A Good Man is Hard to Find: Introduction
“A Good Man is Hard to Find” is a short story by Flannery O’Connor that uses the various characters to represent the various personalities in the American South. The story is about a family taking a road trip to Florida and, unfortunately, are murdered by the Misfit, and his crew, along the route. The family comprises the Grandmother, Bailey, his wife, two children, and the Pitty Sing, the cat.
A Good Man is Hard to Find: Grandmother Cunning
During the preparation of the journey, the grandmother outsmarts all other family members and hides her cat, Pitty Sing, at the back of the car, on the floor, fearing that the cat might miss her or even die. Throughout the story, the grandmother views herself as a decent lady, lacks introspection, and judges others. Along the road, the family interacts with different personalities like Red Sammy Butts, a business owner in Georgia, so that the grandmother could catch up with him. Get legit paper writing services today!
Being a longtime friend to Grandmother, she considers him a good person and does not correct him when he treats his wife poorly in her present, showing that according to her, goodness is an inherent quality that is not determined by a person’s actions. Flannery O’Connor uses the major characters in the Short Story “A Good Man is Hard to Find” to illustrate her understanding of the people of the 20th Century American South and the culturally accepted perception of various complex philosophical concepts like good, grace, and evil, and the alternative view.
A Good Man is Hard to Find: Grandmother Narcissist
The grandmother is the main character in the short story and is an elderly lady who considers herself decent and is also depicted as naïve and very selfish. She uses her role as Bailey’s mother to manipulate the entire family into doing things her way, costing the family as a whole of their lives. Her perception of decency is well depicted by her speech and dressing, as she dresses in a sophisticated manner, like a lady, whereas the other family members dress casually.
She wears her best clothes and a fancy hat so that he looks like a proper woman, in case she dies in a cat accident, and can no longer express her decency, as she uses her communication and appearance to intimidate other people into following her commands and suggestions. The grandmother is a Christian, which is the basis of her virtue and morality, and according to her, everyone else should uphold her standards.
She corrects her grandchildren June Star and John Wesley of being disrespectful, nitpicking her Bailey’s words, and even judges the Misfit, which costs the entire family their lives. Her hypocrisy is clear due to her religious beliefs, which focus more on the outward appearance and the perception of other people to determine if f someone is a worthy human being, the cause of her being judgmental, selfish, and consequently a hypocrite. She can therefore be viewed to represent the elderly population in the Southern States of the USA and the work in general, which is often sanctimonious.
A Good Man is Hard to Find: The Misfit
The Misfit in the story “A Good Man is Hard to Find” is another major character in the Story “A Good Man is Hard to Find,” who represents a young person who has been ostracized by society and consequently rejects common social norms and decency. The Misfit meets the family after being severely punished for allegedly killing his father, a crime he is not sure he committed. The author uses this character to illustrate the consequences of having a flawed justice system, as it leads to further moral decadence in the society, in that the Misfit ended up committing an actual crime after being allegedly falsely accused of committing a different one.
Additionally, the suffering that the Misfit undergoes gives him a deeper understanding of life, which the grandmother lacks, and the Misfit thinks that the grandmother needed to experience such kind of suffering and would have ended up being a better person, “She would have been a good woman,” The Misfit said, “if it had been somebody there to shoot her every minute of her life” (O’Connor, 1993, p 241).
A Good Man is Hard to Find: The Misfit Christianity
Therefore, the Misfit believes that the morals and virtues as perceived in Christianity as very superficial and the cause of hypocrisy among religious people depend on independent, thorough contemplation when making his decisions, but unfortunately ignoring the societal values.
The Misfit plays an intricate part in understanding the goodness and grace used in the short story “A Good man is hard to find.” Moreover, Flannery O’Connor uses the Misfit to illustrate the fine line between good and evil, as he is on the verge of being a good person, which can be attributed to the suffering that he has been through, giving him a relatively more analytical personality as compared to other characters in the short story. He thinks that killing grandmother would be in her best interest, and she was, already, of no good to society at her current state and hypocritical notion about life.
A Good Man is Hard to Find: Bailey
Bailey represents a middle-aged family man whose sole focus is providing for his family and barely bothered by anything else, including the nagging knit-picking of his mother. He is a married man with three children: June Star, John Wesley, and the baby, and being a son to Grandmother. His calm demeanour is a strategy he uses to control the chaos caused by the grandmother and his children.
Things often get out of hand with the family, which is a major resentment and frustration that makes his disengage from family interactions, such as ignoring Grandmother’s suggestions of taking a detour to Georgia and Tennessee until John and June nag him into doing it. Therefore, his calmness makes an ineffective head of the family as per the standards of Grandmother’s Christian beliefs. His lack of control over the entire family grants Grandmother much influence, which costs them their lives. Therefore, he represents the Southern family’s poor leadership, which costs society at large.
A Good Man is Hard to Find: Red Sammy Butts
Red Sammy Butts is an owner of the dining establishment where the family stops for a meal and is a friend to Grandmother. He has similar beliefs and world-view as the grandmother, and regards himself as a good person and thinks that the rest of the society is suffering from a disease of moral decadence and reflects that “A Good Man is Hard to Find,” something that has lead to mistrust throughout the society.
However, it is important to note that Sammy is a business owner who has a keen interest in keeping his customers happy, and he could be playing the grandmother’s self-importance to entertain her and perhaps make profits.
The rest of Bailey’s Family is depicted as a consequence of Grandmother’s self-importance and poor character in general. Bailey’s wife is deemed an insignificant member of society, reflecting Bailey’s lack of concern with reality. Being flat, she seems consumed with nursing the baby and lacks a voice regarding her children’s discipline and the rest of society.
A Good Man is Hard to Find: Self-identity
Her self-identity is closely tied to her family and even offers to die along with the rest of the family when she realizes her eldest child and husband’s death. On the other hand, June Star, as a very confident and rude young girl, gets into a frequent exchange with her grandmother. She is selfish and uncaring and uses her loud personality to get her parents’ attention and the rest of society to manipulate them into doing things her way. She even insults Bobby Lee, “I don’t want to hold hands with him,” June Star said.
“He reminds me of a pig.” (O’Connor, 1993, p 240) John Wesley has an expressive personality, just like June Star and the Grandmother. He has a strong sense of self-confidence that makes him think that he can protect the entire family by simply charging at the Misfit. Additionally, he is very judgmental and collaborates with June Star to force their father into considering the grandmother’s suggestions.
A Good Man is Hard to Find: Conclusion
In conclusion, it is clear that the characters in the story, “A Good Man is Hard to Find,” as used by the Flannery O’Connor, represent the various personalities in the Southern society. Therefore, they play an intricate role in depicting the story’s various themes, key among them being grace and goodness. Bailey and his wife are very calm and collected people, the typical stereo understanding of being good people, were it not for the negative consequences of their lack of control over their family.
On the other hand, their children are expected to be innocent people, but they take advantage of the parent’s calm demeanour and even mirror their grandmother’s mannerisms. The Misfit is on the verge of being a good person due to the suffering he has been through after being ostracized by the rest of the society.
His analytical personality allows him to critically analyze people and society in general, and his evilness comes from his willingness to do what he thinks is good and in the best interest of society, even though it causes short-term suffering. He ended up granting the grandmother exactly what she was anticipating from the trip, being dead beside the road, in an outfit that makes her look like the ultimate lady, as perceived in the Southern Culture.
A Good Man is Hard to Find: Reference
O’Connor, F. (1993). A Good Man is Hard to Find. In L.G. Kirszner & S.R. Mandell (Eds.).