A Good Man Is Hard To Find' Summary

I’ve chosen the work of Flannery O’Connor because it deals with especially important problems of modern world. This short story helps to understand the evils of today’s society and reveal weakness of human nature. Flannery O’Connor is an outstanding American writer of the 20th century. She is known as a master of ‘Southern Gothic’, whose works combine realism with absurd. Flannery O’Connor received a well-deserved reward of O’Henry. It is the highest literary award for short stories in the USA. “A Good Man Is Hard To Find” is penetrated with rigidity and religious inspiration. It shows psychological and moral instability of humans. On the one hand it seems to be quite easy for understanding. On the other hand its plot is psychologically and emotionally intensive.

Evils of human nature

Flannery O’Connor managed to combine simple and comic style of writing with psychologically depressive development of the plot. The scene is set in the South of the USA in Georgia. In fact while reading the story, one may never be sure about what would be written next. At first it seems to be a positive family story. But the plot soon radically changes for the worst.

A usual family trip appeared to be their last one. Author’s powerful imagination skillfully creates both happy and violent scenes of family life [3]. The most striking peculiarity is that simplicity of style goes hand in hand with constant emotional strain. Grandmother is shown as a naïve person. She tried to persuade the criminal that he was a Good Man [1]. Till the very end Grandmother wanted to trust him and believed in his inner kindness. In spite of his immoral actions she steadily believed that he might change for the best. His further actions however reveal true evil of human nature.

Religious motifs

At first the story doesn’t seem to be religious at all. Then it gradually reveals that catholic faith penetrates its whole plot. In order to understand the story it is important to consider it from religious point of view in the first place. Faithful grandmother stayed with God till the very end. She prayed at the time her son and grandchildren were shot in the forest. Along with this she desperately appealed to the criminal’s conscience and demanded justice. The story shows disappointment in human beings. As we know Jesus believed in human virtue, saying there were no bad people at all [3]. But life changes and nowadays it’s hard to take such words for truth. World is full of evil and violence.

What is a Good Man?

The statement that it’s hard to find a good man is based on humanistic understandings. Author clearly shows that a Good Man has to possess certain moral qualities. Red Sam, an owner of the café where the whole family stopped for lunch, complained of dishonest behavior of quests. Recently he lent petrol to some strangers who never came back since then. Actually people never expect dishonesty in response to kind attitude. A person is always naïve to believe that he will not be deceived. However a truthful proverb says: one ought to know when one is well off. Red Sam was a Good Man. Probably for this reason he was so easy to deceive [1]. His personal experience finally taught him that nobody ought to be trusted. “It’s hard to find a good man”, - said Red Sam. In the past people’s life was more secure. It was normal to leave doors open at night [2]. Flannery O’Connor tried to emphasize that times and people have gradually changed. And nowadays people suffer from fraud and dishonesty, and at the same time learn to be careful and suspicious.

In conclusion I’d like to say that Flannery O’Connor proved to be a master of psychological novel. Her story reveals human violence and weakness. The story is valuable for general public as it makes them think over serious problems of modern world. It deals with human immorality and shows how unpredictable and unimaginable our destiny can be.


Melvil J. Friedman, Beverly Lyon Clark. Hall, 1985. Critical Essays on Flannery O’Connor.

Flannery O’Connor. London University Press, 1988. Collected Works. Edited by Sally Fitzgerald.

Studies in Short Fiction: Book reviews. 2004. A Good Man Is Hard To Find by Flannery O’Connor. http://www.findarticles.com

07 September 2020
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