Summary Of A Good Man Is Hard To Find

I’d like to present my summary and character analysis of the short story by Flannery O’Connor. The story under consideration is entitled “A good man is hard to find,” it was published in 1953.

To start with, I want to say some words about the author. Flannery O’Connor (1925 - 1964) is considered to be one of the greatest and most popular fiction writers of the twentieth century. She was educated at the Peabody Laboratory School and at the School For Writers at the University of Iowa, where she received a scholarship in journalism. She wrote novels about religious themes but was known worldwide for her short fiction stories.

The horror-fiction story “A good man is hard to find” is told in past tense from a narrow third-person perspective, focusing almost entirely on the grandmother’s opinion. The main idea of the story covers the contradictory issue of defining a good man. In the first place, the author introduces the reader to the quarreling family going to Florida on vacation. Grandmother with children convince Bailey to visit an old plantation, and the whole family gets into a crash, caused by the cat. Accidentally, they meet an escaped criminal and the trip as well as the story ends in the murder of all family members, ironically, except grandmother’s cat.

It is clear that the main characters of the story are the grandmother and the escaped convict, calling himself the Misfit. Flannery O’Connor presents the grandmother as a self-righteous old woman, rather judgemental and selfish personality. She poses herself the real ‘lady’ and considers herself morally superior to all other people. This is exactly reflected in her constantly repeated phrases, as like “I know you wouldn’t shoot a lady!” (O’Connor 510) or “You wouldn’t shoot a lady, would you?” (O’Connor 507).

Abundantly clear, the elderly woman is not the person she appears to be. Moreover, the central character of the story is unnamed by the author to point the extent to what the grandmother is actually shallow. The author notes how judgemental and selfish grandmother is from the very begining of the story. When she had got to know that a violent criminal escaped and was heading to Florida as well, she wasn’t concerned about the safety of her family. This proves the fact that the grandmother suggested their decision to go to Florida and “was the first one in the car, ready to go” (O’Connor 501). Moreover, the grandmother didn’t rule out the possibility that they may face the Misfit. Therefore, the old woman had dressed very particularly for that occasion. The reader can see her selfishness through her attempt to be good-looking even in case an accident occurs, and people will discover her corpse. Being self-centered, grandmother wanted everybody to “know at once that she was a lady” rather than to persuade her family members not to travel that fatal weekend at all.

Additionally, I’d like to mention that the grandmother was not only judgemental towards everybody but also very manipulative. She tried to her son, Bailey, as well as his wife to feel guilty about taking the children on that risky destination. The old woman was often critical of all members of her family. I will venture to affirm that such grandmother’s behavior was an expression of her internal desire to feel needed and valuable. Respectively, all her critical remarks and attempts to engage with the family led to little interest of family members “Afraid she’d miss something. She has to go everywhere we go.” (O’Connor 501) and minor respect for her, “She wouldn’t stay at home to be the queen for a day.” (O’Connor 501). The author shows disrespect towards grandmother in response to her constant censure by writing that “June Star said without raising her yellow head” (O’Connor 501).

It should be highlighted that only the threat of death has changed the grandmother. Under this extreme circumstance, grandmother’s sudden religious epiphany allowed her to reclaim the good within herself. From my point of view, the Misfit’s phrase “...if it had been somebody there to shoot her every minute of her life.” (O’Connor 511) is rather symbolic as it proves that only the threat of death made the grandmother reclaim her inner loving kindness. Through the criminal’s words, “every minute of her life” (O’Connor 511) the author wanted to show the reader that the grandmother could have been living a good life every single day. Unfortunately, the true insight of the moment and awareness of the sense of life lived came to the main character just before the cold embrace of death.

Finally, I’d like to emphasize that this story teaches us to value the dearest ones every single moment as life is too short to wait. Wish you woun’t ever feel that bitter taste of regret.

29 April 2022
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