Mercy in Flannery O'Connor's A Good Man Is Hard to Find

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Finding Mercy in A Good Man Is Hard to Find

In "A Good Man Is Hard to Find," Flannery O'Connor represents her style of writing very accurately. She includes her "themes and methods - comedy, violence, theological concern - and thus makes them quickly and unmistakably available" (Asals 177). In the beginning of the story O'Connor represents the theme of comedy by describing the typical grandmother. Then O'Connor moves on to include the violent aspect by bringing the Misfit into the story. At the end of the story the theme changes to theological concern as the attention is directed towards the grandmother's witnessing. As the themes change throughout the story, the reader's perception of the grandmother also changes.

In the beginning of the story the negative characteristics of the grandmother are revealed. She is portrayed as being a very egocentric person. The grandmother is very persistent about getting her way. She appears to be very insensitive of the feelings of the other family members. She consistently tries to persuade the family to go to Tennessee rather than to Florida. Also, she rebelliously took the cat with her on the trip when she knew the others would object. As a result of her selfishness the family had to make a detour to stop and see the house that she insisted upon visiting.

Not only is the grandmother portrayed as being selfish, she's also very annoying. She talks from the moment they leave the house all the way until they have the accident. She is constantly talking about the scenery or telling a pointless story. She seemingly has good intentions to break the tension between the family members, but her intentions definitely fail. Instead of breaking the tension, she causes everyone to become agit...

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...maybe he will have a conscious this time. In agreement with O'Connor, the reader gains the insight that the story is "'something more than an account of a family murdered on the way to Florida'" (Asals 178). Instead, the story is an account of a woman who shows mercy on a man who is not deserving of her grace.

Works Cited

Asals, Frederick. "On 'A Good Man Is Hard to Find." Rpt. in Literature: Reading Fiction, Poetry, Drama, and the Essay. 4th ed. Ed. Robert DiYanni. Boston: McGraw-Hill, 1998. 177-78.

O'Connor, Flannery. "A Good Man Is Hard to Find." 1955. Literature: Reading Fiction, Poetry, Drama, and the Essay. 4th ed. Ed. Robert DiYanni. Boston: McGraw-Hill, 1998. 193-203.

---. "On 'A Good Man Is Hard to Find." Rpt. in Literature: Reading Fiction, Poetry, Drama, and the Essay. 4th ed. Ed. Robert DiYanni. Boston: McGraw-Hill, 1998. 175-76
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