An Analysis of Flannery O’Connor’s Story, A Good Man Is Hard to Find
As readers, whenever we read short stories we often consider different things that makes the story unique and insightful for us to read repeatedly. Flannery O’Connor’s short story, “A Good Man is Hard to Find”, is a story about a family that was travelling down from Tennessee to Florida for the summer vacation. While Bailey bringing his family to Florida for a vacation, his mother, The Grandmother, doesn’t seemed to be thrilled going to Florida. The grandmother, who was not thrilled travelling along the family, mentioned about the “The Misfit” in the newspaper being on the loose, which her family did not heed her story and ignored her completely. The grandmother faced her ultimate demise as she met The Misfit and succumbed to her death. In the story of “A Good Man is Hard to Find”, we consider separate ways that Flannery O’Connor’s writing style and techniques in the story particularly point of view, diction, tone, theme and settings that made it unique in the short story.
Whenever we read various kinds of literature particularly short stories, we often consider the different points of view that makes the story extraordinary and how the author/narrator presents the story. The way that story was written by O’Connor was specifically in the third person point of view with limited omniscient. The reason that she wrote the story specifically narrated in the third person point of view with limited omniscient is because the story is centred singularly with the Grandmother. The narrator chose the perspective of the grandmother is because she has some knowledge, which is ready, accessible to begin access it directly. For example, the Grandmother begins to question her son, Bailey, that, “what would you do if this fellow, The Misfit, caught you?” (O’ Connor 2), by asking this question to Bailey, it would suggest us that the Grandmother might have some knowledge about this fugitive. However, due to the limited knowledge about the Misfit as much as the Grandmother would know it from the outside. We might suggest that narrator is foreshadowing that will eventually faced the “unknown” person called, The Misfit. Moreover, O’Connor also wrote the story in a third person point of view with limited perspective for the Misfit being that as a part of the main character in that story, he does gives some thoughts about his actions, intentions and past that made him that way. He said to the Grandmother that, “Then it’s nothing for you to do but enjoy the few minutes you got left the best way you can-by killing somebody…. or doing some other meanness to him. No pleasure but meanness” (27). The Misfit indicates his intentions to kill the Grandmother; however, his intention to kill her wasn’t really known although given his motivation to hurt or even kill someone but he shows his own moral fabric that his thoughts are clouded and his desire to hurt or kill someone becomes the ulterior motive and displays his volition to kill her the Grandmother anyways. Thus, it shows that we can trust the narrator in this story albeit that the author put the limited omniscient point of view those two-main character, the Grandmother and the Misfit. As the point of view is exhibited in the story with great deal of perspective, diction is a factor of how the point of view is carried in the dialogue of the story.
Aside from the point of view perspective of the story, the diction of the words that character delivered the dialogue in the story especially with The Grandmother. O’ Connor’s delivery of the dialogue from the Grandmother was deliberate and simple to the point because she wants us readers to have more focus on the dialogue of the main and supporting characters, instead of the details of the characters. Another feature that is very distinct in the writing style of Flannery O’Connor is that the way she writes her sentences in the story is rather short, plain and simple, because it was done deliberately on purpose to make it simple. For example, in the middle part of the story, O’Connor wrote the description of the grandmother action as, “The old lady settled herself comfortably, removing her white cotton gloves and putting them up with her purse on the shelf in the front of the back window” (4). O’Connor’s writing style is very consistent and effective in the story because she wants the narrator of the story to deliver the story in a clean, evident and descriptive way which it compliments her writing of the short story. In addition, besides the diction of the language that was delivered in the story, the tone of the diction that is delivered in the dialogue of the story is very different and extraordinary in most short stories. Also, throughout the story itself, the Grandmother choice of words are rather uncanny but inflammatory at the same time; although, the Grandmother’s choice of words is rather inflammatory, but we must remember that O’Connor wrote it that kind of diction since it was the commonality of talking to the minorities, especially towards the African-Americans, back in the South during the 1930s and 1940s which racism was an open season. For example, the Grandmother says that, “’Oh look at the cute little pickaninny!’ she said and pointed to a Negro out of the back window” (5), the word “pickaninny” is an offensive term for a young black child and as I said, O’Connor uses this word “pickaninny” carefully and deliberately since this was the jargon and lingo that would describe for the Grandmother towards this young coloured child. O’Connor’s choice of words and diction are very colourful and unique due to her roots that come from South which the jargon of words is quite different than most of the American writers. As diction defines the tone of the language and the point of view of the story that the author exhibits in the story. The setting adds to the
The setting of the short is set in the South primarily in the states of Florida and Georgia. The reason the setting was set in the South was the background of Flannery O’Connor as an author and the historical situation that was place in that time. O’Connor makes some references of the different landmarks such as the Stone Mountains in Georgia. Also, in the story John Wesley made a deprecating reference of both states as, “Tennessee is just a hillbilly dumping ground, and Georgia is a lousy state too” (5), this would suggest that there is some ill will towards these two states that John Wesley would make this deprecating joke since he despises both Tennessee and Georgia. Another example of the setting that O’Connor displays in the story is in the plantation. The reason why she put the Plantation in the story is because of two things, one in a historical sense the plantation have a huge lot of land and they have the graveyard along grounds of the plantation and two, the plantation is used in the story as a foreshadowing of the Grandmother which it gives us the hint the Grandmother would succumbed her demise at the grounds of the plantation at the hands of the Misfit. O’Connor’s choice of setting was so instrumental and critical in a sense achieved the objective of writing the story because it describes about the nature of the setting that was set and portrayed in that specific region of the South. Also, the choice of setting in the South was specifically done in way that we as readers must understand that the story was set in the 1950s.
Flannery O’Connor’s short story, “A Good Man is Hard to Find”, has exceed on various levels of analysing the story from the development of the character, diction and tone of the language that is presented in the short story and also choice of settings that gives us readers the imagination of what to expect in the story. As readers, we learn different perspectives about this story and how it affects our thoughts and understanding that surrounds us. Like the story, “A Good Man is Hard to Find”, we must not befall to the pit of prejudices which succumbs us to our own dereliction and eventually fall to our own demise just like the Grandmother ruined her life in expense of prejudice and ignorance towards because of being uptight towards herself.
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