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Literary Analysis Essay of Flannery O'Connor's 'A Good Man is Hard to Find'

0 August 11 2014, 14:30 in Literary Essay

Literary Analysis Essay of Flannery O’Connor’s ‘A Good Man is Hard to Find’

Flannery O’ Connor’s ‘A Good Man is Hard to Find’ is a short story depicting the grandmother’s journey to East Tennessee where they encounter different people until unexpectedly finding Misfit. As readers progress in the story, it shows the attitude and belief system of the grandmother, who continues to judge people based on how ‘good’ they are (O’Connor 1). The story is portrayed from an observer’s standpoint and gives emphasis to how the grandmother ended up giving the death sentence to her family. By dwelling further in the piece, readers are able to identify relevant themes pertaining to moral codes, violence and the interaction between good and evil.

Looking into the story further, one of the underlying features demonstrated by O’Connor is how each character is defined by their own moral codes. This means that each individual in the story is motivated by a set of beliefs that influence their perception and beliefs. For them, it remains to be a reasonable because it fulfills their individual objectives and goals. For instance, the grandmother continues to find ways to judge other people and recognizes the fact that she can do so because of her own moral standing (Fasler 1). Equally, the same can be seen with the Misfit. Even if he continues to bear values that are the opposite of the grandmother, it remains to be a valuable component that enables him to arrive at different decisions.

Violence is also another persistent theme that the story emphasizes to readers. For O’Connor, the experiences of grandmother and her family to the hands of Misfit portray not only the description of physical violence but also that of torture especially on how the antagonist subjected the grandmother to such situation. According to Campos and Franco, they contend that "the author believes that violence is not an end in itself, but an extreme situation, which reveals the nature of man” (218). Arguably, the grandmother knew that their life remains to be on the hands of the Misfit and yet she continued to prompt the man to kill all of them. Her response of seeing the Misfit in the newspaper not only validates the necessity to silence everyone but also emphasize that the end is near.

Lastly, there readers are also able to associate in the story the interaction between good and evil. In this part, it is valuable to point out that O’Connor strives to emphasize the different levels of how each facet is portrayed by the characters. Examining the story further, O’Connor creates depth in both the depiction of the grandmother and Misfit. For instance, the grandmother actions can be analyzed as good however her hypocritical nature also characterizes that of evil. The same can be seen with the Misfit as though his actions can be considered evil, he differs with the grandmother in his conviction and wisdom of the reality (Campos and Franco 221). All these then goes to show the connection between the personal perception of good and evil to that of how society prescribes it. It seeks to show that amidst the individual perception of good and evil, the social component is greater in depicting the reality of man’s interaction with these concepts.

In the end, O’Connor’s piece does not focus alone in demonstrating the violence and murder committed by the Misfit at the end of the story. Rather, it corresponds to the grandmother’s journey to understanding the reality between good and evil. Her actual interaction to what society considers to be evil illustrates that amidst her own perspective that the Misfit remains to be good inside, it was crushed by the act committed against her and the family. It demonstrates that amidst her personal ideals, these are not necessarily reflected unto others. Though this may seem to be the case, the grandmother accepted her fate and recognized the multitude of emotions that she was experiencing at the time of her imminent death.

Works Cited

Campos, Maria Cristina and Franco, Angela Barbosa. ‘Violence in "A Good Man is Hard to Find”: The Faces of Marginality’ Glauks,7.1 (2007): 216-229.

Fassler, Joe. ‘What Flannery O’Connor Got Right: Epiphanies Aren’t Permanent’ The Atlantic,Jan. 2013. Web. Accessed 3 August 2014.

O’Connor, Flannery. A Good Man is Hard to Find,n.d. Web. Accessed 3 August 2014.  


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