The theme “A good man is hard to find” is the main idea of the short story written by Flannery O’Connor in 1953 year. In this piece of literature, the author describes a situation from the perspective of the main character, which is a Grandmother.
In her work, an American novelist describes the Grandmother as not being a good person whose mistakes have led to the murder of her and all her family by an escaped criminal. In the story, the Grandmother unsuccessfully tries to persuade a killer that he is a man of honor who will not hurt anyone. It is crucial to emphasize that not all the readers may agree with this view on the theme of a good person being hard to find in Flannery O’Connor’s short story. This essay argues that a man of honor is hard to find because some people cannot find the courage to change.
The Grandmother was sure that good actions are the result of being a good person from the moment of birth but regrated this immediately before the death. Banna (4) claims that “The Grandmother demonstrates racial and class prejudice through her words and actions. She is vain and selfish, and she believes that good character is a result of coming from “good people,” an important concept in O’Connor’s fiction.” Therefore, despite the fact that the Grandmother tried to save her family by persuading the criminal to be a man of honor by his birth, she lived her whole life with different prejudices.
She discriminated against children of other races and social classes during the last trip. She was ready to change only some moments before the death when she said to the killer: “You’re one of my own children!” (O’Connor 13). On the one hand, this statement may show that the Grandmother admitted the mistakes she made during her lifetime. On the other hand, it demonstrates an attempt to wake up the criminal’s honor and good nature.
The Grandmother was highly nostalgic about the past, continually complaining about her present. It is noted by Sezen (38): “Red Sammy is a very similar character to Grandmother. They both understand each other immediately and share their complaints about this crazy new world.” The main difference between them lies in their attitude towards the present times: Red Sammy thought about the past times more positively, remembering kind people’s actions.
At the same time, the Grandmother tends to contrast the past with her present, emphasizing the idea that the world has gone crazy. Through this opposition between the two characters, O’Connor demonstrates the theme that a good person is hard to find. This is true because people have different attitudes towards the same situation: some perceive it in a positive way, and others with complaints.
Summing all written above, one should conclude that the theme of a good man is described by O’Connor by putting the Grandmother as the main character of the short story. On the one hand, the high value of being a good person is demonstrated by the opposition between an escaped criminal and the Grandmother regarding their prejudices and unwillingness to change. On the other hand, this theme is shown through the Grandmother’s similarity with the Red Sammy in terms of their complaints about the modern world and nostalgia for the past. Thus, a man of honor is indeed hard to find because some people cannot find the courage to change attitudes toward others; however, all readers may have different this point of view regarding the discussed theme.
O’Connor, Flannery. A Good Man Is Hard To Find. The Avon Book of Modern Writing, 1953. Web.
Banna, Menna. A Good Man Is Hard to Find, 2002, Academia. Web.
Sezen, Ismail. Humor And Grotesque In Flannery O’Connor’s A Good Man Is Hard To Find. International Journal of Education & Philology, 2020, pp. 35-39.