Main Themes in Flannery O’Connor`s Writings

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Fiction is something made up for the sole purpose of entertaining an audience. Fiction can be anything from a short story to a multiple book series with wizards and dragons. One may notice upon inspection of modern news is the sheer amount of violence in our society today. Violence that was not always there, Flannery O’Connor, “American novelist and short-story writer whose works, usually set in the rural American South and often treating of alienation, concern the relationship between the individual and God.

” (Britannica) wanted to share this message with everyone by writing a short story called “A Good Man Is Hard to Find”. Some of O’Connor’s other works include “Good Country People”, “Everything That Rises Must Converge”, and “The Life You Save May Be Your Own”. In her short story, “A Good Man Is Hard to Find.” O’Connor uses the character of the Misfit and setting to reveal that society is more unsafe than it used to be.

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Firstly, O’Connor uses the criminal role of the Misfit to show that society is unsafe. In an interview with Justin Taylor “executive vice president for book publishing for books at Crossway.” (gospel coalition), O’Connor says “In my own stories, I have found that violence is strangely capable of returning my characters to reality and preparing them to accept their moment of grace. Their heads are so hard that almost nothing else will do the work. This idea, that reality is something to which we must be returned at considerable cost, is one which is seldom understood by the casual reader, but it is one which is implicit in the Christian view of the world.

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” (gospel coalition). O’Connor is saying in this comment that violence is an escape for the reader, and it is understood that the reader knows about violence, but they do not want to face it themselves. O’Connor says in the text that “The Misfit is aloose from the Federal Pen and headed toward Florida and you read here what it says he did to these people. Just you read it. I wouldn’t take my children in any direction with a criminal like that aloose in it. I couldn’t answer to my conscience if I did.’” (Compact Literature, 367) In this example, grandmother is discussing with Bailey about how a dangerous criminal known as the Misfit has escaped prison. O’Connor is building up a villainous background for the enigmatic character who will appear later, talking about how the Misfit did horrible things to people and how the grandmother would not go in that direction with children. In another example, O’Connor writes “’You wouldn’t shoot a lady, would you?’ the grandmother said and removed a clean handkerchief from her cuff and began to slap at her eyes with it. The Misfit pointed the toe of his shoe into the ground and made a little hole and then covered it up again. ‘I would hate to have to,’ he said”. In this example, O’Connor gives a hidden message that gives more clues that the Misfit has social anxiety. The Misfit is evading eye contact and playing with the shoe in the dirt.

Secondly, O’Connor uses the setting of the car accident to reveal that society is more unsafe than it used to be. By creating a situation in which one is put to the test, O’Connor shows that not everyone is going to help. When someone crashes a car, one assumes that the next person they see will call the authorities and help. O’Connor demonstrates that the exact opposite can happen. O’Connor writes that “She reached out and touched him on the shoulder. The Misfit sprang back as if a snake had bitten him and shot her three times through the chest. Then put his gun down on the ground and took off his glasses and began to clean them.” (Compact Literature, 377). O’Connor demonstrates in this text that The Misfit has some form of social anxiety, which is getting more common with the development of technology. When the Misfit gets touched by another human being, the Misfit got so scared it ensued in grandmother getting shot three times.

Thirdly, O’Connor has several hidden messages in the short story “A Good Man Is Hard to Find” showing the decline of society’s wellbeing. One example includes when Red Sammy says “’Everything is getting terrible. I remember the day you could go off and leave your screen door unlatched. Not no more.’” (Compact Literature, 371). In this example, Red Sammy talks about how you could leave your screen door unlatched and still feel safe inside your home, but because of how society has been on the decline, one can not do this anymore. This shows that at one point, neighbors watched out for one another, but at some point, that neighborly love fell short. In another example, “‘Jesus!’ the old lady cried, ‘You’ve got good blood! I know you wouldn’t shoot a lady! I know you come from nice people! Pray! Jesus, you ought not to shoot a lady, I’ll give you all the money I’ve got!’” (Compact Literature, 377). In this example, O’Connor is demonstrating that, even if one comes from good people, one can come out and still have issues later in life. Another example, where O’Connor writes “’I never was a bad boy that I remember of,’ The Misfit said in an almost dreamy voice, ‘but somewheres along the line I done something wrong and got sent to the penitentiary. I was buried alive,’ and he looked up and held her attention to him by a steady stare.” In this example, the Misfit got sent to a penitentiary, and one must have done something horrendous to be sent to a penitentiary.

In conclusion, O’Connor demonstrates in “A Good Man Is Hard to Find”, that society has become more unsafe and one can expect society to keep deteriorating at a single rate until a fix has been implemented. Using the character of the Misfit, and the setting of the car crash, O’Connor reveals that society is in a downfall, and it has been since O’Connor’s time. O’Connor also uses examples of having to lock doors when one did not have too in the past, and the example of the Misfit having some form of social anxiety. It is clear that O’Connor wanted to share with the audience that she believes that society has become more unsafe.

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Main Themes in Flannery O’Connor`s Writings. (2021, Sep 15). Retrieved from

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