“A Good Man Is Hard To Find”
Flannery O’Connor’s ” A Good Man Is Hard To Find” depicts a family’s encounter with a criminal escaped from a federal penitentiary and their essential relinquishment of life. The family that the story surrounds has planned a trip to Florida for a family vacation. Knowing but unconcerned about the criminal at large, also known as the Misfit, the family voyages onward towards their destination until the trip is abruptly stopped by a totally unnecessary exploration down an unkempt, hilly and dangerous road. The dangerous road combined with the unsuspecting attack of the driver from the grand mothers cat, Pitty Sing, lands the family in a ten-foot deep ditch and in need of help. The family frantically waves down the first car to pass and little do they know that the help that they were hoping to get will lead to an encounter with the Misfit and ultimately to their demise.
O’Connor’s uses contrasting elements of literature to make the story “A Good Man Is Hard To Find” mysterious yet predictable, and undeveloped yet totally defined. Her use of third person unknowing keeps the reader wondering but her use of foreshadowing gives the reader insight to what may occur next. The use of these two elements together keeps the reader predicting, therefore leading to an involvement with the reader and the story. The narrator lets the reader know that a criminal is on the loose, “Here this fellow calls himself The Misfit is aloose from the Federal Pen and headed toward Florida and you read here what it says he did to these people” (302). The next sentence reads, ” I wouldn’t take my children in any direction with a criminal like that aloose in it. I couldn’t answer to my conscience if I did” (303) which foreshadows what is to come later in the story.
O’Connor also leaves many of the characters in the story very undefined except for the main two, The old woman, or the grandmother and the Misfit. O’Connor spent more time depicting the grandmothers outfit in the beginning of the story than she did with all of the undefined characters in the whole story combined, which gave insight to the way the grandmother was, the way she viewed herself and the way her family viewed her; an old, prude, egotistical woman. She did care for her family, but her intentions at heart were only for herself. The misfits image is somewhat concealed, although O’Connor does talk about the looks of the Misfit, the gloominess surrounding the character overshadows his looks and the Misfit seems to be a character standing in the direct sunlight, no color, just the shadow of something evil. The undefined characters of the story only seem to help accelerate the action of the story.
The plot of ” A Good Man Is Hard To Find” really starts to take action when the family crashes their car and in waiting for help sees a car creeping around the bend, and here O’Connor does a good job setting the tone and image.
“The car continued to come on slowly, disappeared around a bend and appeared again, moving even slower, on top of the hill they had gone over. It was a big black battered hearse-like automobile. There were three men in it.” (308) When O’Connor describes the vehicle as black and hearse-like you can tell instantly that the family is in trouble and the Misfit is about to be met. In the eyes of the narrator the family does not know their in trouble until the men exiting the car show they have guns and the grandmother identifies one of the men as the Misfit. Identifying the Misfit may have been the most crucial mistake the grandmother made the whole story, because due to her identifying the man she may have set her family up for death.
The grandmother’s son, Bailey, recognizes this and after the Misfit has been recognized and the story says, ” Bailey turned his head sharply and said something to his mother that shocked even the children. The old lady began to cry and the Misfit reddened.”(309) From this .