Type: Literary Analysis
Pages: 4 | Words: 1037
Reading Time: 5 Minutes

“A Good Man is hard to Find” is a short story written by Flannery O’Connor having been the first to appear in the author’s short story connection. Being first published in 1955, the book has become one of her most highly observed works of short fiction. This is possibly because the book exhibits most of the characteristics for which she is known. A clear contrast is depicted by the way in which violent action is carefully blended with humorously and carefully drawn characters and philosophy that greatly accentuates her faith. In spite of the fact that the story is quite disconcerting, the aspect is that it is side-splitting at the same time. It is also quite a contemptuous tale in the way in which human parsimoniousness and exploitation is clearly brought out.

Character Development

In as much as the story begins innocently, the author introduces the character of Misfit, an escaped murderer who is involved in the killing of the whole family even as the story comes to an end (Kirk 76). The Misfit in actual sense lives a moral code involving murder and remorsefulness (O’Connor 2). Ironically, the man also spends time wondering about Jesus. As a matter of fact, he is even not in the know on the actual resurrection of Jesus from the dead (O’Connor 21). This eventually leads him to meanness as the means of giving his life a meaning. The paradox is that the Misfit does not see himself as a dreadful person (Kirk 76).  However, it is through this character that O’ Connor explores the concept of grace in Christianity, which is basically the divine pardon from God which is readily available by the simple act of asking (O’Connor 21).

In spite of his atrocious and untenable life, he seems to an unlikely source for religious and ethical assistance. This is because he demonstrates a deep conviction which is actually lacking in other characters (O’Connor 20). In contrast to the grandmother who is haughty and assumes moral superiority over everyone else, the Misfit on his part sincerely questions the essence of life and his responsibility in it. The Misfit also questions his life very closely, revealing a sense of self-awareness (Kirk 77).

Also in the story is Grandmother, a very petty, tetchy and conceited person. She is also an exasperating woman even as she lives with Bailey and his family (Kirk 77). Her suggestion of visiting an old house during the family’s journey to Florida becomes fatal since the idea leads to a car accident in which everyone in the group is eventually murdered (O’Connor 22-3). She later remembers that the house in question is actually in Tennessee which is actually not anywhere near where she said it was (O’Connor 23). As for her case, she apparently attains grace at the time of her death. This happens as she reaches out to Misfit identifying him as her one of her children (Kirk 77).

Bailey, the stressed out leader of the family unit, gives the impression of loving his mother. However, her irritating conduct in some cases gets the best of him (Kirk 75). Bailey gives in to Grandmother’s requests of going to visit the old plantation house that she remembers simply because the children can not have anything less (Kirk 76). He eventually wrecks the car when Grandmother’s cat jumps on his shoulder. In as much as he tries to calm the grandmother and stop her from infuriating the criminals, he fails. He finally becomes the first victim of the Misfit. The Mother is Bailey’s wife and the mother of June Star, John Wesley, and a baby (O’Connor 2). Her shoulder gets broken in the accident and she is eventually killed by Misfit’s accomplices (O’Connor 20).

John Wesley is an eight-year old, noisy, detestable boy who wants to visit the house the grandmother speaks of since she says it is a secret panel (O’Connor 2). Red Sammy Butts, the owner of the Tower Restaurant, is a good credulous and susceptible man, according to the grandmother. Bobby Lee, one of the escaped criminals, is a fat, looking like a pig, according to June Star (O’Connor 20).

The Importance of the Setting

Having been set in Atlanta, the place is vital in the story as it reflects the kind of society they lived in at that time (O’Connor 3). This was as a result of the lousiness of the state (O’Connor 4). The story is also set at a time when the generation change was just beginning in America. It was also at a time when the civil rights movement was at its peak. This was to give the clear reflection of how the world was changing with many criminal activities being the order of the day.

The Relevance of the Tower

The Tower is a BBQ restaurant owned by Red Sammy and it is the actual place where the family stops for lunch (Kirk 75). It is apparently used in the book for the purpose giving an impression of how life used to be in the past. It is also the place where the grandmother talks about the Misfit, the escaped murderer (Kirk 75). At the Tower, the world is viewed as an increasingly dangerous and unfriendly place. It is also relevant in the book due to the fact that even Red Sammy asserts that these days, “A good man is hard to find” (O’Connor 8).

Literary Criticism by Stephen C. Bandy

According to Stephen C. Bandy, the author of “One of My Babies: The Misfit and the Grandmother”, O’ Connor’s book is based not on grace and salvation, but somehow very cynical and contrary to the concept of Christianity. Its message is intensely pessimistic and seditious to the canons of grace (Kirk 76). Bandy in actual sense does not heed any likelihood of a moment of grace arguing that much criticism of the story seems to take a sappy view of the Grandmother largely because she is a grandmother (O’Conner 2). According to Bandy, her insensitivity is astonishing, even though she sees herself as a gallant guardian of social etiquette in a world of barbarians. When the grandmother declares that the Misfit is “…one of my babies” Bandy considers it true since her deficiency of ethics is her deficiency as well (Kirk 75).

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