the children’s imagination, the grandmother lies again – “It’s not far from here, I know,” the grandmother said. “It wouldn’t take over twenty minutes” (O’Connor 5). The fact is she doesn’t know.
She has no idea where they are. It is not until they are hopelessly lost on the dirt road that “looked as if no one had traveled on it in months” that the grandmother’s “horrible thought” reminds her that the plantation house in question does not exist in the state of Georgia, but in Tennessee, though she is too full of pride to admit this to her son (O’Connor 6) And the wild goose chase that she leads her family on, again, for selfish purposes, leads them to their doomful meeting with The Misfit.
Similarly, the strident individualism that propels the grandmother’s fateful actions manifests itself squarely in the character of The Misfit. The Misfit, like the grandmother, focuses exclusively on himself and employs the other people around him as pawns meant to achieve his own selfish needs and wants (Hooten 198).
The objectification of others – in the case of the grandmother this means the objectification of her own family – results in an overall loss of cohesiveness, wherein “community holds no value” (Hooten 198). Set adrift, peripatetic, and aimlessly moving from one empty community to another, “The Misfit exemplifies this void the lost individual who relates to the community through constantly shifting roles” (Hooten 198). As the grandmother, he takes what he needs in order to get what he wants, and then moves on.
“A Good Man is Hard to Find” also treats individualism through the lens of identity. We see clearly that The Misfit shares Bailey’s ire at the senseless grandmother’s shriek “You’re The Misfit!” she said. “I recognized you at once!” “Yes,” the man said…” But it would have been better for all of you, lady, if you hadn’t recognized me.” Bailey turned his head sharply and said something to his mother that shocked even the children.
The old lady began to cry and The Misfit reddened” (O’Connor 8). When The Misfit’s fellow criminal Bobby Lee returns from the woods with Bailey’s yellow shirt full of parrots, a moment happens wherein The Misfit, by donning the dead man’s attire, acquires his identity for a moment (Gresham 18). He, like Bailey, views the grandmother’s idiotic obsession with decorum as “selfish, superficial, and condescending,” yet unlike Bailey, he remains free to take action to condemn her (Kinney 1)
The short story “A Good Man is Hard to Find” represents Flannery O’Connor’s concern that selfishness and rampant individualism casts people apart and promotes the disenfranchisement of characters such as The Misfit, who invariably end up as “self-focused wanderers without a community who use others as means to their own ends” (Hooten 197).
Very little difference exists between the character of the grandmother and the character of The Misfit, aside from their social viability. Both remain selfish and extreme individualists, who will lie, steal, manipulate, and murder to affect their own ends. In Flannery O’Connor’s hands, this selfishness and individualism collide at a disaster point and initiates the deaths of five innocent people. Worse, the instigator of their murder is one of their own.
There are many elements of the Southern Gothic work in Flannery O’Connor’s short story collection “Good people are hard to find”. The image of the ancient castle with a sliding panel will create suspicious themes and settings that will lead the reader to the dark world and the dark world in the south of the United States. In O’Connor’s story, there are moral messages in all violent and dreadful desolation environments. Later Gothic works do not necessarily explain such fears, there was no moral value in comparing grotesque images (note on 1st November).
A good person thinks it is difficult to find the paper: Bailey and his family found a difficult lifestyle. Flannery O’Connor tells the story that “a nice person is hard to find”. Grandma did not want to go on vacation in Florida and tried many ways to change his son, Bailey’s idea. – Flannery Connor’s short story novel “Good people are hard to find” has many elements of Southern Gothic works.
The image of the ancient castle with a sliding panel will create suspicious themes and settings that will lead the reader to the dark world and the dark world in the south of the United States. In O’Connor’s story, there are moral messages in all violent and dreadful desolation environments.
Flannery O’Connor: “I think that a good person is hard to find” Flannery O’Connor. Known as the second Faulkner writer in the southern United States of America. – According to character analysis by Flannery O’Connor, “Good people are hard to find” is about the decision to go to East Tennessee instead of the nuclear family of Florida in the 1950s. My grandmother said Tennessee’s opposition to criminal, misfit, who escaped from prison, is one of the main reasons she chose.
A good man’s irony is hard to find in the story of Flannario Connor: “A good guy is hard to find” is a holiday mistake. The tone of this story is ironic. This story is grotesque but full of meaningful sarcasm. In this analysis, I will lead you through the clues provided by the author, and finally to the next lesson: “good people” does not go through the appearance, language, thought, but filled with “good” Throughout life.
“Action. – Flannery O’Connor’s” Good Man is Hard to find “family planning and life trying to travel to Florida was at the tragic end for one of their families “I’m not going to take my child in any direction, it is such a senior criminal” (O’Conner pg), she totally disagrees with my words, I got into the hands of dangerous criminals.
How many people do you encounter each day who considers themselves to be a righteous person? Do you agree or disagree with this person’s judgment of their own character? Often a person might hide behind his or her religion as a justification for the actions made in everyday life.
Perhaps some people may decide that committing enough positive actions can somehow cancel out their negative actions, allowing them to consider themselves righteous people. In Flannery O’Connor’s story “A Good Man Is Hard To Find”, the author challenges her readers to consider what it truly means to be a “good man” and why these qualities are so hard to find in a person.
The reader Bailey’s wrath would not come down on her all at once”. (Paragraph 67) Even with all of the trouble, she has caused the elderly woman is so concerned with the belief that she is a good person that she uses it as a justification for her wrongdoings. It is not until the family is faced with a criminal who calls himself “The Misfit” that the truth behind the grandmother really comes to the surface.
The grandmother immediately recognizes him and ignorantly calls him out on his identity, which puts her family into more danger than before. Her son Bailey is so angry with his mother at this point that he “says something to his mother that shocked even the children” (Paragraph 85) and it becomes even more evident that the woman has been provoking angry feelings from her family for some time now.
Even the children have made remarks towards the woman throughout the story, which is a devastating blow when even your own family has negative feelings towards you. Throughout all of the responses from her family, the grandmother still continues to act in her usual selfish ways. Once she is faced up against The Misfit, the grandmother begins trying to manipulate him just as she has done to her family. She tries to persuade him into trusting that she believes him to be a “good man at heart”.
In Flannery O’Connor’s short story “A Good Man is Hard to Find,” the gruesome ending . But, upon a second read, signs of an ominous end permeate the work. Hints of the family’s tragic finale exist throughout the plot until the time of the first murder. The story contains pervasive images of death and to foreshadow the ultimate . The demise of the nameless family at the hands of the malicious Misfit and his henchmen. Before the story begins, O”Connor provides the reader with an epigraph.
It quotes, “The Dragon is by the side of the road, watching those who pass. Beware lest he devours you. We go to the father of souls, but it is necessary to pass by the dragon.” (St. Cyril of. Jerusalem). These few sentences provide the reader with an overview of the story’s events. This quote about the “dragon” relates to the story in that the anonymous ordinary family.
Sets out on a road trip to Florida, and the passengers are consequently “devoured” by the Misfit and his accomplices. (Orvell 130). The Misfit exemplifies the dragon with his redneck appearance and scholarly spectacles. He finds the family on the side of the road, just as the quote states, “The dragon is by the side of the road.” He then almost literally “devours” them, and eventually delivers the grandmother to “the father of souls.”
The grandmother embodies in her character many foreshadowing elements in “A Good Man is Hard to Find.” The story begins with the typical nuclear family setting out on a journey. Immediately the grandmother, who does not wish to travel to Florida, issues her first challenge to their plans. The entire family ignores her except for the little girl, June Star, who easily reads the grandmother like an open book.
She notifies Bailey, her son, about the Misfit and his crimes, and in so doing, she foreshadows coming events. From the beginning of the story, the grandmother makes many attempts to change the family’s plans. Suggesting the family go to Tennessee to visit relatives instead of Florida.
The purpose of most fiction is to convey a moral lesson or message to the reader. In ” A Good Man Is Hard To Find”, Flannery O’Conner uses characterization, setting, and plot to reveal the negative aspects of human behavior and how these personal traits effect the lives of others. These three elements intertwine to form a general conclusion that ignorance, misunderstanding, and hatred towards another can lead to an interesting end to your life.
Rather than end the story happily, the author leaves the main character begging for her life as she suffers the consequence of one of the many negative aspects of her weak-minded way of thinking. The setting can play a major role in determining the overall mood of a story. ” A Good Man Is Hard to Find”, is set in the Southern region of the United States which gives readers a general idea of the type of characters that will be in the story.
Descriptions of the surroundings such as the poor condition of the small African American child’s home reveal the trying times experienced by African Americans of this era and the negativity and bigotry by people like the grandmother. The setting creates a picture in the reader’s head of the dark cloud that hung over the South in the fifties that followed these people every day. The use of language in the story also adds to the negative element of the story.
Decisions made by the characters throughout the story clearly reflect the events that follow. The plot is organized in a way to reveal the negative aspects of the characters gradually. The rising action is the crash into the ditch that sets up the events that follow. It was because of the grandmother’s negative judgment that confused her and led the whole family into a ditch that will soon be in close proximity to their final resting place.
Example #11 – The Analysis of Life and Soul in “a Good Man is Hard to Find”
Flannery O’Connor’s short story appears to be greatly influenced by the time and place in which she grew up, and thus, “A Good Man is Hard to Find” lends itself easily in examination through biographical criticism. Psychoanalytic criticism can be used in combination with biographical criticism to more competently interpret and explain characters within the short story and their thoughts, actions, dialogues, and traits.
“A Good Man is Hard to Find” by O’Connor can be analyzed using biographical criticism and psychoanalytic criticism in order to gain a more valuable understanding of the characters within the work and the connections between O’Connor’s real life and the work.
The setting of “A Good Man is Hard to Find” is a place that is very familiar to O’Connor: The great state of Georgia. O’Connor was a Georgia native, and her work greatly reflects the fondness she felt for the South. O’Connor vividly describes keystone characteristics of driving through South Georgia: She pointed out interesting details of the scenery: Stone Mountain; the blue granite that in some places came up to both sides of the highway; the brilliant red clay banks slightly streaked with purple; and the various crops that made rows of green lace-work on the ground.
The trees were full of silver-white sunlight and the meanest of them sparkled. O’Connor is revealing the beauty of Georgia as she sees it. It is implied that the grandmother in “A Good Man is Hard to Find” is the voice of O’Connor’s passion for the South, particularly Georgia and Tennessee. While the grandmother as a whole does not directly represent O’Connor, she speaks to the state of Georgia in such a personal and endearing manner that cannot help but be attributed to O’Connor’s own feelings.
O’Connor’s great pride for the state of Georgia continues to be apparent through the grandmother’s argument against her grandson John Wesley’s want to “go through Georgia fast so [they] won’t have to look at it much.” The grandmother boastfully told John Wesley that “Tennessee has the mountains and Georgia has the hills.” She also told him that he should have more pride in his native state.
A strong sense of O’Connor’s ties to her own native state can be perceived to affect this work as a whole. The grandmother’s attitudes toward the South may reflect O’Connor’s own, but the grandmother herself does not represent O’Connor or her actual life. The character of the grandmother, however, may be based on or drawn from a person that O’Connor knew in her real life.
Being that the grandmother’s character is a somewhat stereotypical woman from the 1950s era South, it can be assumed that there is some sort of real-life influence on her character’s nature. The grandmother’s loyalty toward ladylikeness, her demanding personality, and her racist comments are to be expected for a woman of her time and place.
The grandmother’s attitude toward African Americans was the common sentiment among white people of that time period in the rural South. A major controversy in the 1950s was that of racial segregation and civil rights for African Americans. The grandmother in “A Good Man is Hard to Find” illustrates an outlook on African Americans that offers an honest look at how the society around O’Connor viewed issues of race or class.
The grandmother refers to the African American boy in degrading terms that immediately undermine his credibility as a human by her standards: “Oh look at the cute little pickaninny!” she said and pointed to a Negro child standing in the door of a shack. “Wouldn’t that make a picture, now?” “He probably didn’t have any britches,” the grandmother explained. “Little riggers in the country don’t have things as we do. If I could paint, I’d paint that picture,” she said.
The grandmother acts as though she is observing an animal at a zoo when she is looking at this boy in his doorway. She places herself so high above the boy that it makes looking at the boy on his steps similar to looking at a picture. This is a significant moment in that it reveals some of the ever-so-moral grandmother’s realistically feeble morality.
The narrator’s reference to the boy as a “negro” is also reflective of the time period and state of segregation in which O’Connor wrote this story. The term “negro” would have been socially acceptable and politically correct. The racial language and descriptions used by the narrator and the grandmother are useful in understanding the moment of the work.
Being perceived as ladylike is very important to the grandmother. When preparing to go to Florida with her son and his family, she made sure to dress in very nice clothing and was judgmental of Bailey’s wife’s more casual clothing choices. The narrator says, The children’s mother still had on slacks and still had her head tied up in a green kerchief, but the grandmother had on a navy blue straw sailor hat with a bunch of white violets on the brim and a navy blue dress with a small white dot in the print.
Her collars and cuffs were white organdies trimmed with lace and at her neckline, she had pinned a purple spray of cloth violets containing a sachet. In case of an accident, anyone seeing her dead on the highway would know at once that she was a lady. The way others perceive her is of top priority to the grandmother. Her need to conform to her own ladylike standards concurs with thoughts of the time.
Being that the grandmother is described as being an old woman in the 1950s, it can be assumed that she was raised in a time period that placed particular emphasis on women’s appearance and dress. Her attentiveness to being ladylike is also of importance because it shows readers how the grandmother wishes to present herself. The readers see that the grandmother wants to be viewed as a good woman.
Through the use of Freud’s Tripartite Psyche, readers may gain a more thorough understanding of the grandmother’s character. The id, ego, and superego aid in rationalizing the actions, thoughts, and dialogue of the grandmother’s character. The grandmother’s id is most apparent when she lies to her grandchildren, John Wesley and June star, about a made-up secret panel in an old house she used to live in.
The id is also dominant when the grandmother decides not to speak up when she realizes the house that she is leading everyone to is in Tennessee and not Georgia. The grandmother shows no sign of care for consequences or morality when it comes to lying to the children or keeping her mouth shut about the house. The ego of the grandmother is evident at the moment that she realizes the house is in fact not in Georgia.
This realization causes her to jump and scare the cat, Pitty Sing, which subsequently causes Bailey to wreck the car. This slight slip up was her ego’s way of trying to clear her of the lies that she told. Her ego wants her to stay honest. The superego of the grandmother is not apparent until she is in her final moments. Her conscience comes to life when she is on the business end of The Misfit’s gun.
The grandmother says, “Why you’re one of my babies. You’re one of my own children!” She reaches out and touches The Misfit, and he shoots her three times. The grandmother’s superego is releasing itself in the form of an epiphany. She realizes that error of her judgmental and hypocritical ways, but it is too late. In conclusion, “A Good Man is Hard to Find” by Flannery O’Connor is a superior work to analyze using both the biographical and psychoanalytic schools of criticism.
Both schools of criticism aid in the expansion of the text and leave room for explanation of the author’s relation to the text, characters within the work, and social and economic classes of the time and place. By using Freud’s Tripartite Psyche, readers may expand on characters like the grandmother and gain a deeper understanding of why characters have certain attitudes or do certain things.
Example #12 – Existential Problems in “a Good Man is Hard to Find”
Existentialism proposed the idea that one is a “free agent” in determining their own development through acts of one’s own free will and self-judgment. In Flannery O’Connor’s “A Good Man is Hard to Find,” existentialist principles are embodied by the Misfit who lives by his own value system and interpretation of morality that influences his decisions, actions, and perspectives in life.
That being said, the term ‘moral’ does not necessarily mean ‘good’ since ‘goodness’ is subjective to an individual’s own moral compass and their view of morality—it is wholly a matter of perspective and how one weighs both ‘good’ and ‘evil.’ Misfit’s own perception of ‘morality’ is merely through his view of what is ‘right,’ but not what is socially accepted as right: his actions are determined based on what ‘feels’ right.
He conceptualizes morality through the view that his punishment is disproportionate to his crime and that committing a crime does not matter because it is a societal construct, as is punishment too. Misfit’s worldview is best understood and interpreted as a fundamentally existentialist one: he defines himself by his free will and does what he wants to do in the realm of his own moral compass, he is interested in the human condition and why societal constructs are the way they are and are intrigued in creating his own essence through his version of justice.
The way Misfit perceives free will is based on what he wants and he feels is ‘right’ at the moment through which he defines his own moral compass. His existentialist view of his life experiences can be encapsulated in the way he “don’t see no sun but don’t see no cloud either” (239). This quote is a metaphor that illustrates his view of how he perceives both ‘crime’ and ‘punishment’ and ‘good’ and ‘evil’ on the spectrum of neutrality rather than a spectrum of binaries; he emphasized neither one nor the either and views both in neutral terms.
Since Misfit identifies with ‘good’ and ‘evil’ based on his own flawed perception of what is moral, he has no control over when he decides to commit a crime or an act of ‘goodness,’ but only when he wants to or ‘feels’ compelled to do so. For instance, in the middle of the narrative, the Misfit requests his henchmen to kill Bailey because the Misfit is ‘angry’ with Bailey’s use of profanity towards the old lady: “The old lady began to cry and The Misfit reddened. ‘Lady,’ he said, ‘don’t you get upset. Sometimes a man says things he doesn’t mean.
I don’t reckon he meant to talk to you thataway’” (238). In this scene, it shows that his moral compass is skewed because he shows some compassion for the old lady, but on the other hand, he encourages Bailey’s expedient execution. The Misfit’s inherent contradictions are further emphasized when his tone is juxtaposed against that of Bailey’s. The Misfit says in a polite, casual way if Bailey “would…mind stepping back in the woods there with the henchmen” while Bailey reacts in a frightened, dumbfounded way, “we’re in a terrible predicament!
Nobody realizes what this is” (239). This juxtaposition serves to underline the Misfit’s even-handed view of life and death as he is about to have Bailey executed, in contrast to Bailey who feels what is at stake in the relationship between life and death as he faces his own mortality. Evidently, the Misfit is fundamentally an existentialist, as he governs himself by the law of his own free will.
As someone who behaves in an existential way, the Misfit wants to understand the constructs of society in order to comprehend his own existence. Throughout the narrative, he delves into the implications of ‘crime’ and punishment,’ ‘good’ and ‘evil,’ and ‘life’ and ‘death’ without holding himself accountable to the social norms of these constructs.
After Bailey is executed, the Misfit describes to the old lady how his own father had once perceived him: “‘My Dad said I was a different breed of dog from my brothers and sisters. ‘You know,’ Daddy said, ‘it’s some that can live their whole life out without asking about it and its others have to know why it is, and his boy is one of the latter. He’s going to be into everything!’”. This quote encapsulates the Misfit’s inherent interest in ‘everything’ to do with the primary elements of the human condition.
Also, the father’s prophecy that the Misfit would ‘be into everything’ rings true in the narrative as the Misfit describes how he “was a gospel singer for a while…been in the arms service, both land, and sea, at home and abroad, been twict married, been an undertaker, been with the railroads, plowed Mother Earth, been in a tornado, seen a man burnt alive onct…even seen a woman flogged’”.
The Misfit has had many diverse life experiences, between which he does not prefer any over the other and he does not attribute any value over the other, whether they are beautiful or horrible, the value is in the experience itself and nothing more. The way the Misfit sees his life experiences is existentialist insofar as ‘life’ and ‘death,’ ‘crime’ and ‘punishment,’ and ‘good’ and ‘evil’ have been played out in front of his eyes and yet, he gains nothing from this except experience.
From all of his experiences, the Misfit’s philosophy is centered around the simple lesson: “‘I found out that crime doesn’t matter. You can do one thing or you can do another, kill a man or take a tire off his car, because sooner or later you’re going to forget what it was you done and just be punished for it’” (241). The Misfit’s belief that ‘crime doesn’t matter’ and that no matter how severe or petty the crime is, the punishment remains the same because fundamentally, he does not believe in the construct of crime so therefore he does not understand the logic of punishment and the reason behind punishment having to ‘fit the crime.
Although the Misfit seems that he has tried to understand societal constructs, he cannot because, in existentialist fashion, he does not have the ability or the desire to understand life in binaries, but only in gray. Like an existentialist, the Misfit seeks to develop his own essence through his need to implement justice in the style he feels urged to, regardless of whether or not it conforms to society.
At the end of the story, the Misfit explains an incongruous idea: “‘…you get you a signature and sign everything you do and keep a copy of it. Then you’ll know what you have done and you can hold up the crime to the punishment and see do they match and in the end, you’ll have something to prove you ain’t being treated right’” (241). For someone who cannot conceptualize reasons to abide by societal constructs, it is contradictory that the Misfit sign everything he does and keeps a copy of it.
This contradiction highlights that the Misfit does understand society’s flawed system which does not always follow the rules it has made. Thus, the Misfit understands that the justice system is also flawed because he feels the need to “check and balance” his own perception of “crime” and “punishment” with society’s view. For the Misfit, “crime” and “punishment” is a matter of perception, which he explores in his allusion to Jesus: “‘Jesus thrown everything off balance.
It was the same case with Him as with me except He hadn’t committed any crime and they could prove I had committed one because they had the papers on me’” (241). This allusion to Jesus illustrates that the Misfit, like Jesus, had no ‘proof’ to defend himself against society’s judgment. The Misfit feels the justice system is fundamentally unfair and has always been so, even to Jesus.
The Misfit, therefore, sees it as his duty to make his own justice because society cannot—in making his own justice, he is creating his own essence. Before he kills the old lady, he pronounces his own essence: “‘I call myself the Misfit…because I can’t make for all I did wrong for what all I went through in punishment’” (241). Labeling himself ‘the Misfit,’ is symbolic of him declaring that he is the master of his own essence, not anybody else.
When he says ‘I can’t make what all I done wrong for what all I went in punishment,’ he is describing how he commits crimes to balance the punishment he has already received. He is so obliged to his own justice that even when he kills the old lady, he sees her as another ‘check and balance’ in his own justice system: “‘It’s no real pleasure in life’” (242). The way the Misfit creates his own essence is his most existentialist quality, as he sees himself as his own bringer of justice without any guidance except his own moral compass.
Overall, the Misfit’s own view of ‘crime’ and ‘punishment,’ ‘good’ and ‘evil,’ and ‘life’ and ‘death’ is that of an existentialist one: he delineates his free will based on what he ‘feels’ is ‘right,’ he wants to understand and create his own existence by comprehending the function of societal constructs as they relate to his own self-determination, and he creates and fulfills his own essence by becoming an executor of justice.
Throughout the narrative, the Misfit has no sense of control when he ‘feels’ like doing ‘good’ or committing ‘evil.’ He does, however, refer to the societal system as to how ‘crime’ and ‘punishment’ is judged, but he is not able to comprehend nor does he want to abide society’s judgment. He does not see ‘good’ and ‘evil’ as opposites on either end of the spectrum but impartial, as creating ‘experiences’ to fulfill his essence is merely dependent on his own moral compass.
Thus, Misfit’s own theory of “check and balance” is a cyclical problem instituted on itself: he establishes his own essence by creating and enacting ‘experiences’ to shape his worldview—he commits crimes he interprets as justice—but he finds no satisfaction, “no real pleasure” in these acts, because to him, “crime” and “punishment” and “good’ and “evil” are not opposed, they are equivalent—equally a matter of perception.
Example #13 – interesting ideas
I need some help with my essay, here are the directions: “The family members surrounding the grandmother in O’ Connor’s A Good Man is Hard to Find are carefully portrayed. Discuss their characterizations and explain how they affect our perceptions of the grandmother.” I’m having trouble because the question asks to focus on the family members, not the grandmother, and their role in the story and affect the reader’s view of the grandmother.
Answer. The girl June Star is silly and vain. “June Star said her hair was naturally curly.” She is the most short-sighted of them all. The boy thinks he is strong and special and fearless and has all the answers–will know just what the secret panel is for and what is there. The father is exasperated and doesn’t much like his wife or children. The mother is caught in the middle, weak, and trying to make peace. She has no sense of how to talk to her own children.
The grandmother is the only one who looks outward and sees the situation in an objective, larger terms. She contrasts with the utter selfishness of the others, although she too is manipulative. The rest of the family can only be shot by the misfit because they have no powers of empathy and can’t reach out to him. They’re just trash to him. The grandmother in desperation tries to use her understanding to crudely manipulate the Misfit, but he is smarter than she is and sees right through her, so he has to be shot too. He represents ultimate judgment in the story, and he lets the grandmother live longer than the others, though not much.
Symbolism, Imagery, Allegory. “Toomsboro” is mentioned (45) as the town the family passes right when the grandmother wakes up to remember the old plantation that isn’t really there. In other words, “Toomsboro” is mentioned right before the family falls into the hands of The Misfit. The word itself sounds like a tomb, so we get some foreshadowing that the family is headed for doom.
Setting. The story takes place in Georgia. We don’t have much in the way of a description of the original setting. This tale begins in a nameless city where the family lives and takes us to various places along the road as the family travels. Plenty of local colors – there are the old plantations that get passed, and Red Sammy’s roadside barbeque joint.
The second half of the story takes place in the ditch in the middle of nowhere where the family lands after running off the road. We’re told the ditch is about ten feet below the road and lies between the road and a “tall and dark and deep” forest. There’s a forest on the other side of the road too, so the forest “looms” menacingly over the scene on both sides. This part of the story is like a stage play: the site of the action doesn’t move, the ditch is the stage, and the forest is “backstage,” where characters are taken. We only learn what’s going happening from the noises people make (usually screams or gunshots).
As for the time, the era of the story is never explicitly defined, but given the cars and the mention of Gone With the Wind (published as a book in 1936 and released as a movie in 1939), we can guess it’s the 1940’s or later. Since there’s no mention of a war going on, and the grandmother says that “the way Europe acted you would think we were made of money” (44), it’s almost certainly after the war, meaning the late ’40s or early ’50s. That would be right about when O’Connor wrote the story (1953) anyway.
The particular timing of the story is a more interesting issue. We know that the family leaves their home in the morning and that they leave Red Sammy’s in the “hot afternoon” (presumably it’s summer). We don’t actually know how late it is, though, when they land in the ditch. The narrator never says it’s night, and the grandmother says it’s a beautiful day. We also know there’s no sun in the sky. Does that mean it’s around sunset?
Narrator Point of View. The story is told in the third person, and it centers singularly on the grandmother. She’s the character we’re told the most about, by far. She’s also the only character whose point of view we can access directly. We get to hear her thoughts and feelings, although we never get too much detail. We are usually given a direct, short summary that leaves a lot of room for imagination on the part of the reader. (That there is room for interpretation with regard to the grandmother’s inner thoughts continues to be a subject of debate).
The only other character who is given comparable attention is The Misfit. Interestingly, we only learn about him through the grandmother’s perspective. After the grandmother is killed, though, there is a brief switch to The Misfit’s perspective (although we don’t get any further into his head). Some early critics really didn’t like this shift in perspective at the end. They claim that O’Connor’s handling of point-of-view is sloppy. On the other hand, if she wanted the story to continue after its main character died, what choice did she have? Besides, the story might be about the beginnings of The Misfit’s transformation as well.
Genre. Southern Gothic, Comedy. O’Connor’s fiction is often called “Southern Gothic,” though she herself rejected that label. many of the elements of “gothic” fiction, or plain old horror, but with a distinctively Southern vibe. There’s a looming sense of darkness, suspense, and foreboding about the story, which is established right at the beginning when the grandmother reads about The Misfit in the newspaper.
Just to make sure we don’t forget about the element of horror, The Misfit is also mentioned at Red Sammy’s. It’s even suggested The Misfit might come to that very place. The scenery – the dirt road in the middle of nowhere that’s supposed to lead to an old plantation house, the looming forests, the family trapped alone in a ditch – could also be right out of a horror movie.
Let’s not forget The Misfit himself, who is a terrifying killer without a conscience. Though we do see what may be the beginnings of a moral transformation at the end of the story. Finally, although there’s not anything obviously “supernatural” in the story (a common but not required element of gothic fiction), there is that potentially supernatural moment of grace.
Plus, the whole sequence of events – ending up in exactly the wrong place because of misplaced memory and a disturbed cat – just feels too convenient for the story to ever actually happen. That lends it a slightly fantastic or unreal aura. O’Connor rejected the label “Southern Gothic” for the same reasons she rejected the idea that her writing was “grotesque” (See “Writing Style” for more on this).
She associated Southern Gothic (which was a label commonly associated with William Faulkner’s work, and the works inspired by it) with fiction that depicted human “degeneracy” in the South, in such a way that it would strike readers almost like a horror story would and at times have an air of something supernaturally dark. Because of O’Connor’s religious perspective, she always emphasized that her work was interested more in the light that could come through in moments of darkness, and was meant to inspire hope and meditation rather than horror or disgust.