“A Good Man Is Hard to Find” by Flannery O’Connor

Subject: Literature
Pages: 3
Words: 817
Reading time:
3 min
Study level: Undergraduate

Literature is a type of art that contains many other different sides of people’s life. Reading any book, people are looking for some relaxation; they want to leave everyday routine life and to appear in another world, full of some advantages and unpredictable situations. People are looking for some answers in the book, or sometimes even ask questions after the book has already been read.

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The author is sure that the works of writers should be closely connected with his/her biographies, so we may find some aspects of biography in the works of O’Connor. When an author writes the story he/she takes the entire plot through himself. The short story we are going to describe is Flannery O’Connor’s “A good man is hard to find”.

The short story “A good man is hard to find” is written in the third person but the telling is always surrounded by the grandmother. The family, grandmother, her son with wife, two children, and infant, are going on vacation in Florida.

Grandmother wants to visit her friends in Tennessee and wants to control his son and asks him to refuse the Florida vacation. She finds some newspaper article about the killer who is going to Florida and tries to convince her son about the Florida vacation. She also makes some other attempts to prevent the journey, “seizing at every chance to change Bailey’s mind.” (O’Connor 2000). Even though she was against the vocation, she is the first who sits in the car. The episode depicts the grandmother’s desire to know everything, to control her family, and to give her appreciation to all. She takes the cat in the car despite the son’s forbiddance.

Going to Florida, grandmother recollects in her mind the nearly abandoned plantation, which she wants to visit. The children are interested, the grandmother is insisting and they turn to an unknown path. Going further and further, grandmother understands that she was mistaken and they had to return. She releases the cat from the hidden place which becomes the cause of the accident: the son is losing control of the car.

To avoid the son’s quarrel with her she complains about some internal injuries and becomes a victim of the situation. Grandmother’s actions lead to the tragedy: the killer is going to appear on their way.

The car is going in their direction and grandmother recognizes the murderer, Mistif, a man she was reading about in the newspaper. She was shocked, she understood that it was an end, but she was trying to do all she could only to save her life, not the lives of her son or grandchildren, she worried only about herself.

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Christianity is one of the main subjects of the story. Grandmother wants to look like a devoted Christian; she builds her life on this principle. But in reality, she is not as faithful to God as she wants to look. Even before their death, she worries only about her life. It may come to mind that at the end of the story grandmother understood the mistake of her false faith. It seems that she realized that she was mistaken and wants to correct her life principles; she wants to confess her sins. But all these statements are false. Even at that moment, she was thinking only about her life, by such thoughts she hoped to save her life.

Trying to save her life, grandmother calls for family feelings in the killer. She tells him that he looks like her son. Mistie is already thinking about a new life where he is known as “Bill”, where the mother is near and the life is great. But it did not save her, Mistif kills her. Grandmother by her touch takes back Mistif from his thoughts and he kills her with three shots.

The style of O’Connor’s writing is usually called grotesque as “the human spirit and how it related to God and vice versa was always her main concern” (Reuben). The DiYanni text tells us, “O’Connor’s stories are suggestive of the southern gothic tradition of storytelling in which engaging, violent, and frequently grotesque characters are often treated with colloquial humor” (DiYanni 2007).

The author concludes Mistif that “grandmother would have been a good woman… if it had been somebody there to shoot her every minute of her life” and that “it is no real pleasure in life” (O’Connor 2000).

The story is written humorously although violence is described. The story gives moral lessons: people should not be so indifferent to others. People always become to think over their lives when they are in danger. Only when the death is so close do they realize that their life was not as faithful and trusted as they would want, they understand that it is too much to change and even at the last moment try to convince everybody that they would change everything if they had a chance.

Works Cited

DiYanni, Robert. Literature: Reading Fiction, Poetry, and Drama. McGraw-Hill, 2007.

O’Connor, Flannery. A Good Man Is Hard to Find. Rutgers University Press, 2000.

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Reuben, Paul P. “Chapter 10: Flannery O’Connor.” PAL: Perspectives in American Literature- A Research and Reference Guide. Web.