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A good man is hard to find style and tone

Gale is a division of Cengage Learning. Gale and Gale Cengage are trademarks used herein under license. For complete copyright information on these eNotes please visit: Table of Contents 1. Compare and Contrast 11. Topics for Further Study 12. What Do I Read Next? Introduction Flannery O'Connor's short story "A Good Man Is Hard to Find" first appeared in the author's short story collection by the same name, which was published in 1955.

Since then, it has become one of O'Connor's most highly regarded works of short fiction because it exhibits all the characteristics for which she is best known: Critics have admired the prose and the way O'Connor infuses the story with her Catholic belief about the role God's grace plays in the lives of ordinary people. Though the story begins innocently enough, O'Connor introduces the character of the Misfit, an escaped A Good Man Is Hard to Find 1 murderer who kills the entire family at the end of the story.

Through this character, O'Connor explores the Christian concept of "grace"—that a divine pardon from God is available simply for the asking.

In the story, it is the Grandmother—a petty, cantankerous, and overbearing individual—who attains grace at the moment of her death, when she reaches out to the Misfit and recognizes him as one of her own children. For O'Connor, God's grace is a force outside the character, something undeserved, an insight or moment of epiphany.

Often, however, O'Connor's characters miss moments of opportunity to make some connection; their spiritual blindness keeps them from seeing truth.

The story is enjoyable for its humorous portrayal of a family embarking on a vacation; O'Connor has been unforgiving in her portrayal of these characters—they are not likable. However, in creating characters that elicit little sympathy from readers, O'Connor has carefully set the premise for her main argument: O'Connor was a Roman Catholic writer who knew that most of her audience did not share her strict moral view of the world.

  • When the family stops for lunch at Red Sammy Butts' barbecue place, the proprietor, a husky man, is insulted by June Star;
  • After completing graduate school, O'Connor attended the prestigious Yaddo writers' colony in upstate New York in 1947-48, where she worked on her first novel Wise Blood;
  • Verbal irony occurs after the car accident when June Star announces disappointedly, "But nobody's killed;
  • She is vain and selfish, and she believes that good character is a result of coming from "good people," an important concept in O'Connor's fiction;
  • Her fuzzy fantasies about a southern mansion combined with some assistance from the smuggled cat manage to cause the car wreck;
  • I keep the memory of thy tears, and long to see thee again, so as to have my fill of joy when I receive fresh proof of thy sincere faith.

She sought, however, to present a message of God's grace and presence in everyday life. Born in the "Bible Belt" Southern city of Savannah, Georgia, on March 25, 1925, O'Connor's region and upbringing influenced her fiction in her depiction of character, of conflict, and in her choice of themes.

O'Connor was the only child of wealthy parents and attended high school in Milledgeville, Georgia. Her father, Edward Francis O'Connor, died when she was sixteen from degenerative lupus, the same disease that later took her life. At the Georgia College for Women, O'Connor majored in social sciences and edited and wrote for school publications.

She later received a master's degree in writing from Iowa State University in 1947, using six of her stories as her master's thesis. After completing graduate school, O'Connor attended the prestigious Yaddo writers' colony in upstate New York in 1947-48, where she worked on her first novel Wise Blood.

Moving to New York and then to Connecticut to live with good friends Sally and Robert Fitzgerald, O'Connor continued to work on her novel until she suffered her first attack of lupus, a chronic, autoimmune disease which causes inflammation of various parts of the body, such as the skin, joints, blood and internal organs. O'Connor then moved back to Milledgeville, where she lived the remainder of her life with her mother.

O'Connor wrote steadily through the 1950s. Her novel Wise Blood was published in 1952, and A Good Man Is Hard to Find, a short story collection containing the well-known story by the same name, in 1955. Most of her stories were originally published in periodicals such as Accent, Mademoiselle, Esquire, and Critic. She won three O.

  • Though the story begins innocently enough, O'Connor introduces the character of the Misfit, an escaped A Good Man Is Hard to Find 1 murderer who kills the entire family at the end of the story;
  • Moving to New York and then to Connecticut to live with good friends Sally and Robert Fitzgerald, O'Connor continued to work on her novel until she suffered her first attack of lupus, a chronic, autoimmune disease which causes inflammation of various parts of the body, such as the skin, joints, blood and internal organs;
  • These are moments from the clarifying moment of the ordinary life to the trance of the mystic that historically we have come to define as religious;
  • Character Analysis 8 The Misfit The Misfit is an escaped murderer who kills the family at the end of the story and shoots the Grandmother three times in the chest.

Henry Memorial Awards for her short stories, a Ford Foundation grant, a National Institute of Arts and Letters grant in literature, and two honorary doctor's degrees during her lifetime. O'Connor's health prevented her from traveling much, so she spent much of her time writing hundreds of letters to friends, family, and strangers. The collection of letters The Habit of Being reveals a great deal about O'Connor's compassionate, but often critical, personality.

Introduction 2 birds that figure prominently and often symbolically in her fiction.

  1. The first thing he wants to know is if the car will still run.
  2. Soon after Bailey turns down a dirt road "in a swirl of pink dust" with "his jaw as rigid as a horseshoe," the Grandmother realizes that the plantation is not in Georgia, where they are, but in Tennessee.
  3. Compare and Contrast 11.
  4. Tolerance The Grandmother demonstrates racial and class prejudice through her words and actions.
  5. The first thing he wants to know is if the car will still run.

She traveled when she could and presented lectures and speeches. She died on August 3, 1964, at the age of 39, from the effects of her disease and abdominal surgery associated with it; however, her fiction lives on, appearing in anthologies, garnering critical attention, and continuing to astound readers with its depiction of the human condition. Summary O'Connor's story is told by a third-person narrator, but the focus is on the Grandmother's perspective of events.

Even though she complains that she would rather go to Tennessee than Florida for vacation, she packs herself and secretly her cat, Pitty Sing in the car with her son Bailey, his wife, and their children June Star, John Wesley, and the baby.

In a comical instance of foreshadowing, she takes pains to dress properly in a dress and hat, so that if she were found dead on the highway everyone would recognize her as a lady. When the family stops for lunch at Red Sammy Butts' barbecue place, the proprietor, a husky man, is insulted by June Star.

Nevertheless, he and the Grandmother discuss the escaped murderer known as the Misfit. Noting that the world is increasingly a more dangerous and unfriendly place, Red Sammy tells the Grandmother that these days "A good man is hard to find. The children second her suggestion when she mentions that the house contains secret passageways.

Soon after Bailey turns down a dirt road "in a swirl of pink dust" with "his jaw as rigid as a horseshoe," the Grandmother realizes that the plantation is not in Georgia, where they are, but in Tennessee.

A Good Man is Hard to Find and Other Stories

This sudden realization causes her to upset Pitty Sing's basket. The cat leaps out onto Bailey's shoulder, and the surprise causes him to lose control of the car and roll it into a ditch.

No one is seriously hurt, and the children are inclined to view the accident as an adventure. Soon a car happens along the desolate stretch of road, and the family believes the driver will stop and help them. As the driver makes his way down the embankment, the Grandmother thinks "his face was as familiar to her as if she had known him all her life but she could not recall who he was.

He is accompanied by two other men; they are all carrying guns and are dressed in clothes that are clearly not their own. The first thing he wants to know is if the car will still run. While the Misfit talks with the grandmother, his two accomplices, Hiram and Bobby Lee, take each member of the family off to the woods and shoot them. Soon the Misfit obtains Bailey's bright yellow shirt with blue parrots on it, and he and the Grandmother are alone. She tries to convince him that he is "not a bit common,'' in an effort to flatter him and spare her life.

When it becomes clear that her words are having little effect on him, she becomes speechless for the first time in the story. Finally she found herself saying, 'Jesus. Jesus,' meaning Jesus will help you, but the way she was saying it, it sounded as if she might be cursing. Themes In "A Good Man Is Hard to Find" an escaped convict and his companions murder a family because of a series of mishaps on the part of the Grandmother.

Thinking that an old house is in Georgia rather than Tennessee, she insists that her son Bailey take a detour that leads them to their deaths. Finally, she blurts out the identity of the murderer so that he has no choice but to murder them all.

Readers are introduced to a quirky family and what appears to be a typical family car trip, but the story ends on a more philosophical note when the Grandmother attains a state of grace at the moment she realizes that the murderer is "one of her children. Tolerance The Grandmother demonstrates racial and class prejudice through her words and actions. She is vain and selfish, and she believes that good character is a result of coming from "good people," an important concept in O'Connor's fiction.

When she sees an African-American child without any clothes, she exclaims, "Oh look at the cute little pickaninny! Little niggers in the country don't have things like we do. She tells Red Sammy, a restaurant owner, that she believes that the United States' problems can be blamed on Europe.

She says "the way Europe acted you would think we were made of money. Early in her encounter with the Misfit, she tries to flatter him, telling him that he does not look "common," and therefore could not be a "bad'' person. A lifetime of prejudicial attitudes is erased, however, at the end of a good man is hard to find style and tone story when she realizes her helplessness and the fact that discriminatory views such as hers are a good man is hard to find style and tone to monstrous behavior like the Mistfit's.

This moment is encapsulated in her epiphany: You're one of my own children! She created characters and put them in situations which convey her message that human beings are trapped in their selfish, petty worlds and often overlook opportunities for understanding and connection; they miss out on love.

Central to O'Connor's theology is the idea of grace, that God's love and forgiveness are available to people in everyday life. Some have defined grace in O'Connor's fiction as the moment in a human being's life when a power from the outside intervenes in a situation.

O'Connor's stories almost always teach by negative example; her characters are often too selfish or unobservant to see the acts of grace in everyday experience. She used violence in her fiction to grab the characters' attention, because she believed that people needed to be coerced into noticing God's presence in the modern world.

She shocked readers into understanding that people cannot survive alone in the world. As she said in Mystery and Manners, a collection of her nonfiction writing published after her death, grace is "simply a concern with the human reaction to that which, instant by instant, gives life to the soul. It is a concern with a realization that breeds charity and with the charity that breeds action.

In "A Good Man Is Hard to Find" all of the characters—most obviously the Grandmother—are concerned only with their own wants and desires. There is no real connection or love between them until they encounter the Misfit and his gang of murderers. When the Grandmother exclaims at the end, "You're one of my children!

At this point she receives grace as she understands her place in humanity. All are sinners in O'Connor's fiction, but all are capable of being saved. Violence and Cruelty A good man is hard to find style and tone of O'Connor's fiction contains violence, which she claimed was necessary to get readers' attention.

Her violence has a purpose, therefore; she claimed that the world in general would not notice God's presence unless something monumental occurred. Only when her entire family is murdered within earshot of her and when she faces her own death does she make a real connection with another human being.

She says to the Misfit, "You're one of my own children! Themes 4 into people's lives precisely when they are not looking for it. As she said in Mystery and Manners, her "subject in fiction is the action of grace in territory held largely by the devil.

Style Symbolism Symbols, elements in a work of fiction that stand for something more profound or meaningful, allow writers to communicate complicated ideas to readers in a work that appears to be simple. In another story "The Life You Save May Be Your Own," O'Connor ends the story with a man being "chased" by an ominous thundercloud, because the man is feeling guilty for abandoning his mentally and physically challenged wife at a roadside diner.

In "A Good Man Is Hard to Find," the sky at the end of the story is cloudless and clear, indicating that the Grandmother has died with a clear vision of her place in the world. Another symbol in the story is the old house that the Grandmother insists on visiting. It represents the woman's habit of wanting to live in the past, in a time she believes people were more decent and better than they are today.

However, the house is not where she thought it was—it was in Tennessee, not Georgia—a realization that symbolizes that one's perception of the past is often distorted. This focus on a distorted past leads the family directly to their ruin; they have been sidetracked by a past that did not exist.

Point of View O'Connor was extremely interested in point of view, and she was careful to keep her point of view consistent.