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The short story by Flannery O’Connor “A Good Man Is Hard to Find” is one of the bright samples of Southern Gothic literature. Supernatural or strange events are very common for this style. It often focuses on unusual characters, and the crumbling landscape is used as a background for grotesque or haunting atmosphere of life in the American South. Characters, nature, and events seem to be normal at first, but later, they turn to be strange and horrific. F.O’Connor used both dramatic and situational irony in her short story. Every word was carefully chosen to contribute to the general plot of the story.
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“A Good Man is Hard to Find” brings us to a family’s holiday that suddenly ends with a murder. The major characters in the story are the unnamed grandmother and the Misfit. The story begins with the grandmother opposing her son’s idea of visiting Florida; she insisted on going to Tennessee instead. Her request was ignored. O’Connor extensively uses characterization to bring out the lack of respect and poor discipline in the American society. The message in her story can be understood from differences that subsist between the old and young generations. During the preparations, the grandmother decides to put on her best Sunday dress to make sure she will be easily taken for a lady when she dies. F. O’Connor inserts words and phrases that foreshadow the tragic events that happened later on the dirt road.
Similarly, the writer uses symbolism in the story to show bereavement and faith. She says that the family moves from the good road to a dreadful one, the road where they end up getting killed. This symbolizes how people move away from the kingdom of God to go down the evil paths. Several issues have been brought into the context. For instance, the selfish and manipulative nature of the unnamed grandmother has been portrayed. It is well seen when she tried to explain to the Misfit why he should not kill her. Another sample is the contrast between her way of dressing and that of her daughter-in-law.
In line with this, the conversation of the grandmother and Red Sammy in the restaurant brings out a clear indication that it is hard to find a good man in the world today. They recall the days of their youth when safety was at its highest degree with a lot of nostalgia. The introduction of Misfit character in the story brings out a judgmental society which contributed to the behavior of the Misfit as a murderer. Only in the conversation with the grandmother, the Misfit is able to pour out his heart. He confesses that he used to be a gospel musician, but then, he found himself behind bars. He was convicted for a crime he had no idea about. This shows that even though the Misfit was a murderer, the society he lives in was to be accused of his behavior.
As the story ends, the theme of religion is brought out when the grandmother reaches the Misfit and begins to tell him about Jesus. Although it was certainly the way of trying to save her own soul, it was also an act of grace. When she touched the Misfit’s forehead and preached that he was one of God’s children, she was definitely on a good pass.
The author ultimately does well to bring to the reader’s attention how the world is changing from good to bad. Using characterization and symbolism, O’Connor clearly shows the various vices in the society which make the world a bad place. The author also uses the title of the story “A Good Man is Hard to Find” to show that if people would accept Jesus in their lives, then the world could be a good place just like it used to be in the past.
To sum it up, I do not completely share F. O’Connor’s point of view in “A Good Man is Hard to Find”. I cannot support her idea of our life being simply a road to death. I liked the way the characters in the story are brought to a point of crisis in their lives. It was great to understand that main characters had a level of self-confidence which made them feel that their conduct is unquestionable. However, their self-confidence is destroyed as the events unfold. It often happens that some events make us reevaluate our lives and perceive the world with a new perspective. The story implies that the world is a cruel place to dwell in – words echoed by Red Sammy, a hotel proprietor. He further asserts that it is not easy to find a righteous man, which is in line with the narrative’s title. I absolutely support this thought; good people are rarely met in today’s world.
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