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The short story of Flannery O’Connor, “A Good Man Is Hard to Find” is arguably one of her best literary works.
The story presents the passive view of the writer about the outcome of the life. Like many other works of the writer, this particular story also exhibits her deep religious insight and its application in her works effectively to emphasize on the place of religious thought in one’s way of life. The short story also projects O’Connor’s masterly use of local color and the local dialect. The short story, hence, illustrates O’Connor’s excellent craft of characterization and evolving that character to extract a truth about life.
A Good Man Is Hard to Find Summary
A Good Man Is Hard to Find by Flannery O’Connor opens in the household with a discussion of planning a tour to Florida. The characters of the story are gradually introduced afterwards; the main one being the grandmother. She lives in the house with her son Bailey and his wife, along with their two children. The most hated character of the story, the Misfit gang, is introduced later. The grandmother reads about the escape of the heinous Misfit gang from the federal jail and about the impending danger that may arise from them. Hence, the Grandmother insists on going to Tennessee instead of Florida. The tour is decided to be towards Florida. The next day, on the way in the car, Grandmother thinks about an old plantation, a little past a place called Toomsboro. The detour taken after the Grandmother ignites the desire of the children by telling them a false story about a hidden gate will eventually meet the car with an accident. At this moment Misfit arrives at the place in a car and Grandmother recognizes them. This very recognition will consequently lead to the death of the whole family.
A Good Man Is Hard to Find Themes
A Good Man Is Hard to Find by Flannery O’Connor contains a wide number of themes to effectively convey the message of the moment to the readers of the work. As supported by Ryan et al. (85-109), themes in are recurrent concepts of a literary work. Through the identification of the themes of a story, the readers can easily get to the core of the writing and successfully critically evaluate the literary work. The most recurrent themes of O’Connor’s stories are death, loss and mortality. These themes are vividly dealt in most of her writings. Speaking about the themes in A Good Man Is Hard to Find story, death among these themes takes the primary place.
Theme of Death in A Good Man Is Hard to Find
The most effective theme of A Good Man Is Hard to Find by O’Connor which registers its presence in the minds of the readers is death. The most dangerous revelation of modern life is discovering a sudden violence in the hands of unknown assailants and facing the death hence. In the opinion of Jockers et al. (750-769), a notable aspect of Flannery O’Connor’s writings is the omnipotent demonstration of death throughout the life of her characters. From the very commencement of the short story, the theme of death in A Good Man Is Hard to Find has been dominating the minds and activities of the characters. Grandmother insisted on her son changing the tour to Tennessee from Florida, as the vicious gang of Misfit is likely to be present in that area. The theme of death compels grandmother to carry her cat in the tour hiding in the car. Many of Flannery O’Connor’s notable literary pieces either start or finish with death. This illustrates the mastery of the writer in using death as a recurrent theme of her writings.
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In the short story “A Good Man is Hard to Find” Flannery O’Connor illustrates the deep truth of Christianity through the use of the theme of death. Grace is an important issue of Christian theology. The very name of the place where the party takes detour represents presence of the theme of death in the story. The team takes a detour from Toomsboro to reach to the place told by the grandmother, which is actually not there. The gang of Misfit represents death in a more vivid manner. The news published in the papers about their escape from a jail infuses fear in the mind of grandmother. The death theme in A Good Man Is Hard to Find has also been utilized by the narrator to show grace and misplacement of grace in the story. It is the very notion of death which brings grandmother to recognize Misfit as one of her children. The very fear of death forces the grandmother to pledge forgiveness from Misfit on the basis of her being a lady. It is the theme of death that helps the reader to understand the psychology of Misfit. Through the words of Misfit, the significance of the theme of death in A Good Man Is Hard to Find has been revealed.
As indicated by Harris and Abbie (5-24), death is the most prized gift that life offers to the Christians. The words of Misfit, “No pleasure but meanness”, illustrate the depth of the theme of death in the psychology of the characters in Flannery O’Connor’s A Good Man Is Hard to Find. Towards the end, when Misfit kills grandmother, we again witness the presence of death and its significance in the short story. With this last death of the story, the conclusion of the story is drawn. It also signifies the convenient notion of all or nothing of Christianity. The death of grandmother intensifies this notion through receiving death in the hands of Misfit.
Literary elements in A Good Man Is Hard to Find
The presence of various literary elements in literary works makes the particular piece of literature rich and helps the author create the desired atmosphere which is needed to express the characters and their feelings. Various literary elements also assist an author in expressing a lot of things saying a very little one. The stories of Flannery O’Connor are generally full of such literary elements which make her works a delight to comprehend and an attractive piece for the critiques.
Imagery in A Good Man Is Hard to Find
Flannery O’Connor’s story “A Good Man is Hard to Find” demonstrates the use of imagery to its best. The recurrent themes of the story have been sensitively conveyed to the readers by using some appealing imageries in some crucial points of the story by the narrator. Throughout the story, the usage of the animal imagery has been considered to be significant by critics. The names of the animals like rabbit, cat, hippopotamus and snake have been used to construct the imageries in A Good Man Is Hard to Find. The touch of grandmother in the shoulder of Misfit has been described as “if a snake had bitten him.” The kerchief of the mother has been described as “rabbit’s ear.” The valise of grandmother has been represented in the story as “like the head of a hippopotamus.”
As put by Desmond and John (129-137), several imageries used in A Good Man Is Hard to Find played a significant role in conveying the inner thought of the writer to the readers. The snake touch of grandmother reveals the perception of Misfit about grandmother. The valise, being described as the head of a hippopotamus, signifies to loads of unrelated past in the mind of grandmother. On the other hand, the animalistic character of the main characters of the A Good Man Is Hard to Find reveals as they do not bear the meaning or principles of their actions. For example, the father wears a shirt which shows a parrot. Like a parrot, the father is blank in terms of understanding the meanings of the ongoing.
The short story “A Good Man is Hard to Find” illustrates the significance and usefulness of employing themes and imageries in a literary work and also unearths how these elements can be used to convey the core thoughts of a literary work to the readers. A Good Man Is Hard to Find short story is a successful attempt of the author to convey and mingle various elements of literature and the impact of aspects of religion in the life of the people at that time.
Desmond, John. “Flannery O’Connor’s Misfit and the Mystery of Evil.” Renascence 56.2 (2004): 129-137.
Harris, Abbie C. “Jesus Thrown Everything Off Balance”: Grace and Redemption in Flannery O’Connor’s” A Good Man are Hard to Find.” Papers & Publications: Interdisciplinary Journal of Undergraduate Research 3.1 (2014): 5-24.
Jockers, Matthew L., and David Mimno. “Significant themes in 19th-century literature.” Poetics 41.6 (2013): 750-769.
Ryan, Gery W., and H. Russell Bernard. “Techniques to identify themes.” Field methods 15.1 (2003): 85-109.