Good vs. Evil in “a Good Man Is Hard to Find”

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Good vs. Evil in “A Good Man is Hard to Find” Flannery O’Connor shows her readers a realistic look at their own mortality in “A Good Man is Hard to Find.” The story is about a family of five, a father, mother, grandmother, and two children, starting out on a vacation to Florida from Georgia. The family, on their way to a routine vacation, takes a detour that will change their lives forever. Through the use of literary elements like symbolism and characterization, O’Connor creates a theme of good vs. evil, which can be felt throughout the story by tapping into the audience’s emotions.
How does one characterize good and evil? Throughout time, people have asked this question and only received opinions based on references from religious works, such as The Holy Bible. “A good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things: and an evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth evil things” (Matthew 12:34). In other words, a good man does good things, and an evil man does evil things. Using characterization, O’Connor personifies the grandmother as good and The Misfit as evil. Although there are grey areas, readers are able to discern which character is which. The grandmother is characterized as a good person and a lady that does the right thing according to the standards of her time. She seems to treat goodness mostly as a function of being decent, having good manners, and coming from a family of "good blood” (O’Connor 454). Before leaving for vacation, the grandmother donned her finest apparel, so she would look like a lady, or, in her eyes, a good person (O’Connor 446). The grandmother’s portrayal of good makes her flawed, just like every other human being, which draws in the reader by making the character relatable. Everyone has their own flaws. The Misfit is used as a foil character to the grandmother, helping to disclose “by contrast [her] distinctive qualifications” (“Character” 127). By characterizing The Misfit as a



Cited: “Character.” The Bedford Introduction to Literature. Ed. Michael Meyer. 8th ed. Boston: Bedford, 2008. 123-43. Print Desmond, John. "Flannery O 'Connor 's misfit and the mystery of evil." Renascence: Essays on Values in Literature 56.2 (2004). Literature Resource Center. Web. 5 Nov. 2012. <http://ezproxy.sccsc.edu:2084/ps/retrieve.do?sgHitCountType=None&sort=RELEVANCE&inPS=true&prodId=LitRC&userGroupName=spartechcl&tabID=T001&searchId=R5&resultListType=RESULT_LIST&contentSegment=&searchType=BasicSearchForm&currentPosition=2&contentSet=GALE%7CA112542876&&docId=GALE|A112542876&docType=GALE&role=LitRC> Kahane, Claire. "Flannery O 'Connor 's Range of Vision." Flannery O 'Connor, Bloom 's Major Short Story Writers (1985): 123-24. Blooms Literary Reference Online. Facts On File. Web. 5 Nov 2012. <http://www.fofweb.com/activelink2.asp?ItemID=WE54&SID=5&iPin= BMSSFO14&SingleRecord=True.> O’Connor, Flannery. “A Good Man is Hard to Find.” The Bedford Introduction to Literature. Ed. Michael Meyer. 8th ed. Boston: Bedford, 2008. 445-55. Print “Symbolism.” The Bedford Introduction to Literature. Ed. Michael Meyer. 8th ed. Boston: Bedford, 2008. 270-71. Print The Holy Bible Containing the Old and New Testaments in the King James Version. Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1984. Print.

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