A Good Man Is Hard To Find
Gothic Elements in “A Good Man Is Hard to Find” and “The Lottery
Horrific, extraordinary, macabre, or supernatural events and “an atmosphere of mystery and suspense” are the essentials of the American Gothic genre of literature (Phillips). The Southern Gothic sub-genre sets the events in the American South, makes extensive use of irony, and includes eccentric, deeply flawed characters but who possess enough positive characteristics that the reader finds herself empathizing despite herself. Unlike its parent genre, Southern Gothic is not concerned merely with suspense for its own sake “but to explore social issues and reveal the cultural character of the South” (“Southern Gothic”). The tragic short story “A Good Man Is Hard to Find,” by Flannery O’Connor, is typifies the Southern Gothic genre. On the other hand, Shirley Jackson’s allegorical tale “The Lottery” incorporates most of these same elements, but the events do not transpire in the South, negating its classification as Southern Gothic. Furthermore, the most common elements of American Gothic fiction: “ghostly legend[s] … omens, foreshadowing, and dreams … highly charged emotional states … damsels in distress … [and] romantic themes” (Phillips) are mostly absent in “The Lottery,” leading one to wonder if the American Gothic genre is its accurate taxonomy. This discrepancy might lead one to question the value of fitting stories into established genres: one might assume that every work in a genre will be alike and disregard or fail to perceive aspects that do not fit the mold. Nevertheless, by carefully avoiding overgeneralization and setting aside preconceptions in order to examine elements common to the genre, as well as those that do not conform, such classification can give supplemental insight into the text and often reveal deeper meaning.
“The Lottery” describes events that are well outside our everyday experience but seem ordinary enough at first. The action takes place on a pleasant June day in the town square of a small village. The townspeople gather for a lottery that has been an annual tradition for so long they have forgotten many aspects of the ceremony. The reader discovers at the conclusion of the account that the “prize” for this lottery is death by stoning, as the other villagers mercilessly stone the unfortunate winner, Tessie Hutchinson. While these events are doubtless horrific, extraordinary, and macabre, the setting does little to create suspense or mystery, though we are briefly in suspense when Mrs. Hutchinson protests the results—clearly something is not normal about this lottery. After the true nature of the lottery is revealed, it can be seen that there is some foreshadowing in the fearful behavior of the townspeople whose “jokes were quiet and … smiled rather than laughed” and who “kept their distance” from the black box (Jackson 573). Prior to the ending, we are unable to deduce the significance of this, and instead interpret these behaviors as nervous excitement. This façade keeps the reader ignorant of the genuine purpose of the ritual, and serves to better illustrate the senselessness of tradition blindly followed. Jackson says about the setting: “I hoped by setting a particularly brutal ancient rite in the present and in my own village [North Bennington, VT], to shock the story’s readers” (qtd. in “Historical,” par. 1). The sense of normalcy drives home the suggestion to the reader that this could be happening in any town, right now, and their town could be next.
In contrast, “A Good Man Is Hard to Find” is a classic Southern Gothic story. Indeed, one critic portrays O’Connor’s writing as, “biting and grotesquely comic satire of human arrogance and self-certainty” (“O’Connor’s A Good Man,” par. 14). The story tells the heartrending tale of a family holiday to Florida that ends in disaster. The grandmother manipulates the family into taking a side trip to see an old plantation, and they wreck the car on the way, leaving them stranded on a desolate dirt road. Before long, an escaped convict, The Misfit, comes along and massacres the entire family. The events the story describes are exceptionally horrific, extraordinary, and macabre, and consistent with the genre, the author uses foreshadowing to heighten suspense, and as we are not deliberately lulled into feeling all is normal (as in “The Lottery”), it is easier to recognize. The graveyard, with “five or six graves” (there were six family members), the town of “Toombsboro,” and the way the woods “gaped like a dark open mouth,” are a few examples of how O’Connor lets us know something dreadful is about to happen (O’Connor 203; 205; 208).
The characters in “A Good Man Is Hard to Find” also typify Southern Gothic style, in that they are both eccentric and deeply flawed. We first meet a character known only as “the grandmother,” and we immediately see her as a fussy, self-righteous, and quarrelsome shrew. Despite her apparent high opinion of herself, she has no difficulty telling a lie when it suits her, “‘There was a secret panel in this house,’ she said craftily, not telling the truth but wishing that she were” (O’Connor 205). The grandmother also has a tendency to disparage her family rather than show love, and seems to covet wealth as well, telling June Star, “she would have done well to marry Mr. Teagarden,” since he had become wealthy from Coca-Cola stock (O’Connor 204). Another character that displays eccentricity is Red Sammy, proprietor of The Tower, who keeps a “gray monkey about a foot high, chained to a small chinaberry tree” as a pet (O’Connor 204). His chauvinistic tendencies are apparent when he orders his wife around like a slave, and like the grandmother, he only sees the flaws of others, “‘A good man is hard to find,’ Red Sammy said. ‘Everything is getting terrible’” (O’Connor 205). The most peculiar character is The Misfit; even his nickname demonstrates how poorly he fits into society, and he is an excellent example of a grotesque character—certainly “cringe-inducing,” but at the same time, we see how he struggles within himself. When the grandmother pleads with him to pray, we observe his rather bizarre view of religion, “‘Jesus was the only One that ever raised the dead.’ The Misfit continued, ‘and He shouldn’t have done it. He thrown [sic] everything off balance’” (O’Connor 211). His concern with courtesy—even while committing multiple murders, is another of his incongruent traits, “I’m sorry I don’t have on a shirt before you ladies” (O’Connor 209).
Conversely, the characters in “The Lottery” are comparatively normal. Jackson portrays characters such as Joe Summers, the wealthy civic leader of the town who administers the lottery, and Old Man Warner, who is the staunchest advocate of the lottery and tradition, as virtually stock characters to heighten the contrast of the horrifying reality of the lottery. This disparity between the ostensibly ordinary citizens of the village and the unabashed brutality that ensues makes evident that the events could occur anywhere. Then again, one character we see that is quite consistent with the American Gothic genre is the “damsel in distress,” in Tessie Hutchinson; while not technically a damsel, she fills the role, although there is no heroic knight willing or able to rescue her, as the custom is of greater importance to the townspeople than individualism or heroism.
The characteristic of rich irony is especially present in “The Lottery.” The entire plot is ironic, with the whole story line unfolding contrary to expectations. The idyllic depiction of the scene as “clear and sunny, with the fresh warmth of a full-summer day” with “flowers … blossoming profusely” and “richly green” grass furthers this illusion that things are ordinary and tranquil (Jackson 572). When the populace begins to gather on the square, the men are “speaking of planting and rain, tractors and taxes” and the women are gossiping, everyone displaying typical small-town behaviors that seem even more normal because of the objective and detached style of the narration (Jackson 573). In perhaps the most ghoulish irony, we see Mrs. Delacroix, after chatting amiably with Mrs. Hutchinson in the beginning, urging her to “be a good sport,” when her family wins the lottery; later, when the stoning begins, she picks up a stone so big she must use both hands, and even encourages others to “hurry up” (Jackson 576-7). Verbal irony is also used to further reinforce the absurdity of institution when Mr. Summers asks if Mrs. Dunbar has a grown boy to draw for her even though “Mr. Summers and everyone else in the village knew the answer … it was the business of the official of the lottery to ask” (Jackson 575).
Consistent with Southern Gothic tradition, irony is pervasive in “A Good Man Is Hard to Find” as well. Similar to the “The Lottery,” the story begins with no hint as to the events to come, the grandmother even proclaiming it “a good day for driving” (O’Connor 203). Darker irony surfaces after the accident when June Star says with disappointment, “But nobody’s killed,” which of course is true at that moment, but soon will not be (O’Connor 207). Another example of irony is the grandmother herself, a woman that to external appearances has it all together with her “white cotton gloves … navy blue straw sailor hat … and a navy blue dress” (O’Connor 202-3). Ironically, she dresses in this fashion so that “in case of an accident, anyone seeing her dead on the highway would know at once that she was a lady” (O’Connor 203). As discussed earlier, the grandmother has no problem with relativistic morality. She is also the proximate cause of the family’s misfortune because of her insistence on the side trip; she then seals their fate when she blurts out that she recognizes The Misfit, which is ironic in view of the fact that she had been admonishing the family about the risk of traveling with The Misfit “aloose [sic]” (O’Connor 202). This contrast between how the grandmother seems and how she actually is makes her redemption at the end of the story, when she finally shows sincere Christ-like love, all the more poignant.
In addition to the plentiful irony within both stories, the titles themselves are ironic as well. The title of “The Lottery” has a positive connotation of an opportunity to win money or prizes, but this Lottery awards only death. Upon reading the title of “A Good Man Is Hard to Find,” we believe that the story will be about finding a good man, or perhaps a man who becomes good in the course of the story. Ironically, it is a good woman we find, and that merely because of the influence of The Misfit, who is anything but a good man. Each story uses irony abundantly and in different ways, and each absolutely exemplifies this attribute of the American Gothic genre.
While both stories use many of the elements of the Gothic literary tradition, clearly “A Good Man Is Hard to Find” conforms much more closely to the characteristics of the American Gothic genre, and specifically, the Southern Gothic sub-genre. “The Lottery,” with its lack of a Southern setting and eccentric, flawed characters is certainly not Southern Gothic, and while it has few of the elements typically seen in American Gothic fiction, its horrific and macabre events and biting irony eliminate uncertainty as to its classification as such. In analyzing the Gothic components of the stories, it becomes clear that despite being classified in different ways, these stories have something in common; in fact, both stories are modern parables, as each contains a hidden lesson, revealed by thorough analysis. “The Lottery” forces us to question the virtue of tradition, in light of the indefensible outcome of the story. In a similar manner, “A Good Man Is Hard to Find” shows us that above all it is not our outward appearance that makes us a good man or woman, but rather the love that we have for others.
“Historical Context: ‘The Lottery’.” EXPLORING Short Stories. Detroit: Gale, 2003. Discovering Collection. Gale. Pellissippi State Tech. Comm. Coll. 4 July 2009 <http://find.galegroup.com/srcx/infomark.do?&contentSet=GSRC&type=retrieve&tabID=T001&prodId=DC&docId=EJ2112500143&source=gale&userGroupName=tel_a_pstcc&version=1.0>.
Jackson, Shirley. “The Lottery.” Literature: Reading Fiction, Poetry, and Drama. Ed. Robert DiYanni. 6th ed. New York: McGraw, 2007. 572-578.
O’Connor, Flannery. “A Good Man Is Hard to Find.” Literature: Reading Fiction, Poetry, and Drama. Ed. Robert DiYanni. 6th ed. New York: McGraw, 2007. 202-212.
“O’Connor’s A Good Man Is Hard to Find Is Published, 1955.” DISCovering U.S. History. Online ed. Detroit: Gale, 2003. Discovering Collection. Gale. Pellissippi State Tech. Comm. Coll. 6 July 2009 <http://find.galegroup.com/srcx/ infomark.do?&contentSet=GSRC&type=retrieve&tabID=T001&prodId=DC&docId=EJ2104240958&source=gale&userGroupName=tel_a_pstcc&version=1.0>.
Phillips, Stacy. “Typical Elements of American Gothic Fiction.” Gothic Fiction and Poetry: An Online Teaching Resource. Middle TN State U. 11 July 2009 <http://frank.mtsu.edu/~saw2z/gothicfictionweb/AmericanGothic.htm>.
“Southern Gothic.” Vade Mecum: A GRE for Literature Study Tool. 7 Dec. 2008. Duke U. 4 July 2009 <http://www.duke.edu/~tmw15/southern%20gothic.html>.
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.
The Analysis of Life and Soul in “A Good Man Is Hard to Find”
Flannery O’Connor’s short story appears to be greatly influenced by the time and place in which she grew up, and thus, “A Good Man is Hard to Find” lends itself easily in examination through biographical criticism. Psychoanalytic criticism can be used in combination with biographical criticism to more competently interpret and explain characters within the short story and their thoughts, actions, dialogues, and traits. “A Good Man is Hard to Find” by O’Connor can be analyzed using biographical criticism and psychoanalytic criticism in order to gain a more valuable understanding of the characters within the work and the connections between O’Connor’s real life and the work.
The setting of “A Good Man is Hard to Find” is a place that is very familiar to O’Connor: The great state of Georgia. O’Connor was a Georgia native, and her work greatly reflects the fondness she felt for the South. O’Connor vividly describes keystone characteristics of driving through South Georgia: She pointed out interesting details of the scenery: Stone Mountain; the blue granite that in some places came up to both sides of the highway; the brilliant red clay banks slightly streaked with purple; and the various crops that made rows of green lace-work on the ground. The trees were full of silver-white sunlight and the meanest of them sparkled. O’Connor is revealing the beauty of Georgia as she sees it. It is implied that the grandmother in “A Good Man is Hard to Find” is the voice of O’Connor’s passion for the South, particularly Georgia and Tennessee. While the grandmother as a whole does not directly represent O’Connor, she speaks to the state of Georgia in such a personal and endearing manner that cannot help but to be attributed to O’Connor’s own feelings.
O’Connor’s great pride for the state of Georgia continues to be apparent through the grandmother’s argument against her grandson John Wesley’s want to “go through Georgia fast so [they] won’t have to look at it much.” The grandmother boastfully told John Wesley that “Tennessee has the mountains and Georgia has the hills.” She also told him that him that he should have more pride in his native state. A strong sense of O’Connor’s ties to her own native state can be perceived to affect this work as a whole. The grandmother’s attitudes toward the South may reflect O’Connor’s own, but the grandmother herself does not represent O’Connor or her actual life. The character of the grandmother, however, may be based on or drawn from a person that O’Connor knew in her real life.
Being that the grandmother’s character is a somewhat stereotypical woman from the 1950s era South, it can be assumed that there is some sort of real life influence to her character’s nature. The grandmother’s loyalty toward ladylikeness, her demanding personality, and her racist comments are to be expected for a woman of her time and place. The grandmother’s attitude toward African Americans was the common sentiment among white people of that time period in the rural South. A major controversy in the 1950s was that of racial segregation and civil rights for African Americans. The grandmother in “A Good Man is Hard to Find” illustrates an outlook on African Americans that offers an honest look at how the society around O’Connor viewed issues of race or class. The grandmother refers to the African American boy in degrading terms that immediately undermine his credibility as a human by her standards: “Oh look at the cute little pickaninny!” she said and pointed to a Negro child standing in the door of a shack. “Wouldn’t that make a picture, now?” […] “He probably didn’t have any [britches],” the grandmother explained. “Little riggers in the country don’t have things like we do. If I could paint, I’d paint that picture,” she said. The grandmother acts as though she is observing an animal at a zoo when she is looking at this boy in his doorway. She places herself so high above the boy that it makes looking at the boy on his steps similar to looking at a picture. This is a significant moment in that it reveals some of the ever-so-moral grandmother’s realistically feeble morality. The narrator’s reference to the boy as a “negro” is also reflective of the time period and state of segregation in which O’Connor wrote this story in. The term “negro” would have been socially acceptable and politically correct. The racial language and descriptions used by the narrator and the grandmother are useful in understanding the moment of the work.
Being perceived as ladylike is very important to the grandmother. When preparing to go to Florida with her son and his family, she made sure to dress in very nice clothing and was judgmental of Bailey’s wife’s more casual clothing choices. The narrator says, The children’s mother still had on slacks and still had her head tied up in a green kerchief, but the grandmother had on a navy blue straw sailor hat with a bunch of white violets on the brim and a navy blue dress with a small white dot in the print. Her collars and cuffs were white organdy trimmed with lace and at her neckline she had pinned a purple spray of cloth violets containing a sachet. In case of an accident, anyone seeing her dead on the highway would know at once that she was a lady. The way others perceive her is of top priority to the grandmother. Her need to conform to her own ladylike standards concurs with thoughts of the time. Being that the grandmother is described as being an old woman in the 1950s, it can be assumed that she was raised in a time period that placed particular emphasis on women’s appearance and dress. Her attentiveness to being ladylike is also of importance because it shows readers how the grandmother wishes to present herself. The readers see that grandmother wants to be viewed as a good woman.
Through the use of Freud’s Tripartite Psyche, readers may gain a more thorough understanding the grandmother’s character. The id, ego, and superego aid in rationalizing the actions, thoughts, and dialogue of the grandmother’s character. The grandmother’s id is most apparent when she lies to her grandchildren, John Wesley and June star, about a made up secret panel in an old house she used to live in. The id is also dominant when the grandmother decides not to speak up when she realizes the house that she is leading everyone to is in Tennessee and not Georgia. The grandmother shows no sign of care for consequences or morality when it comes to lying to the children or keeping her mouth shut about the house. The ego of the grandmother is evident in the moment that she realizes the house is in fact not in Georgia. This realization causes her to jump and scare the cat, Pitty Sing, which subsequently causes Bailey to wreck the car. This slight slip up was her ego’s way of trying to clear her of the lies that she told. Her ego wants her to stay honest. The superego of the grandmother is not apparent until she is in her final moments. Her conscience comes to life when she is on the business-end of The Misfit’s gun. The grandmother says, “Why you’re one of my babies. You’re one of my own children!” She reaches out and touches The Misfit, and he shoot her three times. The grandmother’s superego is releasing itself in the form of an epiphany. She realizes that error of her judgmental and hypocritical ways, but it is too late.
In conclusion, “A Good Man is Hard to Find” by Flannery O’Connor is a superior work to analyze using both the biographical and psychoanalytic schools of criticism. Both schools of criticism aid in the expansion of the text and leave room for explanation of the author’s relation to the text, characters within the work, and social and economic classes of the time and place. By using Freud’s Tripartite Psyche, readers may expand on characters like the grandmother and gain a deeper understanding of why characters have certain attitudes or do certain things.
An Analysis of the Agent of Grace Archetype in the Character of the Misfit in A Good Man is Hard to Find, a Short Story by Flannery O’Connor
Flannery O’Connor is quite well known for her usage of the “agent of grace” archetype. This character, who is not necessarily a good person, is used to gift divine mercy onto the main character who up until that point had been blind (sometimes with glasses) to something in life. In O’Connor’s short story A Good Man is Hard to Find the character of the Misfit does serve as an agent of grace to the grandmother and the grandmother does indeed truly receive grace from the Misfit. Many critics do not believe that the Misfit, a known serial killer, could be such an agent of grace.
However, upon digging deeper one will find that even down to his name he is very Christlike. Jesus himself is a misfit and was unable to truly fit in, and was constantly persecuted as well until he was crucified. O’Connor is clearly using a direct opposite of Chris to show redemption and grace coming from even the most unlikely of people. Not a soul in Jerusalem in the times of Jesus would have predicted that grace would come from a nobody who is the son of a carpenter. In addition, the Misfit does what Christ himself did which is show people what they truly appear to be and that is why the Grandmother gets grace. Jesus in all of the biblical stories is known for metaphorically holding a mirror to people and allowing them to see themselves the way God does and it is in this way that grace happens. Numerous times the grandmother fails in her faith and even agrees that “maybe he didn’t raise the dead”(O’Connor 12) however when she finally touches the Misfit, who is a Christ figure, she is able to see herself as she is and gain grace. It is very similar to the story of Jesus and the bleeding woman and O’Connor is using this parallel and her Catholic background to show that grace is given even in a split second to the grandmother. In this bible story, Jesus is approached by a woman who has been living a life of sin and is bleeding quite terribly. As Jesus walks through the crowds the woman “reached out and touched him”(O’Connor 12), and Jesus upon being touched “sprang back as if a snake had bitten him”(O’Connor 12) and Jesus gave this woman divine grace. It is in this manner that just like the bleeding woman the old woman receives grace.
Some literary critics believe that this supposed grace is just “cheap grace”, an idea from theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer, and that the grandmother “seems to be merely worthy of cheap grace”(Fox 11). At other points critics believe that since “her head only clears for an “instant”(Fox 10) and that it “is simply not enough time to undergo a complete spiritual transformation”(Fox 10). Both of these assumptions, however much merit may appear to them, are completely false. The argument that the grandmother receives only cheap grace is ludicrous because of the fact that many in the bible who have become saints have received grace in a similar manner, and theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer himself states in his book Nachfolge (Discipleship) that costly grace “is costly because it compels a man to submit to the yoke of Christ and follow him”(Bonhoeffer). This is exactly what is able to happen with the grandmother because during her moment of epiphany, as short as it is, she is shown how she truly is by the Misfit and submits to Christ.
Now to the second argument, that it is impossible for grace to take place within such a constraint of time which is also ludicrous. In the Bible there are many instances of terrible people, suffering people who touched Jesus and were instantly changed and healed. Paul the famed apostle was a Christian hunter himself and was blinded instantaneously by the light of God and was given costly grace very similar to the grandmother, as was Zacchaeus, the bleeding woman and a host of crippled people. The bottom line of this story is not that grace is unattainable, but that grace is given to all who give themselves to the Lord and realize they need him in their lives which by the end of the story the grandmother does. She achieves this final grace in the moments of desperation of her last bit of life just before her death. This indicates that O’Connor’s usage of a typical Christ figure is apparent in this short story just like her others.
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
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.
The Theme of Conformation to Moral Standards and Thinking Before Acting in A Good Man is Hard to Find, a Short Story by Flannery O’Connor
In the story “A Good Man is Hard to Find”, the author gives a story of a conflict between grandmother and a criminal who engage in evil activities. In this story the grandmother is portrayed as a good person who is morally upright whose behaviors were influenced by the background where she was raised (O’Connor, 2015). In the theme of good man, the definition of being good was portrayed as being gullible, and a poor decision maker (O’Connor, 2015). In the story, the Misfit is also regarded as good based ability to conform to moral standards that are generally accepted in the society. Therefore, the theme of “A Good Man is Hard to Find” is the ability of a person to conform to moral standards and reason before acting on anything, because choices has its consequences (O’Connor, 2015).
The story “The Hanging stranger” talks about the protagonist Ed Loycen who encountered a horrific incident which elicited different reactions from colleagues (Dick, 2014). While working at a repair store, Ed saw a dead body and immediately informed his colleagues. The theme of the story is portrayed in form of symbols and fear of a dead person, and also the procedures involved when handling critical situations. The major themes portrayed is suspicion and fear of mystical-religious elements who would deliver punishments through hanging if one does what is considered wrong in the society. Therefore, the people had to weigh between doing good and evil because of its potential consequences. The hanging stranger is portrayed as a strong message to the wrong doers of potential consequences of their actions (Dick, 2014).
“All Summer in a Day” is fictional story about children from the planet Venus who are raised by “rocket men” parents (Bradbury, 1992). In Venus, the children had never seen the summer as the sun was since ounce every seven years. The protagonist in the story is Margot from the planet earth who is despised because she does not belong to Venus (Bradbury, 1992). The major theme portrayed in the story is jealously. Margot being from another planet was hated by other children because his views about the sun were not accommodated by those in Venus. Her inability to behave and follow the rules of the Venus society resulted in violence treatment she received from other children.
Review of Flannery O’Connor’s Book, A Good Man Is Hard to Find
We live in a world that is characterized by good and evil, and as most individuals struggle with being good and performing good acts, others are comfortable exercising evil and performing bad acts. The idea of good and evil is depicted in most artistic pieces ranging from paintings, films, music, and literature. Interestingly, everyone has individual perceptions regarding good and evil, while some draw their ideas from philosophical thought, others base their ideas on religious teachings and practices. One such literary piece is the book, A Good Man is hard to Find, written by the famous American novelist Flannery O’Connor. Influenced by her religious background and her home region, the O’Connor narrates the story of a family who are murdered while taking a vacation trip.
O’Connor is well famed for her emphasis of grotesque stories and characterization, which is considered as being realist, as opposed to, idealist (Connie 74-78). Her literary works were, greatly, influenced by the South, and she uses this setting to bring out her ideas in every literary piece she produces. Accordingly, the author uses her religious background when judging moral and ethical behavior, and for that reason, her literary pieces of work have good versus evil as their central themes. Using morally flawed characters, as well as, presumably morally upright characters, the author presents intriguing stories that capture the interests of her audience at all times (Connie 74-78). More specifically, the novel, A Good Man is Hard to Find, the story is set in Georgia, with the year and time having no explicit definition or designation. The story takes place in two main places: the first place is Georgia, whereas the second setting is on a roadside, more specifically in a ditch. Using these two settings, the author tells the story of how a family was murdered during their trip for a vacation in Florida.
This paper presents a literary analysis of the book, A God Man is Hard to Find, by Flannery O’Connor. The paper provides an analysis of characterization, and point of views as brought out in the novel. The paper also examines how the author uses symbolism, irony, foreshadowing, and similes to elucidate and enhance the theme of good versus evil.
In literature, the characters refer to the people in the text, whose story the author is keen on narrating to readers and audience. In view of that, characterization refers to the author’s development and presentation of characters in the novel (Peterson 1). Just like all other writers, O’Connor has employed two main methods of presenting her audience with her characters in the novel, A Good man is Hard to Find. These methods include direct characterization and indirect characterization. With direct characterization, the narrator directly informs readers about the characters in the novel (Peterson 1). This information can range from providing a description of the characters, as well as, the use of names and overt commentary. Direct characterization in the novel, A Good Man is hard to Find, is presented in two ways including an analysis of the characters by the author, as well as, naming. The author gives Misfit his name as an illustration of his personality and life experiences. Indirect characterization has also been utilized for the novel’s story development, and the author allows each of her characters to reveal themselves and their personalities as the story continues. O’Connor manages to bring this out through the provision of details such as, appearance, mannerisms, as well as, speech (Peterson 1). Evidently, two main characters are revealed in the novel including the grandmother and the misfit. Whereas the grandmother is brought out as the protagonist, the misfit is obviously the antagonist in the story. As a character, the grandmother is the focal point of the story, and she because she considers herself as morally upright, she constantly passes judgment to other characters and criticizes their activities. She does not judge her own ways, something that she later comes to regret immediately before her death. The misfit, on the other hand, is the character that seems to lack moral conscience and is constantly in conviction. Observably, the misfit is brought out as the strongest character in the book in relation to disposition, as he possesses characteristics that all other characters do not.
Point of View
The novel, A Good man is Hard to Find, is written from the third person or omniscient point of view. Accordingly, it is the grandmother’s thoughts and point of view that the readers have access to, thus revealing the use of the third person point of view in the novel. In the novel, O’Connor reports the grandmother’s thoughts, as well as, her actions and conversations thus introducing a new point of view namely, the limited omniscient point of view. An example of this is revealed where the author writes “she knew that Bailey would not be willing to lose anytime looking at an old house” (O’Connor 35). This statement reveals to the readers the grandmothers thoughts about her son Bailey. Misfit is the only other character whose actions, and thoughts that the readers are introduced to, thus building on the third person point of view. However, readers get to learn about Misfit’s ideas in the last part of the novel after he has murdered the family. In one of his thoughts regarding the grandmother, Misfit states, “She would have been a good woman,.. if it had been somebody there to shoot her every minute of her life” (O’Connor 89). This statement reveals Misfit’s thoughts about the grandmother, as well as, good versus evil.
Symbolism is one of the literary elements that O’Connor has employed in telling the story. In essence, symbolism refers to the process of giving a person, object. or event a meaning that is outside its literal meaning (Peterson 6). Put simply, it is a literary element, which involves the use of representation or imagery. A closer examination of the novel reveals the use of various symbols including grandmother’s hat, Misfit’s car, Toombsboro, the dark forest and the sunless cloudless sky. More specifically, Toombsboro, the town which grandmother and her family pass before their death is used symbolically in the novel. Ideally, Toombsboro is the old plantation where grandmother has memories about (O’Connor, 85). However, the name of the plantation, as well as, the events that take place immediately after passing the plantation reveal something deeper than an old plantation. The name of the plantation suggests doom and misfortune, thus the death of the grandmother and her family.
O’Connor also employs the use of Irony as a literary element in her novel, A Good man is hard to Find. In literature, irony occurs when one of the characters fails to perceive the obvious (Peterson 5). More specifically, the character fails to understand what the reader and the audience automatically understands when reading the novel. Irony in the novel is demonstrated in the way the grandmother considers herself as a proper and morally upright lady, something that the readers would not consider as true. To the readers, the grandmother actions and thoughts bring her out as a different person from who she think of herself. She is manipulative, she lies and has racist tendencies, and the character sees herself as the opposite of this. However, towards the end of the novel, the character soon realizes that she is not who she considers herself to be but she dies before she can make any changes.
In literary writing, foreshadowing is a literary technique where the author uses his characters to foretell the activities that are likely to occur in the novel. Evidently, foreshadowing is O’Connor’s main choice in relation to literary techniques and the author uses the character of the grandmother to foreshadow the tragic developments that occur later on in the novel. An example of the use of foreshadowing is illustrated when the grandmother wears her best clothes and hat for the trip with the excuse that something tragic might happen to the family during the trip. The grandmother states, “in case of an accident, anyone seeing her dead on the highway would know at once that I was a lady” (O’Connor 6). This statement foretells the death of the entire family in the hands of the Misfit, which occurs in the last section of the book.
In the novel, O’Connor also utilizes a number of literary devices to tell her story. Evidently, the author makes her words contribute to the effect of the story through the use of similes. The author’s use of similes in the novel both demonstrates her literary skills, as well as, the events taking place in the novel. An example of a simile used in the novel is in the description of the children’s mother. “She was a young woman in slacks, whose face was as broad and as innocent as a cabbage”(O’Connor 24). This simile, illustrate the gullibility and incompetence of the mother, which makes it easy for others to manipulate her.
In her novel, A Good Man is Hard to Find, Flannery O’Connor employs the use of various literary elements, techniques and devices to narrate her story. These literary elements and devices include irony, foreshadowing, symbolism, and similes among other things. Because the central theme of the novel is good versus evil, the author uses these literary elements, techniques, and devices to tell her story. Observably, the author effectively utilized these elements, techniques, and devices to communicate the theme of good versus evil in the story.
Flannery O’Connor’s View of the Representation of Fallacy behind Uprightness as Depicted In His Story, A Good Man Is Hard To Find
Flannery O’Connor is considered as the one of the most important American gothic writer in the 20th century. As readers, we read different short stories that we often consider the different things that make the story insightful and interesting. In Flannery O’Connor’s, “A Good Man is Hard to Find”, a family travels to Florida for the summer vacation. Bailey, son of the Grandmother, brings his family to Florida for a vacation, however Bailey’s mother, The Grandmother, doesn’t seem to be thrilled about going to Florida. The Grandmother is reading a newspaper mentions “The Misfit”, a fugitive criminal who escaped at the Federal Penitentiary, being on the loose, which her family did not heed her story and ignored her completely. The Grandmother faces her ultimate demise as she meets The Misfit to her death. In Flannery O’Connor’s “A Good Man is Hard to Find”, she achieved addressing the misconceptions of the meaning of goodness by using the third person point-of-view limited, also the upbringings of the Grandmother which affected her attitude and perception of her life whereas the choice of setting in the story symbolises the fears and uncertainties of the world.
The usage of third person point-of-view limited allows the story to focus solely on the Grandmother’s limited knowledge, because the Grandmother has some knowledge of the information within herself but she doesn’t share it to readers, because she wants it to keep it to herself and withholding it. For example, the Grandmother’s point of view is shown by illustrating, “‘The children have been to Florida before,’ the old lady said. ‘You all ought to take them somewhere else for a change so they would see different parts of the world and be broad. They never have been to east Tennessee.’” (413). The Grandmother’s point of view selfishly insists Bailey, to go Tennessee rather than travelling down to Florida, asserting that going to Tennessee is a better place for a family vacation and claiming that travelling to Tennessee is a good place for a vacation and easier travel than Florida. Her tone in this dialogue is regarded a very unladylike behaviour which it shows that the Grandmother has a façade which reflects through her behaviour and attitude which it exposes her egotism and pettiness of herself. Similarly, her point-of-view is limited because the story is mainly focused on the Grandmother. Moreover, the Grandmother is annoyed at her family for not listening what she has to say thus prompting her to be more bothersome to the rest of her family by rambling about things she can think of such as the day being, “a good day for driving, neither too hot nor too cold, and she cautioned Bailey that the speed limit was fifty-five miles an hour and the patrolmen hid themselves behind billboards……sped out after you before you had a chance to slow down” (414). At this point, the Grandmother begins to irritate her own family and to her son, Bailey, whilst he is driving the car bothering Bailey to b a good driver. This also means that the Grandmother’s insistence of being perceived of being “good” reflects on the story as it exhibits itself on her own point of view which it focuses on her but the narrator has a limited perspective of other characters which it shows in the dialogue of the story. Also, the Grandmother’s point of view reflects on the tone of the dialogue that she shows in the what the Grandmother really is as a character, character details tells us the attitude of the character in which their behaviour and attitude reveals in the story.
The character details are about the actions and knowledge that is known to us or even information that is withheld to us readers. The reason the Grandmother grown up in that period is because women in that era are ought to take care of their children, teach them the proper Christian values and teach them proper etiquettes and mannerisms towards others. However, in the case of the Grandmother, her actions do not reflect her attitude nor mannerism but rather she has shown ignorance and arrogance towards herself and to her family as well. For example, The Grandmother made a comment to her grandson, John Wesley, about those two states, Georgia and Tennessee, she said that, “‘If I were a little boy,’ said the grandmother, ‘I wouldn’t talk about my native state that way. Tennessee has the mountains and Georgia has the hills’” (414). This dialogue reflects on how the Grandmother is showing ignorance towards her grandson and it shows her action reflects her personality and thus, it gives us indication that the Grandmother is putting herself high and mighty and it exhibits that she is conceitful person. Furthermore, her arrogance is exhibited in the story as she said to Red Sammy that, “People are certainly are not nice like they used to be” (417). Her arrogance shows how the Grandmother think lowly towards others and by saying that “people are certainly not nice”, indicates to us that the Grandmother is behaving in a condescending manner which it exposes her conceitful behaviour and thus, the perception of goodness it revolves around being the “good” man and others are not so much that “good” in her own view. Setting determines the story’s location, in which our thoughts are being challenged to faced the predicament.
The reason why the author chooses the dirt road as a choice of setting in the story is because the dirt road is where we face our ultimate demise in this world. As suppose to a forest, the forest is our unknown territory where we faced our own uncertainties, doubts and fears of the world. But also, the dirt road has a connotation of our own end of our mortal life here on Earth which O’Connor uses the side of the dirt road as a choice of setting to remind us readers that this where the Grandmother faced her demise. For example, O’Connor describes that, “The dirt road was hilly and there were sudden washes in it and sharp curves on dangerous embankments” (419). This description of the dirt road represents in this story is a representation of a foreshadowing which the “embankments” are used to prevent the rivers to flood in a certain area, but also, embankments are used to signify as what might be the future resting place for the Grandmother and her family. The author also uses the ditch as a final place where the Grandmother meets the Misfit and eventually becomes the downfall of her. The ditch in the story is describes as tall, dark and deep which it represents as a grave. The choice of setting is a huge part in the development of the story as it connects the dots of the different ideas that author exhibits in the story.
Flannery O’Connor achieved by writing the story of, “A Good Man is Hard to Find”, as we are learnt the misconceptions of the idea of “goodness” in the story by identifying the point of view of the Grandmother which she has limited perspective towards, attitude and mannerisms that affected the Grandmother to find the definition of “goodness” in her life. Also, the meaning of embankment and ditch which it defines our resting place for the sake of goodness of our life. The perception of goodness does not come on how we behave or act outside but rather, the definition of goodness is about living the life with good deeds not how we behave or act prim and proper in our lives.
Evaluation of a Good Man Is Hard To Find Vs. Cathedral
- Choose two stories we read this semester and discuss point of view in each. How are the two pov’s handled differently? How and why are they important to the two stories?
- Discuss religion, symbolism, or class distinction in “A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings” and “The Hunger Artist”. Compare and contrast how religion, symbolism, or class distinction is used in each.
Point of view plays a major role in telling a story. It can allow you to see an overview of what all characters are thinking, like with an omniscient narrator, or it can limit you to personally knowing one character in particular. The difference in perspectives allows a story to be told in unique ways. One writer other might prefer to tell a story through the eyes of a character, and another might simply narrate the story themselves. The stories “A Good Man Is Hard to Find” and “Cathedral” are both told by different points of view. Having a different point of view makes each story unique, and it allow the writers to tell their stories in different ways.
“A Good Man is Hard to Find” is written by Flannery O’Connor, and it tells a story of a family vacation that turn into a deadly encounter with an escaped convict. It is written with a third person point of view point of view that allows the narrator to be able to know the thoughts and feelings of the characters, which allows the readers to better know each of the characters. The importance of this point of view in this story is that it allows the readers to know the intentions of the characters actions. This is especially important in the story in the encounter with the Misfit. A lot of the information about the encounter comes from the third-person narrator explaining the thoughts and feelings of the characters. Without this explanation, the reader would have a lot less information to be able to understand and, in a way, experience the encounter for themselves. The telling of the story in third-person likes this simply makes it possible to see every side of the story, not just through one characters perspective.
“Cathedral” is written by Raymond Carver, and it tells a story of a woman who is long friends with a blind man, but her husband is somewhat jealous and judgmental of the blind man. However, her husband’s opinion changes after he gets to know the blind man personally. Carver tells this story in first-person unlike O’Connor. The use of first-person allows the reader to be metaphorically put into the shoes of the man. This makes understand the man’s thoughts easy and even personable. This way of telling a story allows the reader to relate to the character on a different level than with third-person point of view. This point of view is important to the story because it makes the simply story a very personal one. It treats the reader as the man in the story, and it allows them to learn first-hand the lessons that the man is taught by the blind man.
Religion in Gabriel Marquez’s story “A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings” and Franz Kafka’s “A Hunger Artist” is used in an interesting way in both of the short stories. Marquez’s story has a fare bit more direct religious elements in it than Kafka’s does, considering Kafka’s is more of an allegorical approach. However, they both include religious thoughts and ideas, and they each use them in a different way to get their point across.
Kafka’s story, “A Hunger Artist”, is a story about a man who sits in a cage and starves himself in order to gain attention and fame. Although the story itself doesn’t religion, it implies and alludes religious ideas. This story is basically an allegory of how people reject religion in the modern world. It makes allusions to stories in the Bible, particularly the story of Jesus being tempted in the wilderness when he fasted for forty days. The Hunger Artist’s life is a parallel to Jesus’ life. The Hunger Artist wore black like priests, and preformed “miracles” in front of people. The most similar thing between them is that both their deaths were displayed in a public manner. However, the way Kafka twists the story suggests that he had a negative view on the effectiveness of religion to help people. The twist that Kafka takes on the allegory is that the people watching simply did not care about the Hunger Artist’s suffering. This somewhat suggests that that Kafka might feel as if religion might not belong in the world. I feel like Kafka sees the Hunger Artist’s efforts as pointless because he is so quickly forgotten, and I would even argue Kafka is trying to say the same thing about Christ, which isn’t true.
In Marquez’s story, “A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings”, he tells of an old man with wings who is taken in by a couple, Pelayo and Elisenda. At first the couple simply wanted to help the strange man, but quickly after they thought he might be an angel, they locked him up. Marquez directly made religion a part in this story through Father Gonzaga, a priest. Comes to see the angel to make a decision if the old man really was an angel or not, but he fails to come to a conclusion. I think Marquez adds this in to show how distant the people were from God. Even the priest couldn’t tell if it was an angel or not. The old man was badly mistreated by those who came to see him locked up. He was never revered as an angel, even though that’s what they advertised him to be. Once again, I think Marquez just wanted to show how distant the world was from God, as well as how flawed and messed up people are.
A Look at the Family Setting In the Book, A Good Man Is Hard To Find
The short story “A good man is hard to find” was written by Flannery O’Connor and published in 1955. In this story you have a very dysfunctional family. The members of this family include the grandmother, her son Bailey, an eight year old boy named John Wesley, a little girl named June Star, and the mother of the children, a character that remains nameless thought out the story. The Mother of the children also has a baby.
So what is so dysfunctional about this family, well for starters, let’s look at the children and the “mother of the children.” John Wesley and June Star have the same mother but different last names, and therefore different fathers. The “mother of the children” (O’Conner, 2011, p. 250) is a “young woman” (O’Conner, 2011, p. 250) and is probably very pretty and attractive because she has had no problems finding men who will impregnate her, but the problem is that they do not stay with her afterwards. This makes it easier for the mother and the children to become a dysfunctional family. Bailey’s last name is unknown, but it does not seem to be Wesley or Star. The baby, which remains nameless in the story, is most likely Baily’s baby, and that is why “the mother of the children” now lives with Baily, unmarried, hence the title given to her is “mother of the children” (O’Conner, 2011, p. 250), instead of the wife. John Wesley and June Star both know that Baily is not their real dad, and therefore know that the grandmother is not really their grandmother. This is why the children do not show the grandmother any respect, and ignore her as often as possible.
We first see an example of the boy John Wesley displaying his dysfunctional attitude in paragraph six when he says “I’d smack his face,” (O’Conner, 2011, p. 250) as a reply to the grandmother asking him what would you do if this fellow, The Misfit, caught you?” (O’Conner, 2011, p. 250). Obviously he is trying to be a tough kid has many little boys do, but there are plenty of other things he could have said to act tough, that would have been a little more intelligent and a little less dysfunctional as “I’d smack his face” when referring to a known murder and fugitive.
Shortly thereafter in paragraph sixteen of the story, John Wesley says “Tennessee is just a hillbilly dumping ground, and Georgia is a lousy state too.” (O’Conner, 2011, p. 251). This sort of disrespectful talk reeks of a dysfunctional attitude. In the very next line June Star replies “You said it” (O’Conner, 2011, p. 251), agreeing with John Wesley’s statement showing June Star to be a disrespectful litter girl with a dysfunctional attitude as well.
Now, the grandmother attempts to point out the error of the children’s behavior and begins to talk about how people in her day were more respectful, but before she could finish she is distracted by a little boy without pants on the side of the road and says “Little niggers in the country don’t have things like we do.” (O’Conner, 2011, p. 251) So basically she blurts out something using disrespectful language regarding black people while trying to teach the children to be respectful. This is dysfunctional.
Now everyone is entailed to their opinion about songs, but why would anyone want to dance to a song about losing their boyfriend, that sounds a little bit dysfunctional. But according to the story “The children’s mother put a dime in the machine and played “The Tennessee Waltz,” and the grandmother said that tune always made her want to dance.” (O’Conner, 2011, p. 251) .
Later, right after the accident, June Star said “But nobody’s killed,” with disappointment as the grandmother limped out of the car.” (O’Conner, 2011, p. 254) To say something like that with disappointment is very mean and dysfunctional.
Finally, even the Misfit, referring to the grandmother, said “She would of been a good woman, if it had been somebody there to shoot her every minute of her life.” (O’Conner, 2011, p. 257) Recognizing that the grandmother only had mean and dysfunctional family members.