An Analysis of the Literary Elements to Portray the Theme in A Good Man is Hard to Find, a Short Story by Flannery O’Connor

November 2, 2020 by Essay Writer


The authors use literary elements to directly communicate with their readers. Literary elements make a story interesting and enjoyable to the readers. In the story “A Good Man is Hard to Find”, the author, O’Connor uses various literary elements to highlights the consequences of failing to conform to societal rules (O’Connor, 2015). This paper discusses literary elements employed by the author to portray the theme of the story through the use of conflict, setting and characterization.

In the story, there is an element of conflict between the good and the evil. In the story, the protagonist, the grandmother is portrayed as a person who follows the rules of the society (O’Connor, 2015). She has the positive behaviors which has enabled her to avoid wrong doings thus potential consequences. On the other hand, there is the evil person; the misfit who does not follows the rules of the society. Conflict in this story does arise in the story when the grandmother tries to shape the behaviors of the misfit. The use of conflict in the story highlights the need to make right choices failure to which there are consequences.

Setting is also another literary element employed by the author to portray the theme of the story. The story was set in Atlanta, and it portrays various societal norms during that particular time (O’Connor, 2015). The setting further portrays state infringement of civil rights which triggered civil rights movement which demanded for change. The setting reflects a changing world and criminal activities in the society. The setting support the assumption that rules can be broken at times on justifiable grounds. The advocacy for equal rights was as a result from harsh rules imposed in the society where everyone had to conform to failure to which there were consequences.

O’Connor employed characterization to portray the theme of the story through the main characters the grandmother and the Misfit (O’Connor, 2015). The author describes misfit as a bad person with criminal past but on the other hand is a religious person. On the other hand, the grandmother is a character who portrays moral superiority in the story. The grandmother supports the assumption that if you do good things and conform to all societal rules then you would abstain from different forms of punishments. Misfit portrays the difference between religious rules and ethical rules (O’Connor, 2015). It clearly shows that one must follows societal rules regardless of religious beliefs and background.


In conclusion, in every society, there are individuals who follow the rules while others does not abide to such rules. Despite the fact that there must be rules which governs the conduct of the people in the society, such rules must be fair to everyone to avoid oppressing some groups in the society. The short story by O’ Connor depicted how rules affect different people in the society. It also highlights grounds when the society can demand for change in the case where they are oppressed by the laws.

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