A Literary Analysis on Flanner O'Connor's “A Good Man is Hard to Find” Written by ShaLynn M. Andrews
Flannery O'Connor's short story, “A Good Man is Hard to Find” is about a Georgia family on their way to Florida for a vacation and the day ending in disaster and murder. The story opens with the grandmother, also being the main character, trying to convince her son, Bailey, not to go to Florida; she had just read an article about a recently escaped convict, the Misfit, who was supposedly heading to Florida. The next morning, the family, including the grandmother, her son, her son's wife, their baby and two kids, along with the grandmother’s cat, leave for the vacation. Shortly into the story, the family stops for something to eat at Red Sammy's Barbeque. There the grandmother has a conversation with the owner about the changing times and with the owner stating “A good man is hard to find”. Meaning that a “good man”, an honest, hardworking, gentlemen is no longer common. The seemingly comical events of the day turn disastrously when the grandmother upsets the cat, causing the family to wreck. Shortly after, the Misfit, accompanied by two other men arrives. The grandmother recognizes him instantly and as a result, brings about death to the entire family, even after trying to reason with him. According to a biographical article, “Thematically, the story concerns religious hypocrisy, faith and doubt, and social and spiritual arrogance” (Shackelford, 5). This novel is about a search for a 'good man' among no apparent candidates and the goodness of God. In saying that, O'Connor's short story uses symbolism, character and third person view to show the battle between good and evil and how it surpasses any religious point of view. In order to understand the point stated above, one must understand the author, who she was and what was important in her writings. Flannery O'Connor was born in Georgia as an only child and lived a relatively uneventful and short life. In college, she majored in sociology and English; and in 1947, she received a masters degree in fine arts. She was sickly for most of her life and even though she died in 1964 of kidney failure caused by a long-suffering case of lupus, she continued to write. Friends and acquaintances admired her for her wit, intelligence, and her sharpness of tongue but most importantly, her courage. “Throughout her life, O'Connor remained faithful to her Catholic and Christian beliefs” (Shackelford, 4) and because of her strong faith, she was able to vent through humorously and self-mockingly writing about her illness and did not fear death. Many of O'Connor's stories concern a “proud protagonist, usually a woman” who is boastful about her own abilities and their “Christian goodness”. According to O'Connor, “her stories are about the action of grace in territory held largely by the devil” and points out that the most important part of her stories is the moment or “action of grace”. The grandmother is portrayed as a being of good, however according to Christian beliefs, pride and arrogance is the Original Sin, the greatest evil, and the cause of the Great Fall. The grandmother isn't really good because she is prideful, boastful, judgmental and manipulative, so is she still good? The Misfit is seen as evil for the decisions he has made. But the Misfit isn't really evil; confused, lost or maybe even sick, but evil? What makes a person good or evil? Does knowing and making a wrong decision make a person evil? Or is it the level of evil of a decision? It doesn't matter what the choice, whether it be adultery, robbery, pride and arrogance or murder, people have a choice to do right or wrong (good or evil) no matter the level of evil, or the amount of wrong it is. The battle between good and evil is more than just religious aspect; it’s a daily choice all people are met with. In the short story “A Good Man is Hard to Find”, after the death of the grandmother's entire family and facing death...
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