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

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

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

A Good man is Hard to Find" focuses on Christianity being filled with sin and punishment, good and evil, belief and unbelief.


Characters:

The grandmother; is not godly, prayerful, or trustworthy but she is a troublesome character. She raised her children without spirutuality, because she is not a believer, she is Godless.

The Misfit; is the epitome of the Godless man in a Godless society. He is a killer who is also raised without spirituality as the old woman's children. He is the representative of evil.

Bailey; is the son of the grandmother. He and his wife ignores her, does not care much of her.
The children; children are representative of the breakdown of respect, and discipline, and are consequently a forecast of future generations.

The Plot

Point of attack: The story begins with the typical nuclear family setting out on a journey. Immediately the grandmother, who does not wish to travel to Florida, issues her first challenge to their plans. The entire family ignores her except for the little girl, June Star, who easily reads the grandmother like an open book. She warns Bailey, her son, about the Misfit and his crimes and in doing so, she foreshadows coming events.

Rising action: Overlooking the grandmother's warning, the family decides to pursue their trip as planned. When the day arrives for the family to depart on their road trip, instead of arguing, the grandmother climbs in the car before anyone else, just as June Star predicts. "She wouldn't stay at home for a million bucks," June Star said. "Afraid she'd miss something. She has to go everywhere we go." She dresses in a manner so that if anyone finds her dead on the highway, they shall characterize her as a lady. She wore a navy blue sailor hat with white violets on the brim, to match her navy blue dress covered with tiny white polka-dots. Her white organdy, lacy collars and cuffs completed the outfit. But although she agrees to follow through with the excursion, she refuses to go with out her cat Pitty Sing. Afraid that the cat will accidentally asphyxiate himself on the gas stove if left behind, she secretly hides Pitty Sing in her basket. After driving down the road a while, the family passes a cotton field with five or six graves right in the middle of it. Coincidentally, five or six family members sit in the car: the grandmother, Bailey, the mother, the baby, June Starr, and John Wesley.

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Then, the family stops to eat at a restaurant named The Tower, run by a couple named the Butts. Mrs. Butts confesses her fear of the Misfit robbing her cash drawer while her husband Red Sammy talks about lending credit to two men in an old but decent car. These two symbolic occurrences serve as indications of the Misfit's location (Driskell and Brittain 48). After eating at Red Sammy's, they continue their journey to Florida. The grandmother drifts in and out of "cat-naps," but awakens quickly when the family reaches the town of Toombsboro. When analyzed, the word "tomb" pulled out of the town's name foreshadows how the family will meet their end .While passing through the town, the grandmother remembers a house from her past that she would enjoy visiting again. When the family resists, she gives the house an element of excitement, telling the children about a secret hiding place where the family stored their silver. Her exaggerations cause the children to become intrigued in the house as well . But right after Pitty Sing causes Bailey to flip the car. As they gather themselves back together after the accident, instead of being frightened, the children begin to joke and play about their situation They say "no one was killed." instead of using the word "died," Furthermore, while they wonder what to do next, a "big black battered hearse-like automobile" tops the hill coming towards them, presenting the last clue before the actual killings begin to occur. The "hearse" foreshadows how the family will be leaving the town, and carries the family's murderers as well. When brought face to face with the men planning to soon take the lives of everyone in the family, aside from the cat, the conversation between the grandmother and the Misfit enormously affects the consequences soon to be brought on the family. As the Misfit's accomplices escort the rest of the family to the woods, the grandmother exclaims that the Misfit should pray. She then makes clear the importance of prayer. She tells him over and over that if he would pray, Jesus would help him. She keeps repeating herself telling the Misfit that she knows he is a good man. These short, desperate comments show the grandmother's realization of death. But while engaging in conversation with the grandmother, this Misfit portrays his own foreshadowing when the grandmother asks him why he was sent to the penitentiary for the first time. He speaks about how he was put in jail for killing his father. The problem he has with the situation lies that he continues to deny that he committed the crime. Even though the government holds proof, he believes he did not do it; therefore, he believes he was "buried alive." He describes the jail cell where he stayed, explaining how everywhere he looked, there was a wall. This description shows the Misfit's "vision of the world" from a different point of view.
Climax: When the Misfit's men come back from murdering Bailey and the others, he brings the Misfit Bailey's shirt. When the grandmother sees the shirt on the Misfit, she recognizes the article of clothing as her son's, and realizes that the Misfit is also her child through God. In order for her to act as a true Christian, she must accept him and forgive him (Martin 51). She looks at him and exclaims, "Why you're one of my babies. You're one of my own children" (O'Connor 415). The Misfit replies to her outburst by shooting her three times in the chest, bringing the long awaited tragedy, the death of the grandmother, to a reality.

Literary Devices

The story contains persistent images of death and to foreshadow the end of the nameless family at the hands of the malicious Misfit and his accomplices.
The unruly children are representative of the breakdown of respect, and discipline, and are consequently a forecast of future generations.
The Misfit represents evil. At one point the Misfit likens himself to Christ, in that they both were punished for crimes they did not commit. Christ accepted death for the sins of all people, however, and not only did the Misfit not do that, but he also killed other innocent people.
The grandmother is representative of godliness and Christianity which O'Connor apparently believed to be more prevalent in the Old South. The parents pay little attention to the grandmother and when they do, they are often quite rude.
The grandmother represents in her character many foreshadowing elements. She warns Bailey, her son, about the Misfit and his crimes and in doing so, she foreshadows coming events. The grandmother supports this suggestion as she adds, "Here this fellow calls himself the Misfit is a loose from the Federal Pen and headed toward Florida..." giving the reader the first clue the family will meet their doom before the end of the story

Themes
- To reject God's love in small ways is just as sinful as rejecting his love in big ones, because without God there is no value system left.
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