Ambiguity in O'Connor

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Ambiguity in ‘A Good Man is Hard to Find'

In most short stories ambiguity is used to some extent. The level of ambiguity in each story varies, however the importance and value of that vagueness does not. Ambiguity often leads to elevating the thought put into reading the text, as well as numerous interpretations. In Flannery O'Connor's short story, ‘A Good Man is Hard to Find', the ambiguous theme causes both deeper thought and different opinions about the text. Through the characters in the story, the reader can reflect on the recurring theme which poses the question of what makes a person good.

Ambiguity in short stories is common and can be used in many different ways by the author. Flannery O'Connor uses ambiguity in the theme of her story, ‘A Good Man is Hard to Find'. Throughout the entire story the notion of ‘a good man' continues to arise. While the characters in the story dwell on the idea of a good man, it is never clear what makes a man good. Adding to the vagueness of the theme is each characters interpretation of the term ‘good man'. The grandmother seems to have an old-fashioned outlook, always speaking highly of the people in past times. At one point in the story she is preaching to her grandchildren, "In my time, children were more respectful…" implying that people are less considerate and polite presently than in the past. Later in the story she is conversing with a restaurant owner, Red Sammy, and states that "People are certainly not nice like they used to be," again implying that people of the past were better than the people of today. However the grandmother's view of a good man is not the standard used by others in the story. During the conversation at the restaurant, the grandmother explains that she believes Red Sammy is a good man. This perception evidently is not shared completely by Red Sammy's wife. Sammy's wife claims, "It isn't a soul in this green world of God's that you can trust. And I don't count nobody out...
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