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A Good Man Is Hard to Find: Literary Analysis

Brief introduction of the short story

“A good man is hard to find” is a story that talks about a family that is killed by a social criminal named Misfit. The main characters are the Misfit and the unnamed grandmother. It depicts human beings as untrustworthy creatures; it is consistently said that a good man is hard to find. The grandmother is stubborn and manipulative, the children John Wesley and June Star are nasty to their grandmother, restaurant owner Red Sammy complains about untrustworthy customers, and Misfit shoots grandmother violently because he sees the world as a place where meanness is all there is. There is no real pleasure in the world according to Misfit (O’ Connor, 5).

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About the Writer

The short story “a good man is hard to find is written by Flannery O’Connor. It was first written in 1953 and published in 1955. Flannery died later at the age of 39 years in 1964. Some critics find Flannery’s work repulsive and violent. The characters display cruelty to others for example Misfit shoots the grandmother, Misfits accomplices kill the rest of the grandmother family (SparkNotes Editors).

The story cynically shows how human beings are obsessed with petty issues. Flannery’s father died when she was a teenager after being diagnosed with lupus. She was exposed to the realities of life which are manifested in all her works. She understands that life can be peaceful and tragic in the next moment; grandmother’s family was going out on a visit then suddenly tragedy befalls them.

Flannery was a deep believer of the Roman Catholic. Her faith inspired her works which she finds real. Others find the works cruel and hard but she believed that brutality was a reality. Her Catholic faith makes her perceive issues with Christian realism, unlike others who think her work is grotesque and sad. The story ends when the grandmother is suddenly transformed, or so it appears. She lovingly touches Misfit and calls him his child at the point when everyone else in her family is killed. One wonders whether one can have such a transformation; it can only be attributed to the author’s religious faith. Religious realism appears to have given Flannery a deeper understanding of the dark part of people’s souls’ (SparkNotes Editors).

Persona, tone, and writing style

The short story is narrated in third-person narration. This makes it possible for the persona to be omnipresent. With this style, the persona can see the minds of all characters. Flannery can let the readers know what is going on in grandmother’s mind and of the Misfit. The reader can get insight and knowledge that the characters in the story do not know. In some parts, the short stories use dialog where the characters are seen having direct conversations (SparkNotes Editors).

The tone is real as the events are narrated to the finer details. It starts with the grandmother refusing to go to Florida. It is set in a family setting. The tone at the start is humorous as the grandmother, her son Bailey, and the children plan on the visit. It all exciting but it turns tragic and frightening toward the end when some characters are killed tragically (SparkNotes Editors).

The writer describes the sky in a peculiar way “the cloudless, sunless sky. The misfit also notes that the sky is peculiar. Cloudless and sunless is used to emphasize how empty the atmosphere is at the time of the tragedy.

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Paraphrase of the short story

The short story “a good man is hard to find is about a grandmother whose name is not given and her family. The grandmother has a married son and has three children. The son, Bailey, plans to go to Florida with his family, the grandmother is against it because she has been reading about Misfit; a criminal on the loose from the federal pen who is killing people in Florida (O’ Connor, 15) The family, however, insists on the visit to Florida and on the way the grandmother narrates a story of her early day’s suitor who gave her watermelons. She calls him a good man. They go to a restaurant owned by Sammy Butts who complains that people are untrustworthy quoting his experiences with two customers who had bought gasoline on credit. The grandmother calls him a good man (SparkNotes Editors). Red Sammy’s wife says that she is worried that the misfit will rob them after grandmother asks if they have heard about him. Red Sammy says that a good man is hard to find. The grandmother talks of a house she had visited on a roadside plantation and the children convince their father to drive to the house. The grandmother remembers it was not there but in Georgia, but she does not tell them. They are involved in a minor accident. While still pondering on the next move a car stops and three men armed with guns steps out. Grandmother recognizes one of them to be the Misfit. In an attempt to save herself, grandmother praises the misfit and calls him a good man. He suggests that the man should pray to Jesus but eventually Misfit fires at grandmother. Misfit says that grandmother would have been a good person had somebody been firing her every minute (O’ Connor, 23).

Analysis of metaphor, simile, personification, symbolism in the short story

The short story “A good man is hard to find” seems to be a metaphor representing life. Life has different experiences; good ones that can suddenly take a different direction. In the plot, the grandmother’s family is on a road trip to just visit Florida (SparkNotes Editors). On the way, they are involved in an accident and finally are killed by ruthless criminals. Life is uncertain; one plans to achieve something and ends up not getting it.

The Misfit’s vehicle is described as a “big black battered hearse-like automobile” a hearse carries dead people. In this case, it represents darkness which eventually ends in the death of a grandmother and her family.

The grandmother’s hat is symbolically used to represent her fake idea of being a lady. Her main worry on how people see her is misguided. It should have nothing to do with the outfits; everyone should be able to tell if she is a lady. She begs the Misfit not to kill her because she is a lady (SparkNotes Editors). The hat falls off in the accident, it falls off again when they are confronted by Misfit. This is a representation of how misguided people are on moral requirements.

How the short story relates to personal experiences

The short story teaches that life is uncertain just like the family failed to get to Florida safely. Moral values should be given more concern over petty issues like how a grandmother is obsessed about being perceived as a lady. She is transformed when she is about to be shot, Misfits notices the sudden change and suggest that she needed to be shot at every minute to be a good woman. Grandmother was selfish and manipulative until too late. We should appreciate life and everything when we have the chance to; grandmother cared less until too late when she compassionately sees Misfit as her child under a peculiar setting.

Works Cited:

O’ Connor Flannery, A Good Man Is Hard to Find. United States of America: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1977. Print.

SparkNotes Editors. SparkNote on A Good Man Is Hard to Find.

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