A Good Man is Hard to Find

Topics: Social class, Short story, Flannery O'Connor Pages: 5 (1397 words) Published: September 26, 2014
ENG 110
A Good Man is Hard to Find, First Draft
A Good Man is Hard to Find" by Flannery O'Connor is a short story that depicts a family road trip to Florida that ends in an abysmal tragedy when they meet the Misfit, a remorseless convict who has escaped from prison. In the beginning, the Grandmother is obsessed with everything worldly and superficial. She is completely focused on herself in relation to how others think of her. Towards the end of the story, the grandmother finds herself in ominous dialogue with The Misfit. In the story, The Misfit represents a quasi-final judgment. He does this by acting like a mirror. He lets whatever The Grandmother says bounce right off him. He never agrees nor disagrees with the grandmother, and in the end, he is the one who kills her. At the end of the story, before the Grandmother meets her fate, she has a moment of redemption. She finally distinguishes The Misfit for who he really is, not a psychopathic killer on the loose; but a person just like herself. The Misfit, being a man who is not created from social class; he is a simple human being just like the grandmother. At this point she sees herself in relation to everyone else. She finally realizes that she is not made by her class. Society makes the class, and she just fits into it. She shows this by claiming that The Misfit could be one of her own children. This story is meant to be interpreted as a parable, whereby O'Connor made skilful use of symbolism to bring about messages such as the social-superiority and the lack of spiritual faith that exist amongst common people; and the grace in humans is exposed, only when facing adverse and fatal circumstances.

O'Connor makes use of symbolism through her characters to represent an abstraction of social-superiority, an idea of self awareness of one's place in a system of social classes. The issues of this, class-consciousness, were brought up through the distinctive character of the grandmother, who is the protagonist of the story. On the surface, we see the characteristics of the grandmother portrayed as a "good" woman, having faith and trust in God and doing right in her life. However, sin lies within her own soul, whereby neglectfully believes she is better than others that surround her. Viewing appearance and self-image as important, which is reflected through her refinement, the grandmother wears white cotton gloves, straw sailor hat with a bunch of white violets on the brim, navy blue dress with a small white dot in the print and the collars and cuffs were white organdy trimmed with lace. Through attire, the grandmother implies that people who looked at her will know that she is a respectable and noble lady. Repetitive use of the color “white” is symbolic as it reflects the way the grandmother perceives and associates herself with flawlessness, decency, and purity. “she had pinned a purple spray of cloth violets containing a sachet. In case of an accident, anyone seeing her dead on the highway would know at once she was a lady.” (p.498) This quote, from the short story, also foreshadows the incident that unfold with the Misfit at the end of the story. The grandmother also predicts that she would have done well if she had married Mr. Teagarden, "a gentleman and had bought Coca-Cola stock when it first came out and that he had died only a few years ago, a very wealthy man” (p.500). This clearly shows the grandmother's superior self-image by associating wealth with upper class citizens. In contrast, while June Star notices the black child who lacks “britches,” the grandmother states that the blacks did not have things like the whites do, suggesting that blacks were an inferior people that lived in poverty, in the presents of her grandchildren. “He probably didn’t have any,” the grandmother explained. “Little niggers in the country don’t have things like we do.” We see how the grandmother fails to treat the blacks equally as human, entirely based on their social...
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