A Good Man is Hard to Find is one of the most well-known works of Flannery O’Connor. It is a story that passively draws upon the magical power of violence to momentarily make even the hardest of people accept their moment of grace. The story is focused at the grandmother who, with her character and personality, does complete justice to her role of being the focus of the story.
The grandmother’s character transformation suggests the story’s point of view; while violence is understandably and universally deplored, it has a strange capability of bringing about a radical change in people, for the better, helping them return to reality, getting them closer to religion, and getting them ready to endorse their moment of grace. The story is primarily focused at the grandmother. The grandmother happens to be the focus of the story also because it is only because of her that the other characters in the story reach their destination of death. Had the grandmother not been with the family, they might have made a safe and happy trip to Florida and have reached home safe and sound. The grandmother has an annoying character, which reflects in the frustration of Bailey here, “This place had better turn up in a minute…or I’m going to turn around” (O’Connor 40). The grandmother in the story is a hard-headed character that remains selfish, mean, and annoying throughout the story, but when violence strikes her in person, she accepts her time of grace, saying, “Why you’re one of my babies. You’re one of my own children!” (O’Connor 51).
O’Connor has made the right use of words in the story. As the title of the story suggests, the storyline has something important to do with goodness of character. Apparently, the title suggests that there are very few good men or people in the world. However, a thorough analysis of the story leads a reader to the conclusion that one cannot find goodness in oneself unless one is exposed to circumstances as violent and critical as the main character of the story; the grandmother. In other words, the title means that achieving goodness is not easy. O’Connor creates this impression of momentary change of the grandmother’s character over the readers by making The Misfit say, “She would have been a good woman… if it had been somebody there to shoot her every minute of her life” (O’Connor 51). His quote reflects the enlightenment of The Misfit to the experience of the grandmother before her death. He notices her attempt to preach him the gospel as a result of being threatened by death. However, it is important to note that O’Connor wants to create the impression that such a change of character caused by violence is temporal and not long-lasting or ever-lasting. This is the reason why The Misfit considers it important for the grandmother to be shot every minute in order to keep being a good woman.
A very important symbol is the grandmother’s hat. She wears it with the intention of being recognized as a lady after her death (O’Connor 76). This, indeed shows her meanness that all she is worried about is being recognized as a lady when there could be so many other things to be concerned about including the death of her children. The Misfit’s glasses are another symbol in the story (O’Connor 51). After shooting the grandmother dead, “he put his gun down on the ground and took off his glasses and began to clean them” (O’Connor 51). O’Connor makes The Misfit wear the glasses so that he is able to penetrate his vision to her heart and form the true perspective about the grandmother. The grandmother is very appealing as a focal point of attention in the story. This is one of the most interesting and dramatic characters found in the literature. Many people of the like of the grandmother exist in the real world as well, which makes the readers identify with or recognize the grandmother to some extent.
Violence strikes people physically, and equally importantly on the emotional and psychological levels. This instills the power in violence to bring a radical change in the victims, at least for the time they are caught in violence. Even the grandmother is suspected to turn back to her real self once she is back to the normal circumstances, which is why The Misfit suggests shooting her every minute of her life to make retain the goodness of character. The story fundamentally revolves around the grandmother. Her thoughts, actions, and strategies all make the grandmother a very interesting person that is totally worthy of being the focal point of attention in the story.
O’Connor, Flannery. A Good Man is Hard to Find. Rutgers University Press, 1993. Print.