“A Good Man Is Hard to Find” is a story written by Flannery O’Connor. It is a tragic story that happens in Toombsboro, Georgia. The story is written in a third person narration with plenty of characters to narrate. This story follows a sad plotline about a family who has intents to go on vacation to another state. They originally are from Atlanta, Georgia. Unfortunately, bad events happen to the family. O’Connor writes this story with a lot of foreshadowing and symbolism. Each character means something to the story, and contributes to the storyline.
With all the foreshadowing and symbols in the story, the grandmother plays the most significant part as a tragic character in the story with her arrogance, selfishness, and close-mindedness. This story first starts off with a single family consisting of a few characters. The family has a grandmother who thinks about herself all the time, her son Bailey, her daughter in law, and her grandchildren, John and June and a baby. The grandmother also smuggles her cat named Pity Sing onto the car ride without anyone’s consent, which implies that the grandmother is arrogant. The cat’s name also has a significant meaning as well with the word “pity”.
At the beginning of the story, the family argues where to go for vacation. The grandmother suggests the idea that the family go to Tennessee because she wants to visit some people there. She is very self-centered, arrogant, and selfish because all she thinks about is about herself. She only pertains to her own wants without thinking of others first. The rest of the family argued to go to Florida for the vacation. The grandmother tries very hard to convince the family to Florida and even tells tell that she has heard of a serial killer on the loose somewhere in the central part of Georgia.
O’Connor uses this to imply to the reader that a series of unfortunate events will follow the rest of the series. This is the author’s method of foreshadowing the story. On the way to Florida, they stop by a restaurant called Red Sammy’s to eat. During the restaurant visit, there is even more foreshadowing in between conversations with the characters. Red Sammy talks about how people during their time are harder to trust and that good people are not as easy to find. This is a reference to the title of the short story.
The grandmother and the waiter talk about the old times and have a nostalgic between them. After they eat, they continue on the road once again. During the ride down, the grandmother remembers a place that she has visited during her earlier years in Toombsboro. She recalls of an old plantation that she has visited. She convinces the family to stop by the plantation. They attempt to visit the plantation, but then the grandmother remembers something and startles herself who results in the cat freaking out and pouncing on Bailey, who is driving the car.
The vehicle flips over and throws all the passengers of the car around. The car lands on the side of the road. In order to prevent Bailey from yelling at her, the grandmother acts like she has injuries and decides not to tell anyone that her alleged plantation was in Tennessee and out of their way of their destination. The grandmother again thinks about herself, because she does not want to take blame for the whole situation they are in. If she had not falsely remembered about the plantation, then the whole accident might have been prevented.
A car is seen far away after they all get out of the car safely. The grandmother, thinking of herself, waves them down to help them. After noticing the wreckage, the car with three men gets out carrying guns. The men wore rugged and sketchy clothes. O’Connor foreshadows the events to come through the use of description adjectives and vivid imagery of the character’s looks and clothing. In the background the grandmother, has a feeling that she knows the driver from somewhere. It happens to be the misfit she has learned about earlier in a magazine.
She cries out that she has recognized the misfit out loud. This is a tragic event for the grandmother, because she should have kept her words to herself. This might have spared the family’s lives. An escaped convict would not leave anybody alive if they found out that they were wanted. Again with being self-centered, the grandmother cries out “’You wouldn’t shoot a lady, would you? ’” This again adds to the character’s flaw, because she puts herself first in her thoughts and safety before her family. She tries to convince the killer to spare her life.
She says, “I know you’re a good man. You don’t look a bit like you have common blood. I know you must come from nice people! ” After this short conversation, the driver asks one of his henchmen, Bobby Lee, to take the other family members to another part of the woods. The killer decides to have a more in depth talk with the grandmother about the quality of his life. The grandmother is pleading for her life using this method, and not even thinking about the other family members who are taken away.
She does not even beg for their lives to be spared, even after she ears loud screams and pistol shots from the woods. The grandmother seems to have almost broken the killer into tears, until she says “You’re one of my own children! ” and touches the Misfit. The killer springs backwards and shoots her three times. The story ends with the killer stating, “She would have been a good woman, if it had been somebody there to shoot her every minute of her life. ” This quote summarizes every tragic flaw that the grandmother has done. It means that the killer thinks a self centered woman like herself should be shot all the time.
In about every scene of the story, the grandmother always has something to say about the moment. Everything she has to talk about pertains to her own self interest. Her lack of morality due to her greed and self-mindedness are both characteristics that lead to her and her family’s lives. The grandmother got what she had coming, which pertains to the overall theme of the story. It reinforces to readers not to have qualities that match those of that grandmother, for they will lead to dire consequences.
Courtney from Study Moose
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