Throughout Flannery O’Connor’s “A Good Man is Hard To Find”, hints are given to the readers that foretell what is in store, foreshadowing the grotesque ending that is to come. These insinuations of the forthcoming become coincidences later in the story when they actually do develop into reality, creating mocking irony. The names within the story can be considered foreshadowing themselves. For example, the name of the town where the family is murdered is called “Toombsboro.” The word “Toombsboro” can be separated into two words: Tombs and Bury. These are words that signify death. The fact that the author chose this as a name for the town, implies the foul event that will insure later in the story. The first moment that foreshadowed the future was the article about the Misfit that the grandmother showed Bailey. She told him, “A Misfit is aloose from the Federal Pen and headed toward Florida…I wouldn’t take my children in any direction with a criminal like that aloose in it.”(368)
This moment sets up a major coincidence when the family later runs into the Misfit. Plus, it was an irony because the Grandmother had attempted to persuade the family not to go in the direction the Misfit was heading. Yet, unfortunately only June Star paid any attention to the comment, and the family did run into the criminal. Additionally, a less obvious evidence of foreshadowing occurred when June Star announced, “She [The Grandmother] wouldn’t stay at home for a million bucks. She has to go everywhere we go”(368) This can be read as a direct foreshadowing of the order and occurrence of the grandmother’s death. When the family comes across the Misfit, and each family member is taken into the forest, the reader wonders why every time Bobby Lee and Hiram return without the family member.
Eventually, one realizes they have all been killed. So, June Star’s comment that the grandmother goes everywhere the family goes can be read as a signal that she will meet the same end that they did. Plus, the fact that she follows the family indicated that she would die last.Furthermore, although the grandmother did not want to go to Florida, she still unpredictably dresses up. The grandmother wore, “A navy blue straw sailor hat with a bunch of white violets on the brim and a savvy blue dress with a small white dot in the print.
Her collars and cuffs were white organdy trimmed with lace and at her neckline she had pinned a purple spray of cloth violets containing a sachet.” (369) O’Connor says that the reason for the grandmother’s proper dress was, “in case of an accident, anyone seeing her dead on the highway would know at once that she was a lady.”(369) She therefore foresaw her own death, or at least foreshadowed it. It also shows how she represents the properness and rich religious beliefs of the south.
Yet another foreshadowing is portrayed when the family “passed by a cotton field with five or six graves fenced in the middle of it, like a small island” (370). It is not an accident that there are five or six graves, which evidently matches the exact number of people in the car. Five people and the sixth is the baby. The baby is not precisely a full complete person, hence the ambiguity of the number of graves.
Flannery O’Connor uses foreshadowing to give the readers slight hints of what is to come, foretelling the grotesque fate of the family. Insinuations are made through titles, comments, clothes, and sites, setting the scene for surprising irony later in the family’s journey.