You are on page 1of 3

Yourlastname 1 Student Name Professor Name English 3 March 2013 A Good Man is Hard to Find - Flannery OConnor A Good

Man is Hard to Find is one of Flannery OConnors most shocking stories, which mentions not only the life in the American South in the 1850s, but also presents the topic of life and death, faith and disbelief and good and evil; the story is full of Christian symbols and symbols of death suggesting the eventual fate of the family described in the story. By the story, the writer makes it clear that the days gone by were better than the present. The story tells about a family, consisting of the Grandmother, her son Bailey, his wife and their three children, who are going to visit Florida. A serial killer Misfit, a wanted convict, is also mentioned in the story; he and his two companions kill the family, in the end. The Grandmother is the protagonist and the Misfit is the antagonist. The Grandmother wants to visit Tennessee, her native place, but the rest of the family wants to see Florida. There are many symbols of death on their way to Florida; yet, the most obvious symbol of the coming fate of the family is a graveyard in the middle of an abandoned cotton plantation a graveyard of the family, which owned the plantation many years ago and it suggests that the Grandmothers family is soon to die too (OConnor 5). From the Grandmothers recollections of her past in Tennessee, we understand what life in the American South in the 1850s was. The old woman says: children were more respectful of their native states and their parents and everything else. People did right then (OConnor 4); so she thinks that those were good old days, unlike her present. Her memories of her parents old house surrounded by a cotton field show that people

Yourlastname 2 profited from their plantations back then. However, the most important point in the story is the meaning of a good man, which also refers to the past. In the Grandmothers opinion, a good man is a rare happening nowadays, but in the past, almost everybody was a good man. When her family stops at a cafeteria to have some sandwiches, its owner named Red Sammy Butts agrees with the Grandmother and says that a good man is hard to find [these days] Everything is getting terrible. I remember the day you could go off and leave your screen door unlatched, not no more (OConnor 8). From this citation, it is clear that his and the Grandmothers understandings of a good man of the past are different. Sammy Butts refers to moral values when he speaks of a good man, but the grandmothers definition of a good man comprises foolishness, when she calls Butts a good man for letting complete strangers charge their gas (OConnor 8), and wickedness, when she calls the Misfit a good man trying desperately to persuade him to spare their lives (24). The grandmother abuses the phrase not putting any valuable meaning in it to awake some goodness in the Misfits heart (probably knowing that there is not any), while he is only a ruthless murderer with his own understanding of a good man, which he does not apply to himself. The Misfits memories of the past are mentioned when he speaks of his parents, who were obviously good people and his understanding of a good man includes moral aspect as he says that his father had a heart of gold (OConnor 14). Consequently, Flannery OConnors story depicts former times as good times full of good people, while in the present, a good man is hard to find (8).

Yourlastname 3 Works Cited OConnor, Flannery. A Good Man is Hard to Find and Other Stories. Harcourt Brace Jovanovich: USA. 1977. Print.