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Essay on A Good Man is Hard to Find by Flannery O'connor

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In her well-known short story, “A Good Man Is Hard to Find,” Flannery O’Connor skillfully describes the difficulty of finding a morally upright human being, whether it is a man or a woman. No one is perfect, everyone has inadequacies and shortcomings, and she presents this cleverly in her story. She is able to support this view of mankind through her characters. They are self-centered, egotistical human beings who can be judged by their words and actions. This is especially true of the protagonist (the grandmother) and the antagonist (the Misfit). The grandmother tries to portray herself as a virtuous woman, but in the end O’Connor shows that her actions are always self-serving and that morally, she is not that different from the Misfit.
The story opens with the self-righteous grandmother trying to manipulate her son, Bailey. The family is planning a trip to Florida, but the grandmother wants to go Tennessee. She has tried to persuade him to change the trip, but he will not listen. The grandmother finds an article in the local newspaper about an escaped convict, the Misfit. She tries to convince Bailey the family should go a different direction because the Misfit is on the loose. “Here this fellow that calls himself The Misfit is aloose from the Federal Pen and headed toward Florida and you read here what it says he did to these people. Just you read it. I wouldn't take my children in any direction with a criminal like that aloose in it. I couldn't answer to my conscience if I did” (O’Connor 356). The grandmother indicates she has a strong conscience, yet she continually lies throughout the story. If she really let her conscience guide her, then she would be more concerned about her own actions.
The next day as the family gets r...


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...ied throughout the story. As Hiram and Bobby Lee return from the woods they look down at the body of the grandmother in the ditch. The Misfit tells them “She would have been a good woman if it had been somebody there to shoot her every minute of her life” (O’Connor 368). The Misfit is saying if the grandmother had been afraid for her life, she would have made the right choices and been a better person. This refers back to the theme of the story. No one is morally upright and perfect. Everyone makes mistakes and there are no degrees to morality. A dishonest deed or action is always wrong regardless of how small the deed may be viewed in the eyes of the perpetrator.



Works Cited

O’Conner, Flannery. “A Good Man Is Hard To Find.” The Backpack Literature: An Introduction To Fiction. Eds. X. J. Kennedy and Danna Gloria. New York: Longman, 2010. 355-368. Print.


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