Foreshadowing in A Good Man Is Hard To Find by Flannery O’Connor


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In "A Good Man is Hard to Find," by Flannery O’Connor, one is struck by the unexpected violence at the end of the story. However, if one re-reads the story as second time, one will see definite signs of foreshadowing of the ending. In the course of this story, O’Connor uses strong imagery to foreshadow the people and the events in this story. There are three significant times she uses this technique. They are the description of the grandmother’s dress, the death of the family, and the conversation between the Misfit and the grandmother.

The grandmother did not want to go to Florida; she ironically dresses in her Sunday best. She was dressed very nicely with, "A navy blue dress with a small white dot in the print. Her collars and cuffs were white organdy trimmed with lace and at her neckline she had pinned a purple spray of cloth violets containing a sachet." (11). A strong foreshadowing imagery can be seen in these lines. Knowing the ending of the story, the grandmother’s elaborate dress symbolizes a preparation for her coffin. When a person dies, they are usually dressed in their best outfit, just like the grandmother was dressed in what seemed to be in her Sunday best.

A stronger foreshadowing is when O’Connor states the reason for the grandmother’s beautiful dress, "In case of an accident, anyone seeing her dead on the highway would know at once that she was a lady." (11). She herself predicts her own death.

Unfortunately, she does not know this yet. Not only does O’Connor foreshadow the grandmother’s death, she foreshadows the deaths of the rest of the family. The foreshadowing of the family’s death is very evident when they "passed by a cotton field with five or six graves fenced in the middle of it, like a small island." (12). It is not an accident that the numbers of graves "five or six" matches the exact number of people in the car. There are 5 people and a baby. Since a baby in not exactly a full person, it is appropriate to say "five or six." This foreshadowing image leads into the next one: "Look at the grave!" the grandmother said, pointing it out. "That was the old family burying ground. That belonged to the plantation." "Where’s the plantation? John Wesley asked. "Gone With the Wind," said grandmother." "Ha. Ha." (12).

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The grandmother’s reference to the plantation as "gone with the wind" can be seen as an image foreshadowing and symbolism of the family’s state at the end of the story. Their souls are "gone with the wind" in death. Finally, a foreshadowing image is shown in the Misfit and the grandmother’s conversation towards the end. He says "Does it seem right to you, lady, that one is punished a heap and another ain’t punished at all?" (28). It is known here that the Misfit will kill the grandmother. After all she "ain’t punished" for her crime of hypocrisy, self-centerness, and lying. The Misfit plays God and inflicts punishment where he sees necessary.

In conclusion, Flannery O’Connor uses strong imagery to foreshadow the ending of "A Good Man is Hard to Find." She uses numerous images such as the grandmother’s dress, the graveyard, and the conversation with the Misfit to foreshadow the character’s future and events. Her foreshadowing images are both strong and difficult, so it does not spoil the end of the story.


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