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Flannery O'Connor's A Good Man is Hard to Find and Good Country People Essay

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“A Good Man Is Hard To Find” and “Good Country People” are two short stories written by Flannery O’Connor during her short lived writing career. Despite the literary achievements of O’Connor’s works, she is often criticized for the grotesqueness of her characters and endings of her short stories and novels. Her writings have been described as “understated, orderly, unexperimental fiction, with a Southern backdrop and a Roman Catholic vision, in defiance, it would seem, of those restless innovators who preceded her and who came into prominence after her death”(Friedman 4). “A Good Man Is Hard To Find” and “Good Country People” are both set in the South, and O’Connor explores the tension between the old and new South. The stories are tow ironically twisted tales of different families whos lives are altered after trusting a stranger, only to be mislead. Each story explores the themes of Christian theology, new verses the old South, and fallen human nature.

In “A Good Man Is Hard To Find”, O’Connor introduces the reader to a family representative of the old and new Southern culture. The grandmother represents the old South by the way in which she focuses on her appearnace, manners, and gentile ladylike behavior. O’Connor writes “her collars and cuffs were organdy trimmed with lace and at her neckline she had pinned a purple spray of cloth violets containing a sachet. In case of an accident, anyone seeing her dead on the highway would know at once that she was a lady”(O’Connor 118). In this short story, “the wild diproportion of the terms, the vapid composure that summons up the ultimate violence only to treat it as a rare social opportuinty, and the cool irony with which O’Connor presents the sentence makes it both fearful and ludicrous”(Asals 132). The irony that O’Connor uses points out the appalling characteristics of the grandmother’s self-deception that her clothes make her a lady and turns it into a comic matter. Flannery O’Connor goes to great length to give the reader insight into the characters by describing their clothes and attitudes. The fact that the grandmother took so much time in preparing herself for the trip exemplifies the old Southern tradition of self-presentation and self-pride. The grandmother takes pride in the way she presents herself because she wants everyone to know that she is a “lady”.

Bailey’s, the grandson’s, family repre...


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...ition, she presents the reader with the differing generations of the old and new south, and she illustrates the contrasting views between the two. O’Connor is not afraid to question Christian theology or the Southern culture. Her irony and satire add depth to ther stories, and her deep cultural analysis of the South brings a higher level to her writings. O’Connor also explores the concept of fallen human nature and how it is brought about. Overall, O’Connor’s works prove to be very in depth in both her social and cultural analysis of the South. She is not afraid to critique the society in which she grew up and lived.


Works Cited

Asals, Frederick. Flannery O’Connor: The Imagination of Extremity. Athens, Georgia: The University of Georgia Press, 1982.

Bleikstan, Andre. “The Heresy of Flannery O’Connor”. Critical Essays on Flannery O’Connor. Ed. Melvin J. Friedman and Beverly Lyon Clark. Boston: G. K. Hall & Co., 1985.

Friedman, Melvin J. Introduction. Critical Essays on Flannery O’Connor. Ed. Melvin J. Friedman and Beverly Lyon Clark. Boston: G. K. Hall & Co., 1985.

O’Connor, Flannery. The Complete Stories of Flannery O’Connor. New York: The Noonday Press, 1971.



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