The Genre of Southern Gothic in "A Good Man Is Hard to Find"

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“When you cross the sweeping drama of romance with the macabre isolation of small town life-and then throw in a touch of Southern whimsy-you’ve cooked up a collection of American literature absolutely unique in time, place, and sentiment, Southern gothic.” Southern gothic comes from the genre of gothic fiction, and has some type of supernatural or unusual events in it. It is characterized as having a grotesque quality yet still having enough good in it to keep readers interested. The short story, “A Good Man is Hard to Find” by Mary Flannery O’Connor, is often considered a perfect example of Southern gothic writing.

In “A Good Man is Hard to Find”, O’Connor has characters typical of Southern gothic. Characters in this genre are “riddled with many broken bodies, and even more broken souls”. It contemplates innocence, and whether or not anyone really is ever innocent. The grandmother in “A Good Man is Hard to Find” is a religious woman who goes to church every sunday and on the surface appears to be completely innocent. However, in reality she is completely self-centered, racist, and a bigot. She believes that whether or not a person is good is based on where they came from, what their parents are like, and their social standing in the community, not on their actions. Throughout the story it becomes apparent that she does not think before she acts and she takes pleasure in other people’s suffering. “The grandmother shrieked. She scrambled to her feet and stood staring. ‘You’re The Misfit!‘ she said. ‘I recognized you at once’”(O’Connor 1037) The grandmother said this without thinking about what she was saying and caused the families death. Her actions show that she likes to gossip and wanted to let everyone know that she was well informed on the situation. “Did you read about that criminal, the Misfit, that’s escaped?” (O’Connor 1034) The grandmother brings this up right away when they stop for food at Red Sammy’s, wanting to gossip about it and...
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