“A Good Man is Hard to find” written by Flannery O’Connor

“A Good Man is Hard to find” written by Flannery O’Connor


The Norton Introduction to Literature is one of the most popular books written by Kelly May. It encompasses different literature works, such as short stories, poetries and plays. The book has continued to receive a lot of remarkable reviews worldwide from both tutors and students who have gained impressive analytical and critical thinking skills from its use. “A Good Man is Hard to Find” is one of the interesting short stories found in The Norton Introduction of Literature book. Written in 1953 by a great fictional story author named as Flannery O’Connor, this story defines the difference between ‘good’ and ‘evil’. Additionally, it describes a family’s encounter with an escaped convict while it travelled to Florida for a vacation. O’Connor uses adversity as the primary tool for revealing the true nature of the characters. The author further utilizes religious teachings, violence, and symbolism to clearly illustrate and differentiate the terms ‘good’ and ‘evil’.

Primary Characters in A Good Man is Hard to Find short story

The main character in this short story is the Grandmother. Throughout it, she depicts an image of a bossy and controlling woman who is quite self-righteous. Additionally, she is savvy and mindful of how the public perceives her. Such is evident when the grandmother overly dresses in preparation for a journey to Florida. In her defense, she says that it is necessity for being a ‘lady’. According to the author, the grandmother is heard saying that in the unfortunate instance that she has an accident, people would immediately identify her as a lady (Gale 3). She also she asserts that in the heydays, good superseded evil. She prefers the olden days than the current times which she regards as evil times.  That she grew up in a society which she describes as moral could be one of the reasons why she considers herself the best definition of who a ‘good’ person is. Even though at the beginning of the story grandmother appears to be manipulative and controlling, her morals suggest otherwise. Even though she genuinely cares for her family, most of the family members perceived her as being inconsiderate and ruly. It is for this profound reason that the family failed to consider their grandmother’s warning on going for a vocational trip to Florida. This was after grandmother told her family of a convict who had escaped from prison and was suspected to still be within Florida.

The second key character in A Good Man is Hard to Find short story is Misfit. He is described as the convict who had escaped from prison. He is viewed as a dangerous man who is capable of inflicting more harm to the society.  He is the main villain of the story. However, his encounter with grandmother and her family provides the reader with a new view of the character of Misfit. He was born and bred in a well-off family. Additionally, he was a kind and caring person whose life changed for the worst after being wrongfully persecuted for the murder of his own father (O’Connor 10). The wrongful conviction marked the journey of his transformation from being a good to an evil person. Having undergone severe mistreatment and brutal punishments while locked in prison, he began to doubt Christianity, Jesus, and whether ‘good’ still existed in the society (Gale 20). Consequently, he starts seeking to inflict harm on other people with the intent of making them feel the pain that he did when he was persecuted for a murder that he did not commit. Even though grandmother pleaded with Misfit to spare her and her family’s life, Misfit heard none of that as she unmercifully shot to death. This clearly describes Misfit as a person whose only motive is to get revenge for having endured mistreatment even though he was innocent of the murder charge put against him.

The Art of Symbolism in A Good Man is Hard to Find short story

Flannery O’Connor skillfully makes use of symbolism in A Good Man is Hard to Find short story. Grandmother’s overly mindful nature of the opinions of people of her symbolizes today’s society, in which individuals significantly mind people’s opinions of them. The car that the family uses symbolizes dangerous times. Its resemblance to a hearse can be said to represent tragedy and death. True to this, the family encounters Misfit after it has an accident. Additionally, after the accident occurs, the sky becomes sunless and cloudless (O’Connor 14). it may be interpreted as signifying Misfit’s emptiness and anger because of the pain and suffering that he had endured while in prison. Misfit is characterized as a dangerous person who no longer cares about evil and goof. He chooses to seek revenge for his suffering, even on those that did no harm him. Eventually, he kills grandmother and her family.

The rough road leading to Florida symbolized sinful deeds the well-terraced road symbolized righteousness. The story talks about two different roads both of which lead to the same destination. The well-terraced road represents the right path that is free from sin, whereas contrary one represents sinful ways. Even though the driver was aware of the good road, he chose the rough one. The choice can be termed as choosing evil over good. The consequence of driving on the dirty road was death. Indeed, the author conveys the message that that the consequence of sin is death and that man has to make a choice between good and evil.

The cross made by the grandmother after being shot by Misfit symbolizes redemption. At this point, the grandmother realized that she was not as righteous as she had initially regarded herself. Her ability to recognize that she was also a sinner influenced her to request God’s forgiveness before dying thereby gaining redemption.

The Art of Foreshadow in A Good Man is Hard to Find short story

Flannery O’Connor utilized foreshadowing to illustrate the future events of the story. For instance, grandmother foresees her death in her conversation with the dressing style. She says, “In case of an accident, anyone seeing my dead body on the highway would know that I am a lady” (Gale 15).

At the start of the story, grandmother seemed to be against the idea of traveling to Florida. To prevent her son, Bailey the rest of the family, from going to Florida, grandmother reiterated the risks of traveling to Florida after she read an article in a newspaper. The article talked of a fugitive who had escaped from Florida Penn and was headed to Florida. Her actions suggest that she foresaw the misfortune that befell them on their way to vacation.



Works cited

Gale, Cengage Learning. A Study Guide to Flannery O’Conner’s A Good Man Is Hard to Find. Gale, Cengage Learning, 2015.

O’Connor, Flannery. A Good Man Is Hard to Find. New English Library, 2014.