Literary Devices in “A Good Man is Hard to Find” by O’Connor

Flannery O’Connor’s short story A Good Man is Hard to Find has always attracted the attention of various critics since this literary work can give rise to various interpretations. Moreover, it is possible to identify various themes that the author explores, for example, one can mention religion or social change. This paper is aimed at discussing how the author uses foreshadowing or a literary device that may give readers an idea about the development of the plot.

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In many cases, this technique is useful for enhancing the sense of suspense, even though it is not always noticeable at first glance (Bloom 27). This short story eloquently illustrates various examples of foreshadowing. Overall, it is possible to argue that the use of foreshadowing helps Flannery O’Connor create a grotesque and haunting image of the world which is not governed by the notions of justice or rationality. Moreover, by depicting this world, the author strives to demonstrate that religious beliefs may not be reconciled with the cruelty of everyday life. This is the main thesis that should be examined more closely since it may help analyze this short story.

Flannery O’Connor gives several hints suggesting that the family may be exposed to a terrible threat. For instance, the readers learn that a dangerous convict called Misfit has escaped from prison (O’Connor 31). Therefore, one can assume that this character will play an important role in this narrative. More importantly, the grandmother does not want to go Florida because Misfit could be heading toward this state. The readers know that this is not her real motive.

However, by insisting on going to Tennessee, she unwillingly contributes to the tragic outcome (Gentry 33). To a great extent, she starts the chain of events that eventually bring her family to Misfit. It is possible to say that in this way, the author strives to portray the irrationality of the world in which the main characters live. However, this realization comes only when one reads the final lines of the short story which leaves many readers perplexed or even astounded.

There are other clues which can prompt the readers to think about possible perils that may threaten the lives of the main characters. For instance, the grandmother thinks about how she would look like “in case of an accident” that may take her life (O’Connor 33). It does not occur to this woman that her thoughts may be prophetic. Yet, at the beginning, it seems that her concerns are not justified. One can even suppose that this person continuously has such misgivings, but they never come true. This is one of the aspects that can be identified. However, later development of the plot suggests that this phrase is also an example of foreshadowing. This is another detail that should be taken into account.

Additionally, the author uses several techniques to indicate that this family can be doomed to death. For instance, the family goes to the town called “Toombsboro” (O’Connor 38). This name is reminiscent of the word tomb, and the readers are prompted to think about the grave danger to which the family can be exposed. Moreover, one should keep in mind that their car passes by a dilapidated cemetery (O’Connor 34).

Overall, these images can produce a haunting impression on the readers. In this way, the author encourages the audience to think about how the plot may evolve. In particular, they can suppose that this family may face something horrible shortly. Nevertheless, it is difficult to guess that the main characters will soon face a dangerous criminal who is accustomed to taking the lives of other people. This twist of the plot is important for analyzing this short story; moreover, it helps readers understand the author’s worldviews.

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Additionally, it is important to speak about Misfit’s car. In particular, this vehicle is described as a “big black battered hearse-like automobile” (O’Connor 42). In this case, the word hearse is critical since it creates the sense of foreboding. The author does not mention that Misfits is driving this car, but this particular description suggests that this car is an omen that cannot be overlooked. One should also keep in mind that this family runs across Misfit and his gang because the grandmother waves for help.

On the whole, the use of foreshadowing is eventually justified since the readers eventually learn that the family encounters the notorious murderer. This is one of the points that can be made.

Some readers may expect that the family may eventually be delivered from Misfit and his gang. Apart from that, one can say that the main characters did not deserve to become the victims of these criminals. Their perceptions of justice and rationality make them believe that something miraculous is about to happen. However, their expectations are not met. The grandmother and her relatives are killed by runaway convicts. To a great extent, Flannery O’Connor describes a chain of coincidences that culminate in the horrible tragedy.

Thus, it is possible to argue the outcome is quite compatible with the use of foreshadowing. However, this ending is not consistent with the beliefs of many readers (Bloom 27). They may think that the world depicted by Flannery O’Connor cannot be true. This is one of the responses that this short story evokes.

It should be kept in mind that in her works, Flannery O’Connor often focuses on various themes, related to religion (Bloom 27). In this short story, she depicts the world in which the presence of God can be questioned. This is one of the issues that can be singled out. Some critics argue that the grandmother is responsible for the fatal outcome (Gentry 33). This character can be described as a very selfish individual who does not attach much importance to the needs of others (Gentry 33). Moreover, her willingness to see a certain house in Toombsboro led the family to the mortal trap. Nevertheless, the examples provided by the author indicate that this tragedy can be a mere coincidence which could not be predicted in any way.

On the whole, this discussion shows that the use of foreshadowing plays a critical role in Flannery O’Connor short story. Certainly, it is important for creating the sense of suspense and engaging the audience. However, this literary device is also necessary to describe the world in which people’s notions of rationality and justice are not applicable or relevant. This is why this short story may be so horrifying. These are the main arguments that can be advanced.

Works Cited

Bloom, Harold. Flannery O’Connor, New York, NY: Infobase Publishing, 2009. Print.

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Gentry, M. (2005). Flannery O’Connor’s Religion of the Grotesque, Jackson: Univ. Press of Mississippi, 2005. Print.

O’Connor, Flannery. A Good Man is Hard to Find, New York: Rutgers University Press, 1993. Print.

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"Literary Devices in "A Good Man is Hard to Find" by O’Connor." StudyCorgi, 18 Jan. 2021,

1. StudyCorgi. "Literary Devices in "A Good Man is Hard to Find" by O’Connor." January 18, 2021.


StudyCorgi. "Literary Devices in "A Good Man is Hard to Find" by O’Connor." January 18, 2021.


StudyCorgi. 2021. "Literary Devices in "A Good Man is Hard to Find" by O’Connor." January 18, 2021.


StudyCorgi. (2021) 'Literary Devices in "A Good Man is Hard to Find" by O’Connor'. 18 January.

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