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Symbolism in O’Connor’s “A Good Man Is Hard to Find” Essay

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Updated: Aug 14th, 2022

A Good Man is Hard to Find is one of the most prominent works written by Flannery O’Connor. The author is famous for her usage of grotesque and morally flawed characters in the stories, and the reviewed work is not an exception. The current essay discusses the implementation of symbolism in A Good Man is Hard to Find and its effects on the narrative.

The first mark of symbolism that is encountered multiple times throughout the story is death. The author presents several warnings to imply the unavoidable demise of the family. For instance, the notion of the graveyard is an apparent symbol of the upcoming death: ‘”Look at the graveyard!” the grandmother said, pointing it out. “That was the old family burying ground.’ (O’Connor 139). Other symbolic patterns, such as the name of the restaurant and Red Sammy’s warnings, also presage the demise of the characters.

Another usage of symbolism concerns the outfit of the Grandmother. For instance, her hat demonstrates her aspiration to be perceived as a lady in the public. However, despite their appearance, the morals of the Grandmother are frequently questionable, and, ultimately, her decisions have brought death onto the family.

More about A Good Man is Hard to Find

O’Connor also vastly uses the technique of foreshadowing in the narrative. The main two characters of A Good Man is Hard to Find are the Grandmother and the Misfit, and while they encounter each other at the end of the story, one might guess the denouement at the beginning. In the very first paragraph, the Grandmother states, “I wouldn’t take my children in any direction with a criminal like that aloose in it. I couldn’t answer to my conscience if I did.” (O’Connor 137). Ultimately, this is exactly what happened to demonstrate the technique of foreshadowing.

Summing up, A Good Man is Hard to Find is an excellent example of a short story that implements both symbolism and foreshadowing to convey ideas in the narrative. The whole setting is dark and grotesque and is supported by menacing symbols, such as death and flawed morals.

Work Cited

O’Connor, Flannery. A Good Man is Hard to Find. 1953, Web.

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"Symbolism in O’Connor’s “A Good Man Is Hard to Find”." IvyPanda, 14 Aug. 2022, ivypanda.com/essays/symbolism-in-oconnors-a-good-man-is-hard-to-find/.

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IvyPanda. "Symbolism in O’Connor’s “A Good Man Is Hard to Find”." August 14, 2022. https://ivypanda.com/essays/symbolism-in-oconnors-a-good-man-is-hard-to-find/.

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IvyPanda. 2022. "Symbolism in O’Connor’s “A Good Man Is Hard to Find”." August 14, 2022. https://ivypanda.com/essays/symbolism-in-oconnors-a-good-man-is-hard-to-find/.

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IvyPanda. (2022) 'Symbolism in O’Connor’s “A Good Man Is Hard to Find”'. 14 August.

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