Clarification of Flannery O’Connor: “A Good Man is Hard to Find” Flannery O’Connor’s short story, “A Good Man is Hard to Find,” reveals a sense of personal corruption demonstrated through manipulation and the views of society. She shows these by using foreshadowing and characterization. In the beginning, a family of six people have a disagreement about where they are going for a vacation. The pleasant family road trip takes a sudden turn for the worst. The family is executed one by one.
Flannery O’Conner demonstrates the unexpected by using foreshadowing. She uses it by describing grandmother’s attire. “’In case of an accident, anyone seeing her dead on the highway would know at once that she was a lady’”(118). Also, tragedy is being indirectly presented in the opening of the book (Bleikaster). Clearly, the grandmother predicts her own fate. The grandmother thinks it is important to be a “lady” because she is old-fashioned. Another way Flannery O’Conner uses this technique is by giving hints to the rest of the family’s death. They passed a large cotton field with five or six graves fenced in the middle of it, like a small island”(119).
This uses both foreshadowing and symbolism to give the reader a hint that the graves are for all six of the family members, including the baby. Not only did O’Conner portray foreshadowing of the grandmother and family’s death, but she also describes the conversation between the Misfit and grandmother. Flannery O’Connor usually likes to use conflict to stories, so she uses these two help develop the story’s theme (Burke). First, he is mentioned in the beginning of the story.
The grandmother warned the rest of the family that a criminal was on the loose, but they still wanted to go on vacation, which, coincidently, foreshadows their encounter with the Misfit. Likewise, symbolism and foreshadowing is used again. When the family runs into the Misfit, the reader first notices a strange vehicle. “The car continued to come on slowly, disappeared around a bend and appearing again, moving even slower, on top of the hill they had gone over. It was a big black battered hearse-like automobile. There were three men in it” (126). A hearse is a vehicle that carries caskets to a funeral or grave.
The moment when the grandmother and the Misfit are talking, it is noticeable that the grandmothers “ways” change. She becomes more talkative, begging the Misfit to spare her life. The grandmother also begins to speak about religion (Renner). While the Misfit is becoming more angry, they are connecting by emotional and spiritual recognition (Steed).
Although Flannery O’Conner does not describe much of her characters thoughts, she uses characterization to describe the family and everything around them in “A Good Man is Hard to Find. ” O’Conner demonstrates respect and discipline of American society. A Good Man is Hard to Find retells the Pardoner’s Tale of the “Canterbury Tales. ” It points out society’s religious decay and lack or spirituality (Blythe).
The grandmother represents her past through her heritage. We learn more about her from her nostalgia for the old days. “People are certainly not nice like they used to be,” said the grandmother (122). Also, we take in more about the grandmother when she emphasizes manners: “In my time,” said the grandmother, folding her thin veined fingers, “children were more respectful of their native states and their parents and everything else. People did right then” (119).
However, a big argument about the story is why the grandmother does the things she does. Yet, the grandmother’s lies and selfishness lead them to tragedy and everything else that happens to them (Desmond). In the beginning, it is obvious that the grandmother is manipulative: “Now look here, Bailey,” said, “see here, read this,” and she stood with one hand on her thin hip and the other rattling the newspaper at his bald head. “Here this fellow that calls himself 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 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. ” (117) She is determined to do everything she can to get what she wants. Consequently, the grandmother’s sense of manipulation changes as we got closer to the end (Kaplan). Face to face with The Misfit, we don’t know if the grandmother is just a crafty manipulator or a defenseless old lady about to have a nervous breakdown. What motivates her actions?
For example, she is selfish, and she tries to save herself by talking her way out of it. That was a bad idea. On the other hand, as the grandmother supposedly represents respect and tradition, the children reveal the lack of disciple toward their elders in the story. When the family pulls up at Red Sammy’s, his wife asks June Star if she wants to be her little girl because she was so cute, and she rudely replies: “No I certainly wouldn’t,” June Star said. “I wouldn’t live in a broken-down place like this for a million bucks! and she ran back to the table.
“Ain’t she cute? ” the woman replied, stretching her mouth politely. “Aren’t you ashamed? ” hissed the grandmother. (121) However, in the story we learn that nothing fazes June Star. She isn’t startled by the men with guns and she was disappointed that no one died in the car accident. She’s a good example of evil. I thought everyone was intended to be good throughout the story, but they all changed for the worse. Another character that plays a major role is The Misfit.
As a result of being a remorseful killer, he is the prime example of evil, killing for pleasure (White). He questions existence when the grandmother brings up Jesus. As she tries to keep herself from being killed she makes him think about what he believes in. Here, she is also attempting to manipulate him, but he is too clever to let her get to him. He recognizes the “amazing grace” of the grandmother’s act of forgiveness (DeFlix). The Misfit says, “She would have been a good woman if it had been somebody there to shoot her every minute of her life. The Misfit acknowledges his own evil after testing the grandmother’s faith (Desmond).
After being murdered, the grandmother finally receives God’s grace (Bleikaster). In conclusion, Flannery O’Conner leads the reader by using foreshadowing and characterization in “A Good Man is Hard to Find. ” It portrays the changes of American society. She makes strong points about the different situations in the story which helps the readers the corruption in the characters with the help of examples from manipulation and views on society.