Home > Free Essays > Literature > American Literature > O’Connor’ System of Characters in “A Good Man Is Hard to Find”

O’Connor’ System of Characters in “A Good Man Is Hard to Find” Essay

Exclusively available on IvyPanda Available only on IvyPanda
Updated: Jun 20th, 2022

Introduction

From the first lines of the story of American writer Flannery O’Connor, A Good Man is Hard to Find, the large and happy family – at first glance – appears before the readers. They are going on a road that will turn into a tragedy for them. It seems reasonable to state that the mentioned work is among the most popular ones written by O’Connor. Below, the possible ideas of O’Connor within A Good Man are Hard to Find will be analyzed in various contexts through the prism of the system of characters in the story.

Main body

The main and most tenacious character is the grandmother, the mother of the head of the Bailey family. This heroine is shown brightly and not always from the best side. Initially, this is a woman who does not want to leave her home and gives children instructions to love their small homeland and their parents. However, in the course of the play, she lies, manipulates relatives, and commits several actions without thinking about the possible consequences. Children play a significant role in the character system. There are three of them: boy John, girl June, and the baby. Throughout the narration, they are reproached for their lack of love and lack of respect for their elders. The issue arises – it seems that they have no opportunity to take an example to follow; their parents, in turn, do not treat their grandmother in the best way. Her son, named Bailey, does not take her opinion into account and refuses many whims, even not the most difficult ones to fulfill. For example, they could take a cat because it would not cause a great extent of inconvenience. If at the beginning of the story, he at least listens to the mother, then almost the last phrase uttered by the mother’s son before his death becomes a strong word (Ochshorn 114). Bailey turned sharply and scolded the old woman so that even the children were embarrassed. The son’s wife simply ignores the elderly woman. Therefore, the two children are more passionate about the privileges of the modern world, such as comics and Coca-Cola, than the stories about their grandmother’s youth. They behave disrespectfully not only to their elders but also to each other – they fight, exchanging cuffs in front of their grandmother’s nose. No one can be blamed for this, except for the older relatives. This is how the image of a friendly family, going to see the world, is destroyed in a couple of pages.

In such a state, they meet the Misfit and his gang; he appears in a car that resembles a hearse. If for a second, it may seem that the newly arrived heroes will help the family get out of this situation, then this hope instantly evaporates. The grandmother begins to beg the criminal to save the life of the “lady” and asks only for herself, forgetting about the rest of the family. The outcast behaves like a confession, remembering the past. Pouring out his soul, he knows that this will not change anything, and the death of his grandmother is just a matter of time until she is “spiritualized” before the inevitable death. The last shot is fired, and the following phrase sounds: “It’s no real pleasure in life” (O’Connor 13). Indeed, all biblical covenants have been broken, heaven and hell have mixed up, and the symbol of the Tower of Babel rises above the heroes. There can be no question of happiness when evil walks around the world and kills people with impunity while calmly discussing the mission of Jesus. There is no happiness in the life of a family, where love and respect are lacking. Death symbols chasing them on their heels led the story to a logical final.

The above facts allow stating the following; the idea of the story might be that Christianity is powerless against real evil – the Misfit (Walls 44). However, it seems that such an approach is not inherent to O’Connor’s literature. First, the mentioned idea is too straightforward, which is not, again, typical for the author. Second, there is a question of whether the Misfit can be considered an absolute evil or not (Desmond 130). During the dialogue, it may be seen that the Misfit does not know why he was imprisoned and that he was accused of murdering his father, although he stated that his father died a long time ago from a Spanish woman. Nevertheless, he believes that he was convicted fairly because “they had the papers on me” (O’Connor 11). After that, the Misfit decided that he would be punished in any case and began to keep records of all his atrocities and compare them with punishment so that at the Last Judgment, it can be proved that one was mistreated. Thus, the Misfit himself can be a victim of injustice, which is not very suitable for absolute evil. According to another version, the last words of the grandmother were an act of mercy. That is, although she was more of a bad woman (she hid the cat and could not keep silent about the fact that she recognized the Misfit), at the very end, she suddenly stopped worrying about her life and, with her last words, only wanted to save the Misfit’s soul from punishment at the Last Judgment, ignoring the fact that he killed her family. This version makes sense if we take into account what the Misfit himself said during the dialogue, “I don’t want no help, I’m doing all right by myself” (O’Connor 11). Therefore, he killed the old woman but noted that in her last seconds of life, she finally became a good person. The third of the many versions, in a sense, continues the previous one. According to it, the last act of the grandmother is a moment of her grace – her chance for redemption after all the bad things she did, considering herself good. The Misfit, in this interpretation, acts as a kind of weapon of God and, without realizing it, does his will, killing the old woman immediately after she is spiritually reborn.

Conclusion

To conclude, the above discussion was dedicated to the possible ideas in A Good Man is Hard to Find that O’Connor aspired to deliver through the story and characters. It was found that the family contains a plethora of problems in the relationships, which – to an exact extent – caused such a morbid ending. It was also argued that the two primary ideas that are likely to be integrated into the novel are the issues of mercy and redemption embodied in the character of the grandmother. Overall, O’Connor created a significant piece of writing that may be explored and analyzed from different perspectives.

Works Cited

Desmond, John. “Flannery O’Connor’s Misfit and the Mystery of Evil.” Renascence: Essays on Values in Literature, vol. 56, no. 2, 2004, pp. 129–137.

O’Connor, Flannery. A Good Man is Hard to Find. The Avon Book of Modern Writing, 1953. Repositório Institucional da UFSC, Web.

Ochshorn, Kathleen. “A Cloak of Grace: Contradictions in “A Good Man is Hard to Find”.” Studies in American Fiction, vol. 18, no. 1, 1990, pp. 113–117.

Walls, Doyle. “O’Connor’s a Good Man is Hard to Find.” The Explicator, vol. 46, no. 2., 1988, pp. 43–45.

This essay on O’Connor’ System of Characters in “A Good Man Is Hard to Find” was written and submitted by your fellow student. You are free to use it for research and reference purposes in order to write your own paper; however, you must cite it accordingly.
Removal Request
If you are the copyright owner of this paper and no longer wish to have your work published on IvyPanda.
Request the removal

Need a custom Essay sample written from scratch by
professional specifically for you?

801 certified writers online

Cite This paper
Select a referencing style:

Reference

IvyPanda. (2022, June 20). O’Connor’ System of Characters in “A Good Man Is Hard to Find”. https://ivypanda.com/essays/oconnor-system-of-characters-in-a-good-man-is-hard-to-find/

Reference

IvyPanda. (2022, June 20). O’Connor’ System of Characters in “A Good Man Is Hard to Find”. Retrieved from https://ivypanda.com/essays/oconnor-system-of-characters-in-a-good-man-is-hard-to-find/

Work Cited

"O’Connor’ System of Characters in “A Good Man Is Hard to Find”." IvyPanda, 20 June 2022, ivypanda.com/essays/oconnor-system-of-characters-in-a-good-man-is-hard-to-find/.

1. IvyPanda. "O’Connor’ System of Characters in “A Good Man Is Hard to Find”." June 20, 2022. https://ivypanda.com/essays/oconnor-system-of-characters-in-a-good-man-is-hard-to-find/.


Bibliography


IvyPanda. "O’Connor’ System of Characters in “A Good Man Is Hard to Find”." June 20, 2022. https://ivypanda.com/essays/oconnor-system-of-characters-in-a-good-man-is-hard-to-find/.

References

IvyPanda. 2022. "O’Connor’ System of Characters in “A Good Man Is Hard to Find”." June 20, 2022. https://ivypanda.com/essays/oconnor-system-of-characters-in-a-good-man-is-hard-to-find/.

References

IvyPanda. (2022) 'O’Connor’ System of Characters in “A Good Man Is Hard to Find”'. 20 June.

Powered by CiteTotal, referencing maker
More related papers