A Good Man Is Hard to Find is an example of the Southern Gothic style. It features ironic elements and grotesque scenery. As a result, it demonstrates the degradation of the American South.
Southern Gothic is a genre in literature that uses grotesque scenery and irony. The goal of the style is to criticize the realities of the American South. A Good Man Is Hard to Find is one of the most well-known examples of this style in fiction. It depicts the decay and ignorance of the South. Still, Flannery O’Connor often rejected the label of Southern Gothic. This term was related to William Faulkner’s work. The reason for O’Connor’s rejection was her devotion to her faith. She thought of her work as a light during the darkest of times. She believed that her pieces inspired hope. The writer disagreed that her work was all about feelings of horror and disgust. Thus, the writer insisted that A Good Man Is Hard to Find is an example of Catholic Realism.
The writing in the short story is reflective. The narrative is centered around strange events. They first appear to be expected but soon become sinister. The readers get introduced to an eccentric family who decides to go on a trip. After a while, through foreshadowing and dramatic irony, it becomes evident it is not that simple. The characters are on a peculiar and dangerous journey. Moreover, A Good Man Is Hard to Find features a cast of charismatic personalities. They have their quirks and make the event realistic.
Another Southern Gothic aspect is the negative stereotypes of the American South. The history of this part of the United States is full of racism, nationalism, and isolation. O’Connor uses her characters to channel these elements of the South. The damaged inner world of the main cast is perfect for this. For example, the grandmother represents something sinister. She is an archetype of an old-fashioned southern woman. The grandmother shows the typical behavior of aging southern folk. In particular, she makes racist remarks. Regrettably, she is not the only character dedicated to the region’s stereotypes.
A Good Man Is Hard to Find uses a dark and suspenseful atmosphere to drive the plot. There is always a looming sense of danger, which is the main trait of the Southern Gothic style. The scenery – forests, ditches, and empty dirt roads – is another example of the genre. In the story, the peril is reflected in The Misfit’s character. He is a ruthless serial killer. But readers can sense The Misfit’s morality transforming at the end of the story.
O’Connor established herself as a master of the genre. However, she loathed that her work was labeled as Southern Gothic. Despite the grotesque motives, she kept the characters relatable and realistic. O’Connor could focus on the complexities of relations inside the narrative. Her stories were a perfect balance between a ghostly atmosphere and true human emotions. Southern Gothic works often fail to be believable because of too much focus on the eerie backdrop.