Flannery O’Connor and the Relationship
Between Two of Her Stories
Flannery O’Connor was born Mary Flannery O’Connor on March 25, 1925 in Savannah, Georgia, as the only child to Edward F. O’Connor, Jr., and Regina (Cline) O’Connor. Later in 1941, Flannery O’Connor’s father dies of lupus while O’Connor is in Milledgeville, Ga. After her father’s death, O’Connor rarely speaks of him and continues to be active in school projects such as drawing, reading, writing, and playing instraments. Further, in the summer of 1942, O’Connor graduates and enters Georgia State College for Women as a sociology and English major. Moreover, O’Connor took on the name Flannery O’Connor, dropping Mary from her signature.
Flannery O'Connor is a blunt, cruel writer who uses violence to teach theology. O'Connor's works focus on grace through violent, cruel acts. In her stories' it's hard to find a happy person or a loving family. Her characters, Mrs. May "Greenleaf", the Grandmother "A Good Man is Hard to Find", and Hulga "Good Country People" all make terrible mistakes that result in finding grace through a tragedy. O'Connor does not pull punches, but lets her characters suffer the consequences of their actions. The only reward they receive is the knowledge of God's grace through these acts, but tragically this knowledge comes too late.
I think that Flannery O’Connor’s short story “A Good Man is Hard to Find” is written partially in order to convert people who have not yet fully accepted the Christian faith. O’Conner, having a strong upbringing and solid Christian background, wrote this story believing it would help people who do not have a strong moral base and Christian convictions to seriously making the necessary changes. Flannery O'Connor showed deep concern towards the value system of the youth at the time. She firmly believed in helping to guide the youth in a positive direction. Her belief that Christ was no longer a major priority to the people of her generation was a driving motivation. "A Good Man is Hard to Find" shows Flannery O'Connor's concern for the priorities and values of her time.
This glimpse into the 1955 short story “A Good Man is Hard to Find” will link the reader to Flannery O’Connor and her use of spiritual symbolism. The story is representative of and a commentary on her religious attitudes and beliefs.
The symbolism in “A Good Man is Hard to Find” truly represents Flanner O’Connor’s writing style and underlying theme. O’Connor exhibits the theme of religion in many of her works as she has written a majority of her stories “in the depth[s] of her Christian faith” (419). Having a strong Catholic background, O’Connor displays aspects of religious symbolism combined with her fascination of “grotesque incidents and characters” (420). In “A Good Man is Hard to Find,” Flannery O’Connor embodies the theme of religious symbolism through the setting as well as the main characters of her work, the Grandmother and The Misfit, as a glimpse of hope in a gruesome, sinister story.
As I read Flannery O’Connor’s short story “A Good Man is Hard to Find”, I find myself being completely consumed by the rich tale that the author weaves; a tragic and ironic tale that concisely and precisely utilizes irony and foreshadowing with expert skill. As the story progresses, it is readily apparent that the story will end in a tragic and predictable state due to the devices which O’Connor expertly employs and thusly, I find that I cannot stop reading it; the plot grows thicker with every sentence and by doing so, the characters within the story are infinitely real in my mind’s eye. As I consider these factors, the story focuses on two main characters; that of the grandmother, who comes across as self-centered and self-serving and The Misfit, a man, who quite ingeniously, also appears to be self-centered and self-serving. It is the story behind the grandmother, however, that evidence appears to demonstrate the extreme differences between her superficial self and the true character of her persona; as the story unfolds, and proof of my thought process becomes apparently clear.
“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.
Flannery O’Connor is a master of the ironic, the twisted, and the real. Life is filled with tragic irony, and she perfectly orchestrates situations which demonstrate this to the fullest extent. A Good Man is Hard to Find is an excellent example of the mangled viewpoint which makes her work as compelling and striking as it is.
Flannery O’Connor's perception of human nature is imprinted throughout her various works. This view is especially evident in the short stories, “A Good Man Is Hard to Find” and “Revelation.” She conveys a timeless message through the scope of two ignorant, southern, upper class women. In “A Good Man is Hard to Find,” O’Connor presents readers to a family who is going on a road trip with their selfish grandmother. She is a religious woman who does not follow the set standards that she preaches. Similar characteristics are exposed in “Revelation.” As the self centered Mrs. Turpin sits in the waiting room, she contemplates on her own status with God. Nevertheless, she still commits the sin of judging others. In both of O’Connor’s short stories, these controversial protagonists initially put up a facade in order to alienate themselves from their prospective societies. Although the grandmother and Mrs. Turpin both believe in God, O’Connor utilizes theme to expose that they also convince themselves that they can take on His role by placing judgement on people who, at the most fundamental level, are in the same category as them.
Flannery O’ Connor’s story: “A Good Man is Hard to Find” is the tale of a vacation gone wrong. The tone of this story is set to be one irony. The story is filled with grotesque but meaningful irony. I this analysis I will guide you through the clues provided by the author, which in the end climax to the following lesson: “A Good Man” is not shown good by outward appearance, language, thinking, but by a life full of “good” actions.