Flannery O’Connor’s short story, “A Good Man Is Hard to Find,” is a tale of good versus evil. The story’s protagonist, the grandmother, is a morally good person who is forced to confront the evil of the Misfit, a convicted murderer. The grandmother tries to save herself and her family from the Misfit by appealing to his sense of goodness, but he ultimately kills them all. The story suggests that even good people can be blind to evil and that evil can triumph over good.
In Flannery O’Connor’s “A Good Man is Hard to Find,” readers see a grimmer, more frank portrayal of their own mortality. The story follows a father and mother with their two children and grandmother, who are driving from Georgia to Florida for vacation. However, an unplanned detour puts them in grave danger and changes the course of their journey and lives forever.
The grandmother, an old woman obsessed with the past, talks the family into visiting an old plantation she used to go to as a child. She is unaware that a dangerous criminal, The Misfit, has just escaped from prison and is headed towards Florida. Unknowingly, the family ends up right in the path of The Misfit and his murderous gang. Flannery O’Connor uses foreshadowing, symbolism, and irony throughout “A Good Man is Hard to Find” to contrast good versus evil.
O’Connor uses foreshadowing to hint at the coming events in the story. For example, when the grandmother is packing for the trip, she makes sure to pack her cat, Pitty Sing, in a basket. “She smoothed down the coverlet and put Pitty Sing on the bed. The cat did not move. ‘I declare, I believe that cat’s been asleep for three days,’ she said…” (O’Connor 2).
The grandmother is so focused on her own comfort that she does not think about how her cat might feel, being locked in a basket for hours on end. This foreshadows the grandmother’s self-centeredness and lack of concern for others, which will become important later in the story.
O’Connor also uses symbolism to contrast good and evil. For instance, when the family stops at a restaurant called Red Sammy Butts’ BBQ, Red Sammy is talking to the grandmother about how he was robbed by a pair of “nice-looking” young men. He says, “A good man is hard to find.” This statement is ironic because, as the title of the story suggests, a good man is indeed hard to find.
But Flannery O’Connor is using this statement to contrast the evil of The Misfit and his gang with the goodness of Red Sammy. While Red Sammy has been cheated and stolen from, he still believes that there are good people in the world. The Misfit, on the other hand, represents pure evil. He has no regard for human life and takes pleasure in killing innocent people.
The question of what is good and evil has been debated for centuries, with most opinions coming from religious sources, such as The Holy Bible. As Matthew 12:34 says, “A good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things: and an evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth evil things.” In other words, a good person does good deeds, and an evil person does bad deeds.
Flannery O’Connor, a devout Catholic, alludes to this scripture throughout her short story, “A Good Man Is Hard to Find.”
O’Connor was raised in Georgia during the Great Depression and the Jim Crow South. Because of this, she had a first-hand view of how ugly humanity could be. In her short stories, she often wrote about the conflict between good and evil. In “A Good Man Is Hard to Find,” she uses foreshadowing, irony, and symbolism to demonstrate how a person can be both good and evil.
The story begins with the family preparing for a road trip to Florida. The grandmother is trying to convince her son, Bailey, to take a different route so she can visit an old friend. She is successful, and they end up on a dirt road in the middle of nowhere. The car hits a flock of birds and flips over. The family is unharmed, but the car is totaled.
While they are waiting for help, the grandmother sees a man walking down the road. She recognizes him as “The Misfit,” a notorious killer who has escaped from prison. She becomes paranoid and tries to hide from him, but he eventually finds them. He kills Bailey and the rest of the family, except for the grandmother.
As he is about to kill her, she pleads with him and tells him that she knows he is a good man. He pauses and considers this for a moment before shooting her. The story ends with the Misfit saying, “She would of been a good woman…if it had been somebody there to shoot her every minute of her life” (O’Connor).
The grandmother in “A Good Man Is Hard to Find” is a complex character. She is selfish and manipulative, but she also has a sense of morality. She knows that the Misfit is a killer, but she still sees the goodness in him. In the end, her efforts to save herself are futile, but she does succeed in changing the Misfit’s perspective on life.
The grandmother is a kindhearted woman who always tries to do what is right, in line with the standards of her generation. She sees goodness as being polite and upstanding, from a family of good stock (O’Connor 454). Before leaving on vacation, she dressed up in her best clothes so that she would look like a lady – or rather, someone worthy of respect (O’Connor 446).
The Misfit, on the other hand, is characterized as a bad person. He is a criminal who has escaped from prison. He has killed several people. He does not believe in Jesus. He does not care about other people’s lives or feelings.The grandmother tries to convince the Misfit that he is a good person, and she even offers him money if he will spare her life. The Misfit rejects her offer and kills her. In Flannery O’Connor’s short story “A Good Man Is Hard to Find,” the contrast between good and evil is shown through the characters of the grandmother and the Misfit.
We all have our own flaws. The Misfit is utilized as a compare and contrast to the grandmother’s character, which in turn reveals “by contrast [her] distinctive qualifications” (“Character” 127). By painting The Misfit as a remorseless killer who takes delight in others suffering, O’Connor appeals to her readers by striking fear in them. The events unfolding throughout the story are plausible, and this allows readers to immerse themselves in the story line and feel what O’Connor wants the characters to feel.
In Flannery O’Connor’s short story “A Good Man is Hard to Find,” the theme of good versus evil is portrayed through the actions and thoughts of the characters.
The grandmother is Flannery O’Connor’s main character in “A Good Man is Hard to Find.” The story opens with her talking to her son Bailey about taking a vacation down south. She is persistent on going because she has never been there before and she wants to see the house that used to belong to her father. When Bailey finally gives in, she starts packing her things and gets ready for the trip.
The next day, they start driving down south and end up getting lost. They come across a old man who tells them they are going the wrong way. The grandmother then realizes that she has been to this place before, and that there was a murderer loose in the area. She tries to warn her family, but it is too late. The Misfit and his gang find them and kill everyone except for the baby. In the end, the grandmother gets what she deserves.