A Good Man Is Hard to Find - 4

Topics: Good and evil, Flannery O'Connor, A Good Man Is Hard to Find Pages: 5 (1874 words) Published: November 14, 2012
A Good Man is Hard to Find
Many people struggle with the idea of what it means to be a “good” person and what it means to be a “bad” person. The human quest to be good drives virtually everything we do but sometimes in the end may not amount to enough. We all want to be good, but it's not easy. If you ask an evil person and a good person the same question, "Are you a good person?" Who do you think is more likely to say yes, the good person or the evil person? Everyone has their own opinion about certain issues, and they depend on their values, judgment, and beliefs to see them through their difficulties. Flannery O’Connor, an American writer, was quoted as saying "I see from the standpoint of Christian orthodoxy. This means the meaning of life is centered in our Redemption by Christ and that what I see in the world I see in relation to that" (Contemporary Authors 402). In the short story "A Good Man is Hard to Find," Flannery O’ Connor illustrates her argument of good and evil through a grandmother who struggles with her own insincere sense of goodness, and the Misfit who represents evil. Only true goodness illuminates when in the face of something bad. In the story a character who views herself as good comes to realize that this goodness that she believes she has cannot protect against the works of evil. I Analysis of a Good Man

O’Connor paints her own picture of what the grandmother believes to be a “good man.” The grandmother seems to treat goodness mostly as a function of being decent, having good manners, and coming from a family of "the right people." At the beginning of the story the grandmother discusses a story of her past love explaining how he was the most upright gentleman she met, claiming he too was a “good man.” She stated “he was a very good- looking man and a gentleman and that he brought her watermelon every Sunday afternoon with his initials cut in it, E.A.T.” (O’Connor 98). The grandmother was unique in the way she described people who were known as “good people,” mainly because they were only known to be “good” if it involved her. She also describes Red Sammy as a “good man” due to the fact that he gave out free gas. O’Connor’s aim is to show that the grandmother is not sincere in the way she labels people. The grandmother is only trying to be “good” herself, when in actuality she tries to use it to her advantage without knowing what it means to be “good.” The grandmother considers herself to be a good “lady.” She wants to look like a lady in case that if she dies during her trip, she would be seen and remembered as a “lady.” “The grandmother had on a navy blue straw sailor hat with a bunch of white violets on the brim and a navy blue dress... ‘Her collar and cuffs were white organdy trimmed with lace and her neckline she had pinned a purple spray of cloth violets containing a sachet. In the case of an accident, anyone seeing her dead on the highway would know at once that she was a lady.’” (O’Connor 98) So what does being a lady mean for the grandmother? As you can see in the clothes she wears, it’s in part a matter of appearance, of looking nice and being respected. According to the grandmother, being "good" amounts to coming from the right people and behaving as a lady or as a gentleman should behave. In her own mind, the grandmother is certainly a "good person," as are all people of her social class. II Paradox of Good and Bad

O’Connor continues to illustrate that though people may believe they are “good people” they too can misjudge their own actions. O’Connor uses the grandmother as a symbolism for the wrong type of good. The grandmother is characterized as a woman with good intentions but lacks true goodness. At the beginning of the story O’Connor uses some examples to show in actuality that the grandmother’s behavior resembles selfishness. She claims that she is a "good" person, yet she criticizes everyone and always needs to get her way. First, she hides...
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