Racism is a minor topic in A Good Man Is Hard to Find. The short story is filled with words like “nigger” and full of creepy white characters. The author is often accused of racism, which is wrong. It is hard to find a writer presenting racism more naturally than Flannery O’Connor.
One of the brightest examples of racism in the story is the grandmother’s worldview. She discloses it when commenting on the black child, calling him a “cute pickaninny.” On the one hand, she feels or feigns compassion for that child, whose parents cannot give him what white parents can. On the other hand, she uses the word “nigger,” which demonstrates that her feelings toward black people are racist.
The grandmother believes that being “good” equals being “white,” from a reputable family, and a higher class. Those who do not meet her criteria are less worthy and respectable. Therefore, racism is inherent in her blood. It shows itself in the old-fashioned views on social class and compassion to black people with a racist tone.
Racism is an inescapable theme, and Flannery O’Connor does even try to conceal it. It shows in many details. The ordinary jokes, words like “nigger,” and the long-established ways of life are the reality of her life. She was one of the American writers who grew up in Georgia or Alabama. For them, segregation and intolerance were commonplace.
Other authors depicted racism as a terrible vice that must be eliminated. But O’Connor presented it from the point of view of the white characters. For example, the grandmother cannot get rid of it even under pain of death. The author presented it in the form of compassion. The readers empathize with the racist characters. That is why Flannery O’Connor, who lived only 39 years, became one of the greatest writers of the American South.
Since the author has lived in the South all her life, slavery and racism were habitual phenomena for her. She wrote about stereotypes as the routine, which is difficult to overcome for many white Americans. They would prefer to die than to shake hands with people of a different race. Thus, racial prejudices cannot be abandoned by a simple decree or prohibition. This pain lives inside people and will live for a long time.
O’Connor’s characters use derogatory nicknames when they refer to black people. It was a common practice among white people in the South. She may be accused of racism, but she cannot throw them out of history. A Good Man Is Hard to Find fits into the context of the prevailing racism in the US South. The author only represents the racist attitudes of some white characters. But she also shows that the old-fashioned mindset of the South has to change in favor of racial tolerance.