A Good Man Is Hard to Find by Flannery O’Connor

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In the short story A Good Man Is Hard to Find, written by Flannery O’Connor, the theme that the definition of a ‘good man’ is mysterious and flawed is apparent. The reader must realize that it is difficult to universalize the definition of a good man because every person goes through different experiences. Thus, these experiences affect his or her viewpoint and in turn flaw ones view on a good man. O’Connor conveys this theme through her excellent use of diction, imagery, foreshadowing, and symbolism as well as through a creative use of repetition and an omniscient point of view. The grandmother, the main character of the story, is manipulative. Her definition of a ‘good man’ refers to the characteristics that a ‘good man’ should possess. She believes that the true definition of a good man is a southern gentleman: respectful, chivalrous, and courageous when necessary. From the beginning, the reader is given the indication that the grandmother is determined to get what she wants and will do whatever she can to do so. And, from the second line of the story, O’Connor suggests that anything the grandmother says might have an alternative motive. “The grandmother didn’t want to go to Florida. She wanted to visit some of her connections in east Tennessee and she was seizing at every chance to change Bailey’s mind” (1284). This is relevant to the theme in that a person may have alternate motives, even if they seem to be doing things selflessly from an outsider’s perspective. When the grandmother mentions that she doesn’t want to go to Florida, her son Bailey assumes it’s because of the Misfit killer who has escaped from prison. However, in actuality, she wanted to visit other family and friends in Tennessee. Throughout the story, O’Co... ... middle of paper ... ...ood man. In A Good Man Is Hard to Find, O’Connor gives brilliant support to the theme, even going so far as stating it in the title itself. Through her creative details and intentional use of rhetoric, O’Connor strengthens the idea that the true definition of a ‘good man’ is skewed and difficult to pinpoint. Defining a ‘good man’ varies because it is individualized from reader to reader and a generic definition cannot be composed. This gothic piece of literature is realistic, and through its theme, the reader is exposed to the flaws of society as a whole. Works Cited O'Connor, Flannery. "A Good Man Is Hard To Find." 1955. Making Literature Matter: An Anthology For Readers and Writers. 5th ed. Boston, MA: Bedford/St. Martins, 2012. 1283-1296. Print. "A Good Man Is Hard to Find." Shmoop. Web. 02 Feb. 2012. .
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