Matt Chih Chi Kao
Professor Margaret Shearer
June 1, 2013
"A Good Man is Hard to Find" Research Paper
"A Good Man is Hard to Find" is a short story written by Flannery O'Connor, a significant American writer and essayist. Her writing style reflects the ethnic relation in the South and her own Christian faith. The author writes in third person limited point of view to portray the tragic journey of a family who lived in Georgia in 1953. Bailey wants to take his family to Florida, but his mother, "the grandmother" disagrees with him because there's a dangerous criminal named The Misfit who is also on the way to Florida. Bailey ignores the grandmother's concern and headed to Florida. On the road, The kids and the grandmother persuade Bailey to drive them to the see a plantation which the grandmother visited when she was a lady. Unfortunately, the family gets into an accident on the desolate dust road to the plantation. The only thing the family can do is to wait for help, and it turns out that their help is none other than The Misfit and his buddies. The Misfit orders his buddies to take all the family members except the grandmother into the wood and shoot them. Hopelessly, the grandmother calls The Misfit her child and wants to touch him on the shoulder, but this angers The Misfit. As a result, he shoots the grandmother three times on the chest. The author uses characterization, foreshadowing, and irony to illustrate the theme that the tendency to manipulate people's actions and thoughts may introduce tragic outcomes to the love ones. In the short story "A Good Man is Hard to Find" , the author applies both direct characterization and indirect characterization to exhibit the selfishness of the grandmother, the innocence of the children, and the wickedness of The Misfit . In the exposition of the story, the grandmother wants to go to Tennessee to visit her connections instead going to Florida, so she tells Bailey that he " ought to take [the kids] somewhere else for a change so they would see different parts of the world and be board. They have never been to east Tennessee" (O'Connor 403). From this quote the readers can perceive that the grandmother is good at manipulating her son by saying that going to Tennessee can be beneficial to the kids in order to achieve her own purpose. She also mentions that The Misfit is also on the way to Florida and she "couldn't answer to [her] conscience" (O'Connor 402) if she brings the kids to Florida. In this quote, the grandmother uses the word "conscience" to threat Bailey with the idea that he is going to put his children in danger, so he would give up the trip to Florida. In Katherine Keil's article "O'Connor's 'Good Man is Hard to Find'", Katherine analyzes "A Good Man is Hard to Find" and comments that "the grandmother shows her indifference for creation by selfishly manipulating and nagging to get her way on the family's vacation "(Keil 45). Keil's analysis is reasonable because through the interactions between the grandmother and other family members on the issue about the family trip, the grandmother is used to manipulate people's decisions by taking advantage of the vulnerable side of people's mind and being selfish without knowing it herself. The kids, John Wesley and June Star, are innocent compare to their selfish grandmother. After the family encounter The Misfit in the country, John Wesley notices that The Misfit is holding a gun, so he asks him: "'What you got that gun for?"'(O'Connor 410). Under this kind of circumstance, probably most of the people would be quiet in order to avoid trouble, but John Wesley mentions the gun just because he is simply curious. Unfortunately, his inquiry brings The Misfit into action, and results in tragedy. Although The Misfit is not present until the final pages of the story, he influences the story from the exposition of the story when the grandmother tells Bailey that he flees from the prison, and is on the way...
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