The story by Mary Flannery O’Connor, “A Good Man is Hard to Find,” is one of the examples of postmodern literature, although it still bears some traits of modern writing. The grandmother is the central character in the story to reveal these traits of two major philosophical thoughts that reigned at different periods in the twentieth century. The present paper includes a brief analysis of this literary work with a focus on modern and postmodern trappings.
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O’Connor is famous for the specific style that makes her a postmodern writer. The irony is one of the most distinctive features of the author’s writing that is also present in the story under consideration (Akbar and Khadim 574). The grandmother is depicted with the help of irony as her stories, her beliefs, her attempts to save herself, and her role in the family are ironic. For instance, the very figure of a grandmother implies the focus on children or grandchildren and their interests.
Instead, the grandmother is completely preoccupied with her desires, so she manipulates her family, “seizing at every chance to change Bailey’s mind” and bring her to Tennessee rather than Florida (O’Connor 21). Although she fails, she does everything to indulge other wishes, such as bringing her cat despite her son’s viewpoint on the matter. From the feminist perspective, the old lady illustrated the patriarchal society of the 1960s when women had to remain submissive. At the same time, the grandmother is still an important decision-maker (or rather a manipulator), especially when compared with the mother, who is barely mentioned with her only role as a child caregiver.
The modern trapping is obvious in the story in relation to the theme of religion. Modern writers tended to highlight multiple views on some aspects, and O’Connor also makes two people express quite opposing views on Jesus. The grandmother believes that Jesus can help people be kind, but the Misfit stresses, “I don’t want no help… I’m doing all right by myself” (O’Connor 32). Moreover, he assumes that Jesus does not exist because if he did, the world would be better.
The Misfit exclaims, “if I had been there, I would have known, and I wouldn’t be like I am now” (O’Connor 34). Nevertheless, the old lady continues expressing her attitude, trying to entice the criminal into praying and sparing her life.
Interestingly, archetypal views on good and bad individuals are quite blurred in the story. This representation is supported by these characters’ views on religion (Zhao 41). The criminal, who is supposed to be brutal, tries to be polite with the lady and children when ordering his man to shoot them. The old woman is very nice to the criminal and does not even use any brutal words, but she uses her kindness, religiosity, and niceness as a weapon in her attempt to save herself.
In conclusion, it is necessary to note that the story “A Good Man is Hard to Find” has the features of modern and postmodern writing. The writer provides opposing views on religion, which is a modern approach, and she utilizes irony, which is typical of the postmodern perspective. The grandmother and Misfit serve as the major characters to convey the central ideas of the story. The author shows the hypocrisy of many people and the brutality of life, leaving readers with quite controversial thoughts on the matter.
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Akbar, Nadia Ali, and Rawa Jawad Khadim. “Irony in “The Cask of Amontillado” by Edgar Allan Poe and “A Good Man Is Hard to Find by Mary Flannery O’Connor.” Basic Education College Magazine for Educational and Humanities Sciences, no. 33, 2017, pp. 567-578.
O’Connor, Flannery. A Good Man is Hard to Find. McClelland & Stewart, 2015.
Zhao, Yang. ” The Absurd Theme in “A Good Man is Hard to Find”.” 3rd International Conference on Economy, Management and Education Technology Held 2017 in Jinan, China, edited by Jiancheng Wang, Francis Academic Press, 2017, pp. 40-42.