Essay, Research Paper: Good Man Is Hard To Find

Literature: Flannery OConnor

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Flannery O’Connor’s story “A Good Man is Hard to Find,” is about a
family taking a trip to Florida that all get killed by an escaped convict, how
calls himself the Misfit, and two of his friends. In this story the reader may
assume some of the men in the story is the man the title refers to, but as the
story unfolds, and the family continues on their journey, every man on the story
displays a considerable fault. With Regard’s to Flannery O’Connor’s short
story “A Good Man is Hard to Find” this essay will analyze the narrator’s
Irony, main characters, foreshadowing, and some symbolism. There are several
ironies dispersed in O’Conners short story. At the beginning, the grandmother
is opposed to go to Florida on vacation, but when the time arrived to depart,
she is the first passenger seated in the car. Another example is the entire time
she is trying to change her son Bailey’s mind, she used a prison escape as the
primary reason not to proceed to Florida, and ironically, they confront the
fugitive in a strange twist of fate. In another instance, the grandmother
insists on taking her cat on vacation with her and her justification for having
to take the cat is that the cat could brush against on to the burners, turn them
on and suffocate himself. The cat, is in fact, the perpetrator that causes the
accident and near the end of the story when the family meets with foul play, the
cat is the only survivor. Irony again is presented when they are driving. The
grandmother cautions Bailey about his driving and it so happens they have an
accident. As soon as the grandmother talks Bailey into taking a turn to see the
farmhouse, Bailey makes the statement, “This is the only time we are going to
stop for anything like this” (A Good Man is Hark to Find pg. 359). The irony
here is Bailey did not know how final that statement would turn out to be. Near
the beginning of their trip, the family stops at a restaurant. The owner tells
how some men stopped by a short time ago and follows this up with saying,
“These boys looked all right to me” (A Good Man is Hard to Find pg. 357).
Then at the end of the story the grandmother pleads with the misfit that he is a
good man. The owner of the restaurant also makes a comment about the car that
the Misfit was driving also. He explains it as an old beat up black car, and
after the family has their accident the car that comes to the scene is a big
black hearse-like car. The main characters are the grandmother, Bailey, and the
misfit. The grandmother is an important, if not the most important character.
She is a woman that manipulates both family as well as strangers throughout the
entire story. In the beginning, when the family has their minds set on going to
Florida, she tries everything feasible to change their minds to go to Tennessee.
She uses the story about the Misfit escaping from prison and then she tries to
rationalize by saying that the kids have been to Florida before and Tennessee
would let them see other parts of the world. The grandmother then wants to see a
farmhouse, and she hounds Bailey and tells the children an unrealistic story
about silver hidden in the house to entice the children into agreeing with her
proposal. Bailey eventually gives in and turns off the road. At the end of the
story, the grandmother tries to manipulate the Misfit into thinking he is a good
man so he would not harm her. Ironically he shoots her in the chest three times
with his gun. She could manipulate no more. Bailey on the other hand has to
drive the entire trip and listen and put up with all of this. He’s has two
brat children screaming in his ear about the farmhouse and the hidden silver
there grandmother lied to them about. Bailey’s mother constantly warning him
on the way he drives and also adding how badly she would like to see this
farmhouse also. Now the Misfit is a man that was put into prison for killing his
own father. Now, he does not remember or want to believe what he did. He tells
the grandmother no matter what anyone does they will forget what it is they have
done and eventually be punished for it. Even though the Misfit can execute an
entire family there is a small amount of emotion expressed when his two friends
come back from the woods and see the grandmother lying in a pool of her own
blood. One friend say’s, “some fun” and the Misfit reply’s, “It’s no
real pleasure in life” (A Good Man is Hard to Find pg. 365-366). The Misfit
may not believe in the way the grandmother lived but he showed a small amount of
care in what she believed. Along with many ironies, this story also has much
foreshadowing and symbolism, O’Connor uses much foreshadowing in this story.
An example of this is in the first paragraph, when the grandmother tells Bailey,
her only son she lives with, to read a part of the news paper that say’s,
“Here this fellow that calls himself the misfit is a loose from the federal
pen” (pg. 354). Now, the first time a reader is reading this they night assume
that the family will meet up with the Misfit. This is a writing technique that
some writer’s use to give the reader small clues of who they might meet up
with in the later part of there stories. Another thing forshadowing can add to a
story can clue the reader in on what will happen to the characters. A good
example from O’Conners story is when she is describing what the grandmother is
wearing then adds this line, “In case of an accident, anyone seeing her dead
on the highway would know at once that she was a lady” (pg. 355). One might
assume that the family would have an accident while on their trip. On the other
hand the reader could think that one or more of the other characters would die.
At the end of the short story the reader finds out that both of these do infect
come true. More examples of forshadowing and symbolism is when the family is
driving they pass an old family burial ground, the author mentions six graves
and the forshadowing of death is exemplified her due to the fact that there are
six family members in their car. Throughout the story, symbolism is a constant
catalyst. After the family wrecks their car, the convicts appear on the scene
and the car they are driving is described as being a big black hearse-like car,
symbolizing death, for example, thought the story, the author mentions the sky
quite a few times. At the beginnings of the trip the children use their
imaginations while looking at the clouds in the sky. As they proceed, the sky
becomes clear and when the grandmother is pleading with the Misfit for her life
the sky is clear. After the Misfit shoots her, again the author refers to the
sky a being clear and the grandmother lying dead face up toward the sky with a
smile on her face. O’Conners does not stop with just these forshadowing
techniques. She goes, as fare to suggest what setting these things will happen
to the charter or charters in the story. She takes common scenery, such as woods
or trees, around the charters throughout their trip and gives it an abundance of
description. At first the reader might see this as mundane. However, as the
reader continues reading they find out that the woods and trees become very
significant to the fate of the characters. In fact at the end of the story the
entire family all meet their death in the woods by the hand of the misfit and a
few other guy’s with him. This essay covered Flannery O’Connor’s usage of
Irony, main characters, foreshadowing, and some symbolism she used in writing
“A Good Man is Hard to Find.” While reading this short story, because of
these writing techniques, the reader may feel that they know or have an idea of
what my happen in the story. These writing techniques help a writer to entice
the reader and help the understanding of the story in a whole.
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