A Good Man is Hard to Find
The use of symbolism that emphasizes a major gap between the two generations, as well as religion, theme, and imagery along with an intriguing story plot make Flannery’s A Good Man is hard to Find one of America’s classic short stories.
Imagery is widely used in O’Connor’s story, which makes the characters and surroundings seem lifelike. In the depiction of the grandmother the reader can visual see the woman sitting in the car waiting on the others to arrive. “Her collar and cuffs were white organdy trimmed with lace and at her neckline she had penned a purple spray of violets containing a sachet.” These are a few phrases of description that O’Conner used to describe the old lady. In the description of the scenery, O’Connor uses metaphors to create a more vivid image in the minds of the readers. As in this example of a field: “…various crops that made row of green lacework on the ground.” Or “The trees were full of silver-white sunlight and the meanest of them sparkled.” The reader might feel that he or she is riding in the backseat of the car along with the grandmother, June Star, and John Wesley. Perhaps he or she is reading a comic book or staring out the window admiring the scenery. Whatever the action that is taken place the readers feel a place in the story either living vicariously though the characters or by being a witness.
The theme “A Good Man is Hard to Find” was discussed between Red Sam and the grandmother over lunch in the Tower caf?. In the grandmothers generation killers, drug-addicts, and thieves were scares or even unheard of situations. Red Sam said to the old lady, “These days you don’t know who to trust. I remember the day you could leave your screen door unlatched. Not no more.” The grandmother and the man continued to talk about better times. They both agreed that a good man is hard to find.
The children and the ways of the grandmother symbolized the division between the generations in the story. The children, June Star and John Wesley, represent a new generation of unruly and disrespectful people. On the other hand, the grandmother represents the strong, southern heritage and stubborn godly beliefs. The two conflict when they discuss going to Tennessee rather than go to Florida, which is what the grandmother wants to do. June Star, who can read the grandmother like a book, remarks after John Wesley told his grandmother to stay at home if she did not want to go to Florida, “She wouldn’t stay at home for a million bucks. Afraid she’d miss something. She has to go everywhere we go.” This is a prime example of the loss of respect the children had for the grandmother. The grandmother does nothing but reply, “Alright, Miss.” The generation gap creates a stir, but the outcome of the two coinciding might be positive.
Religion is a crucial point of the story. Coming to the end of the story, The Misfit and the grandmother are alone together talking. The Misfit’s responses to the grandmother’s prayers advice reveal that these two individuals are on two very different levels with concern to religion. The Misfit has a much deeper understanding of religion and his belief system than does the grandmother. As the two continue in conversion, the Misfit asks the grandmother if it seems right that Jesus was punished and he has escaped punishment. The grandmother responds in the only way she knows how to by clinging to her superficial beliefs about “good blood” and behaving as a gentleman would behave. She has a limited understanding of religion and cannot even begin to connect with the Misfit who by now has gone off about how Jesus raising of the dead threw the world off balance. The two are unable to help each other in these terms. However, when the grandmother observes the Misfit as he was about to cry. She reaches out to him and says, “Why you’re one of my babies. You’re one of my children.” The Misfit, who is obviously affected, rears back and shoots her in the chest three times. Although the grandmother is dead they both have benefited from the encounter. The grandmother has returned to true Christianity by touching and forgiving the Misfit. The misfit comes to grips with himself when the grandmother reaches out toward him.
In conclusion, A Good Man is Hard to Find has been analyzed by English students and teachers for years, perhaps for the religious aspects, imagery, theme, or numerous amounts of symbolism. However, I believe Flannery O’Connor’s main purpose was for religious and symbolic meanings of the diversity in the generations be portrayed.