Welcome to a study guide on A Good Man Is Hard to Find by Flannery O’Connor. The guide prepared by our editorial team includes all the information on the short story necessary for a student. Here you will find a short summary, an analysis of the characters, the setting and themes, the most notable quotes, and the author’s biography.
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💁 All You Need to Know about A Good Man Is Hard to Find
A Good Man Is Hard to Find, facetious and grotesque, depicts a family going on a road trip. The author recounts a chain of tragic coincidences that makes the characters encounter a renowned criminal. He butchers them mercilessly while philosophizing about religion.
Flannery O’Connor wrote the short story in 1953. The author, a devout Catholic, worked in the Southern Gothic genre. She explored the grotesque and filled her works with Christian symbolism. O’Connor was disabled, dying from lupus at 39.
The plot of A Good Man Is Hard to Find is a classic example of Flannery O’Connor’s style of writing. In her story, the author, a connoisseur of the Southern Gothic genre, describes comically regular characters who are not bad but not good either. They are caricatured, and their feeble, unremarkable personalities are crushed by evil. The grotesque, tragic ending of the story clashes with the overall light-hearted, mundane description of the family road trip, invoking a surreal feeling.
🗺️ A Good Man Is Hard to Find: Navigation
A short story’s summary with pictures that contains the key events of A Good Man Is Hard to Find.
A detailed summary and analysis of the short story. Active characters and themes.
The Grandmother, the Misfit, and minor characters of the short story described on one page.
The key themes in A Good Man Is Hard to Find: grace & evil, religion, family, moral decay, society & class.
All the essential quotations from A Good Man Is Hard to Find explained on one page.
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A number of wonderful ideas for your essay on A Good Man Is Hard to Find: 100% free research paper and essay examples.
An extensive list of essay topics on the short story: literary analysis, characters, themes, & more.
A large collection of answers to the most pressing questions connected to the short story.
A comprehensive biography of Mary Flannery O’Connor, the author of A Good Man Is Hard to Find.
🔑A Good Man Is Hard to Find: Facts
|Type of work:||Short story|
|First publication date:||1953|
|Where does A Good Man Is Hard to Find take place?||Georgia|
|When does A Good Man Is Hard to Find take place?||The 1950s|
|Main themes:||Grace and evil, family, religion, moral decay, society and class|
👀 A Good Man Is Hard to Find: Plot Overview
The plot of A Good Man Is Hard to Find is of a linear structure. It features a single timeline from the start and to the ending. A short plot summary goes as follows.
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A family of six – the Grandmother, her son, his wife, and their three kids, one still a baby – goes on a road trip. Unbeknownst to others, a cat is smuggled in a basket by the worried Grandmother. She is also dressed up to appear ladylike in case of her death in a car accident.
During the car ride, the Grandmother is talkative and cheerful, engaging the grandchildren with jokes and stories. When they make disrespectful comments, the Grandmother reminisces about the times when people “did right.”
The family stops by a diner called “The Tower.” There, the Grandmother discusses The Misfit with the owner and concludes that “a good man is hard to find” these days.
Back on the road, the Grandmother becomes obsessed with the idea of visiting a grand mansion. She remembers the one from her youth. She incites the grandchildren to harass their parents. Finally, they agree to go on a quick side trip to see it. The dirt road is tough and hilly, which partly contributes to the accident to follow. The Grandmother realizes that the mansion she has been thinking of is in a different location. She inadvertently twitches and disturbs the basket with the cat. Scared, it jumps on the driver, the Grandmother’s son Bailey, and the car overturns.
The family is far below the road level, trapped in the wild, with no one to come for help. Suddenly they see a large black car with three men inside. The car stops, and the men come to the Baileys, holding guns in their hands. The Grandmother recognizes the Misfit in one of them and says his name out loud. From that moment on, the family is doomed to die.
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The Grandmother tries to persuade the Misfit to let her go. She calls him a nice person, coming from a decent family, unable to kill a lady. Meanwhile, the two other gangsters take the other members of the family to the forest. From there, gunshots are heard. Finally, the Grandmother is left alone with the Misfit. She touches his shoulder, calling him one of her children. The Misfit shoots her several times through the chest. When the other two gangsters return, he says the Grandmother would have been a good person if there was someone to shoot her every minute of her life.
📚 A Good Man Is Hard to Find: Historical Context
A Good Man Is Hard to Find by Flannery O’Connor was first published in 1953 in a book under the same name. The short story has become one of the most famous works by the author. It is also one of the most well-known examples of Southern Gothic literature. O’Connor, in her turn, has become a recognized master of the genre, though she preferred to label her fiction as Christian Realism. Being a subgenre of Gothic literature, Southern Gothic is full of suspense that often foreshadows violence. The unique feature of the genre is a strong sense of the place. The authors describe the settings of the American south with their special cultural features. The latter include racial inequality, the predominance of religious views, and nostalgia for the “Old South.” Southern Gothic usually focuses on grotesque events, absurd plot twists, and eccentric characters.
At the time when O’Connor wrote her story, slavery has long been abolished. However, the society in America, especially in its southern regions, was split along both class and racial lines. These splits are reflected in the Grandmother’s biased attitudes toward black people. Such attitudes were typical at the time. Moreover, the Grandmother is not only prejudiced, she is also hypocritical and selfish. Throughout the plot, she shows her worst qualities and demonstrates that she only cares about herself. However, the climax of the story is when she calls the Misfit one of her children before he kills her. This act of Christian forgiveness is woven into the story’s context of the religious beliefs of the American South. As mentioned earlier, these views were shared by O’Connor.