Skip Nav

A Good Man Is Hard to Find, Flannery O'Connor - Essay

A Good Man is Hard to Find Essay

❶A Good Man Is Hard to If the grandmother is, as she appears to be, the "good man" who is so hard to find in Flannery O'Connor's story, "A Good Man Is Hard to Find," then who or what, one wonders, is Pitty Sing, the grandmother's cat?

Client testimonials

Welcome to the new SparkNotes!
Introduction
Navigate Guide

On the other hand, the fugitive has a different perception concerning morals stemming from his belief that he should not be in prison following an unfair conviction. Due to his frustration, the fugitive decides not to align to any common religion. The children in this article also reflect a different view of moral codes. This can be seen in the insolent responses they offer to their grandmother during the road trip.

Since the children are not corrected or rebuked, it seems it is also acceptable to the parents. The story line also clearly exhibits how different people perceive morals.

Universally, many people believe that morals are virtues or acceptable conducts within a society. This is however not necessarily true as it is just but one of the many beliefs that people follow. To others, it is right to practice what may be considered wrong. As evidenced in this article, the fugitive believes that true religion is revealed through meanness and inconsideration.

The grandmother also supports this idea by her understanding of what good is. For example, she tells Red Sammy that he is good because he sold gas on credit to customers who were not considered credit worth.

In a bid to save her life, she refers to the fugitive as a good man. The grandmother, being a major character, has a lot to teach people regarding the consideration of morality in terms of practice and adherence. The grandmother fluctuates depending on the circumstances. On the contrary, the fugitive is a good example of a stable person in terms of morals, although they are largely considered as wrong. This is because, despite his unlawful character, he adheres to what he believes. When the grandmother pleads with him not to kill them, he firmly sticks to what he believes and what he has decided.

He is a good example of a person who is ready to do anything for his cause. It is important for the society to adopt moral codes that are favorable to all. This article largely relates with a personal experience of moral decadence witnessed. The story is noted for its religious aspects, in particular O'Connor's penchant for depicting salvation through a shocking, often violent experience undergone by characters who are spiritually or physically grotesque.

Commentators have praised "A Good Man Is Hard to Find" for O'Connor's effective use of local color and the rich comic detail of her Southern milieu, as well as her ability to record with a keen ear the idiosyncratic dialect of characters such as the grandmother and The Misfit. With rare, but significant, exceptions most critics accept O'Connor's description of "A Good Man Is Hard to Find" as a tale of redemptive grace in a fallen world.

The story's religious concerns are expressed through a series of motifs and emblems, cleverly muted by O'Connor's superficially naturalistic style. Critics point to the disastrous detour into the dark woods of error, for example, as a traditional theme in Christian exempla, from Dante's Divine Comedy to Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress. The Misfit himself typifies the existential despair and guilt of the fallen sinner.

As many commentators argue, the grandmother's epiphanic recognition of her kinship with the desperate figure belatedly redeems her from a life that has been petty, materialistic, and selfish. Her child-like expression as she collapses with crossed legs into her own grave has been suggested as a symbol of her sudden accession to Christian grace.

O'Connor herself justified the use of terror to shock spiritually complacent modern readers: For some commentators, the jarring shift from comedy to tragedy takes unfair advantage of a group of characters whose depiction verges on caricature. More recent interpretations of the tale range from structural and political analysis to an examination of its classical and medieval literary influences. Last fall I received a letter from a student who said she would be "graciously appreciative" if I would tell her "just what enlightenment" I expected her to get from each of my stories.

I suspect she had a paper to write. I wrote her back to forget about the enlightenment and just try to enjoy them.

I knew that was the most unsatisfactory answer I could have given because, of course, she didn't want to enjoy them, she just wanted to figure them out.

In most English classes the short story has become a kind of literary specimen to be dissected. Every time a story of mine appears in a Freshman anthology, I have a vision of it, with its little organs laid open, like a frog in a bottle. I realize that a certain amount of this what-is-the-significance has to go on, but I think something has gone wrong in the process when, for so many students, the story becomes simply a problem to be solved, something which you evaporate to get Instant Enlightenment.

A story really isn't any good unless it successfully resists paraphrase, unless it hangs on and expands in the mind. Properly, you analyze to enjoy, but it's equally true that to analyze with any discrimination, you have to have enjoyed already, and I think that the best reason to hear a story read is that it should stimulate that primary enjoyment.

I don't have any pretensions to being an Aeschylus or Sophocles and providing you in this story with a cathartic experience out of your mythic background, though this story I'm going to read certainly calls up a good deal of the South's mythic background, and it should elicit from you a degree of pity and terror, even though its way of being serious is a comic one.

I do think, though, that like the Greeks you should know what is going to happen in this story so that any element of suspense in it will be transferred from its surface to its interior. I would be most happy if you had already read it, happier still if you knew it well, but since experience has taught me to keep my expectations along these lines modest, I'll tell you that this is the story of a family of six which, on its way driving to Florida, gets wiped out by an escaped convict who calls himself the Misfit.

The family is made up of the Grandmother and her son, Bailey, and his children, John Wesley and June Star and the baby, and there is also the cat and the children's mother.

The cat is named Pitty Sing, and the Grandmother is taking him with them, hidden in a basket. Now I think it behooves me to try to establish with you the basis on which reason operates in this story. Much of my fiction takes its character from a reasonable use of the unreasonable, though the reasonableness of my use of it may not always be apparent.

The assumptions that underlie this use of it, however, are those of the central Christian mysteries. These are assumptions to which a large part of the modern audience takes exception. About this I can only say that there are perhaps other ways than my own in which this story could be read, but none other by which it could have been written. Belief, in my own case anyway, is the engine that makes perception operate.

The heroine of this story, the Grandmother, is in the most significant position life offers the Christian. She is facing death. And to all appearances she, like the rest of us, is not too well prepared for it.

She would like to see the event postponed. I've talked to a number of teachers who use this story in class and who tell their students that the Grandmother is evil, that in fact, she's a witch, even down to the cat.

One of these teachers told me that his students, and particularly his Southern students, resisted this interpretation with a certain bemused vigor, and he didn't understand why. I had to tell him that they As a narrative stylist, Flannery O'Connor belongs, however peripherally, to a Pauline or Augustinian tradition extending from Langland to Bunyan and Hawthorne.

Her tastes for gothicism, allegory, and regional setting derive from that special admiration for The House of the Seven Gables evident in so many important Southern writers from Faulkner to Truman Capote.

The mingled scorn and sorrow with which Hawthorne faced I'm going to preach there was no Fall because there was nothing to fall from and no Redemption because there was no Fall and no Judgment because there wasn't the first two. Nothing matters but that Jesus was a liar. In the following excerpt, she compares The Misfit to other violent characters in Southern literature.

Be Book-Smarter.

Main Topics

Privacy Policy

A Good Man Is Hard To Find” - One of the most memorable lines from “A Good Man Is Hard To Find” comes from the Misfit when he says, “She would have been a good woman if it had been someone there to shoot her .

Privacy FAQs

Essays and criticism on Flannery O’Connor's A Good Man Is Hard to Find - A Good Man Is Hard to Find, Flannery O'Connor.

About Our Ads

In Flannery O'Connor's short story, "A Good Man is Hard to Find", a southern family is taking a vacation to Florida, but the real journey takes place inside the family's lives. One question that comes up in the story is what the definition of a good man is and how there is so few of them left in the world. A Good Man Is Hard To Find essaysThe purpose of most fiction is to convey a moral lesson or message to the reader. In " A Good Man Is Hard To Find", Flannery O.

Cookie Info

In "A Good Man is Hard to Find," the character The Misfit expressed his doubt over the teachings of Jesus and God when discussing with the grandmother. He said things pertaining to the thought of losing his faith after he was incarcerated in the penitentiary (O'Connor, "Good Man" ). May 28,  · Free Essays from Bartleby | A Good Man Is Hard To Find The Storm Of the two stories I read, one being The Storm by Kate Chopin and the other being A Good Man.