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A Good Man Is Hard to Find

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I think that Flannery O’Connor’s short story “A Good Man is Hard to Find” is written partially in order to convert people who have not yet fully accepted the Christian faith. O’Conner, having a strong upbringing and solid Christian background, wrote this story believing it would help people who do not have a strong moral base and Christian convictions to seriously making the necessary changes. Flannery O'Connor showed deep concern towards the value system of the youth at the time. She firmly believed in helping to guide the youth in a positive direction. Her belief that Christ was no longer a major priority to the people of her generation was a driving motivation. "A Good Man is Hard to Find" shows Flannery O'Connor's concern for the priorities and values of her time.

One example shown in "A Good Man is Hard to Find" involves the grandmother's strong southern heritage. She dresses with the intention that if something should happen and she was found dead on the road, anyone that found her would certainly know she was a lady. She also was always telling stories of southern gentlemen courting her. At the end, the Misfit, whom the grandmother knows is of quality southern blood, shoots her and her family despite her belief in southern hospitality. The grandmother is seen as a woman who believes in God during her encounter with the Misfit, but we see early on in the story that her belief isn’t very strong through all the lying and deceitfulness she continues in. Not until her confrontation with the Misfit, do wee see her become so passionate about her faith.

From what I understand of Flannery O’Connor, most of her works follow a similar pattern. The main character or characters in her stories are usually in some kind of trouble. Not until the end of each story, are they seen to have convictions and be interested in change through the Christian faith. Her characters never seem to find their redemption until they find God at the end. People of Christian faith have often criticized O’Connor’s works for being immoral, but in actuality, she writes about these extreme situations and portrayals of wrongdoing to express the power of God in a positive light. O’Connor both gracefully and skillfully shows the immoral character of the Misfit as well as the enlightened character of the grandmother. The characters in “A Good Man is Hard to Find” evolve through a sort of metamorphosis. There are changes that occur in their views of the world and their perceptions about life and death. In this body of work, we see those changes occur in the Grandmother and in the Misfit. The Misfit is shown to be constantly experiencing a deep inner struggle with his own convictions. We see this clearly in his conversation with the Grandmother. O’Conner’s skillful portrayal of the Misfit helps the reader to detect some obscure details of his behavior. These details, his gestures, his speech, and his thoughts are key elements in determining the Misfit’s state of mind. We see the grandmother become timid over the course of the story. She seems to have some type of identity crisis. Starting off bold and confident, we see the Grandmother very humble and timid by the end. Her ideas of what she should look like and how she should talk no longer mattered. O’Connor also shows that the Grandmother’s idea of a southern gentleman was not considered accurate when viewing the Misfit.

It is possible, in some strange way, that the Misfit represents a new generation of young people who have been religiously misguided. The Grandmother symbolizes an old generational perspective, which has grown somewhat distanced from religion. Some people have viewed this writing as a take on the missionary concept. This concept often involves the conversion of one to a stronger faith in God. There is also a form of conversion of the reader by the author. My thoughts are that Flannery O’Connor had hopes of provoking her readers to greater thought and helping them reconsider their own spiritual convictions and ideals.

I felt like “A Good Man is Hard to Find” was an exceptionally written short story that contained thought provoking content. This content could easily cause a reader to become tense with and anxiety as well as the considerations of a change to the Christian faith. Based on my knowledge of some of O’Connor’s other works, the ending was not much of a surprise, but it still had the effect I believe she was looking for. The plot may be a little weak, but overall, this is an interesting piece of work that could be enjoyed by all readers.

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