Views and Characters
Flannery OConnor wrote the short story, “A Good Man is Hard to Find” in the hopes of portraying to the reader the racist views of the time: many of the ideals possess “a kind of holy madness or beauty.” (Kirszner 238). These are the words mentioned in Literature, and express the emotions that OConnor made the grandmother experience in the story.Order now
The story takes on a sort of irony throughout to provide a comedic look at old values and traditions, displaying to the reader how we advance over time. The grandmother very ignorantly describes just how separate dark and light colored people were during the period:
“Oh look at the cute little pickaninny!” she said and pointed to a Negro child standing in the door of a shack.
“Wouldnt that make a picture, now?” she asked and they all turned and looked at the little Negro out of the back window. He waved.
“He didnt have any britches on,” June Star said.
“He probably didnt have any,” the grandmother explained. “Little niggers in the country dont have things like we do.”
The language that is shown in this section of the story clearly demonstrates the difference between what is acceptable, and what is racist.
OConnor clearly provides us that she never has the intent to be racist herself, but rather her characters, possibly an influence in her life, are to blame. The grandmother shows her politeness to June, but also shows her rudeness by describing the dark colored boy with such racist terms, providing the reader with a sense of the “holy madness” that resides within her.
The story contains eleven characters, of which only one illustrates her lack of coming together and recognizing everyone as a whole, rather than as separate races. Despite the obvious difference in language barriers, the grandmother does reflect a soft side:
“Two fellers come in here last week,” Red Sammy said, “driving a Chrysler. It was a old beat-up car but it was a good one and these boys looked all right to me. Said they worked at the mill and you know I let them fellers charge the gas they bought? Now why did I do that?”
“Because youre a good man!” the grandmother said at once.
Of notable importance, the name Sam means to listen, or to hear, supporting the fact of racial differences. (Babycenter) This could be the explanation why the characters, Sam and the grandmother, have the most polite conversation in the entire short story. The two seem to connect on a level, almost as if they had been long lost friends and just acquainted by fate. These two also share a bigoted view of European states, further contributing to the complex views of the grandmother. The conversation between Sam and the grandmother shows the beauty that people with such hatred for others can share.
The story has one final conflict between the grandmother and her valued traditions, taking place between her and the Misfit.
The Misfit is described earlier in the story as someone that people would not want to run into, but the grandmothers strange assessment of certain situations quickly turn her against her own words:
“Listen,” the grandmother almost screamed, “I know youre a good man. You dont look a bit like you have common blood. I know you must come from nice people!”
“Yes mam,” he said, “finest people in the world.” When he smiled he showed a row of strong white teeth. “God never made a finer woman than my mother and my daddys heart was pure gold,” he said.
So while the grandmother seemed to have treated the Misfit as an outsider, she quickly tries to join his side in hopes of righting a wrong.
This is a very peculiar way of dealing with a person who recently escaped from a federal penitentiary. Despite the fact that this is a convicted felon, the grandmother tries to find a similar trait within him that she can relate to, and yet with the dark boy mentioned earlier she uses her intuition to judge the two so they match her beliefs. The grandmother most clearly portrays her “kind of holy madness and beauty,” in an entirely ambiguous fashion.
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