Essay, Research Paper: Good Man Is Hard To Find

Literature: Flannery OConnor

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In Flanney O’Conner’s, “A Good Man is Hard to Find” a great deal of
irony is used to express her views on how society and culture in the present day
and how it has changed from the past. O’Connor used the family’s grandmother
as a key component in the story because of her personality and also because of
her old age. She was able to show her feeling about the deterioration of respect
for family and elders through the grandmother. The tale’s idea explores into
deeper things then just respect. As the story continues many spiritual
observations are made and the regards to how the “old South” views on
religion and “common blood” used to be. The beginning of the story is an
important part because the reader is first exposed to the idea that the
grandmother is little respected or listened to by any of the family members. She
begins by challenging the family against taking a trip to Florida, because she
had just learned a crazed killer by the name of the Misfit who is on the run
into that area. When this argument is brought forth to the family, “Bailey
didn’t look up from his reading, so she wheeled around then and faced the
children’s mother” (232) who also showed the same interest and respect as
the father did. One important element in this scene was when the grandmother
made this remark. She was astounded that her son would be willing to take his
family into such a place with possible danger and remarked with, “I wouldn’t
take my children in any direction with a criminal like that a lose in it. I
couldn’t answer to my conscience if I did” (232). At first interpretation
most readers probably thought was just a way for the grandmother to get out of
going on the trip, although it was an example for the author to show how family
life had changed from her time. Even with changing family styles, grandparents
are a group of people who are usually admired and looked up to by family
members, and a favorite of young children. The aspect of this story that made it
even more powerful was the authors chose to include the children in playing a
role that was much similar to their older counterparts. This put a big emphasize
on the how life’s morals are transferred from one generation to the next. She
wanted the reader to see how the people the parents were could be seen in the
attitude of the children. As the trip to Florida begins grandmother settles in
for the car ride and keeps herself occupied by taken in and enjoying the county,
its sites, and informing the others about its history. Around this time, the
children begin to reveal themselves as brats, and illustrate the lost respect
and discipline. June Star and her brother begin slapping each other and the
grandmother. Without say from the children’s parents, the grandmother takes it
upon herself to keep the peace between them, by telling them a story of a black
child mistakenly eating her watermelon with initials from a suitor carved in it
reading E.A.T. At one point John Wesley says: “Let’s go through Georgia fast
so we don’t have to look at it much, John Wesley said. “If I were a little
boy,” said the grandmother, “I wouldn’t talk about my native state that
way. Tennessee has the mountains and Georgia has the hills.” “Tennessee is
just a hillbilly dumping ground, “John Wesley said, “and Georgia is a lousy
state too.” “You said it, “June Star said. This comment made by the
children got under the grandmother’s skin. She tried to explain to them that
in her time children were more respectful of their native states and to their
parents. “People did right then” (233). The families encounter with Red
Sammy serves as another outlet for O'Connor to express how trust and respect
have begun to wear away. As Red and the grandmother began to discuss better
times, they seem to be close in age relationship. Their discussion leads them to
learn they both share the same views that modern life and society have been
changing for the worse. Red Sammy explained, “A good man is hard to find.
Everything is getting terrible. I remember the day you could go off and leave
your screen door unlatched. Not no more” (235). A perfect example of the
situation which Red and the grandmother spoke about was when Red Sam’s wife
was admiring how cute June Star. When Red’s wife joked and asked if she would
like to come stay with her June snapped back with, “No, I certainly
wouldn’t. I wouldn’t live in a broken-down place like this for a million
bucks!” (235) At this point it is important once again to see how the
parent’s role is incorporated in the story. Not at any point where the
children ever scolded or disciplined for their actions, they only sat back and
ignored what was going on. The grandmother once again had to take it upon
herself to scold June star for making such a rude comment to the woman. When the
trip continues the grandmother makes the mistake of telling the children about a
house with secret panel that is nearby. The children scream and kick the back of
his father seat until he can feel the blows in his kidneys. Finally Bailey can
not take anymore of the children’s acting out and he concedes to visit the
house that the grandmother spoke about. It was on this bumpy and windy road
where ironically the newspaper concealing the cat moves causing Pitty Sing to
lurch on Bailey's shoulder resulting in the car being overturned. As everyone is
getting their bearings, June Star was said to be, “sad with disappointment as
the grandmother limped out of the car” (237). After the crash a car slowly
approaches revealing three men. When they get out of their car, the grandmother
recognizes the Misfit at once. Ironically he reveals himself to be polite and
sociable and even apologizes to the grandmother for Bailey's rudeness to her.
But he also doesn't waste any time as he asks one of his cronies to escort
Bailey and John Wesley off into the woods to meet their fate. The grandmother
and the Misfit engage in a conversation which is supposed to convey a message
which I explained what life was, and what it is turning into. After the
grandmother tries to appeal to the Misfit by stating that he looks to have
“common blood”, he goes into a story about his family and how he had come
from some of the “finest people in the world” (239). This comment once again
brought up evidence that as generations continue things do change. Threw the
conversation between Misfit and the grandmother he conveys a message of human
awareness that while people are conscious and aware of ourselves, we are
basically animals with violent and primal drives at our cores. This message I
believe was one the in some ways summed up the themes story. It is an
explanation of why people today have different morals and act in such away that
is different from the past. As the grandmother tries to plead with Misfit with
the use of religion it can easily be seen that they are on two very different
levels with concern to religion. The Misfit seems to have a much deeper
understanding of religion and the spiritual aspects of life than the
grandmother. As the two continue in conversation I believe that they both come
to a type of understanding that the religious beliefs of yesterday are no match
for the scientific context of the modern world. The grandmother responds in the
only way she knows how to by clinging to her beliefs about "good
blood" and men behaving as a gentleman would. In the end, I think
O’Connor was able to transmit her ultimate message about society and culture
in the modern world. The world is an ever-changing place and it is human nature
to follow your own road, whether it be wrong or right. The strive to be free is
a great of life which religion nor education can overcome. The grandmother
represented a dyeing group of people, who are being replaced by a new generation
which is very different from ones of yesterday. The people of this day and age
will have to pay sometime, and society already shows the shotgun wounds to prove
it.
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