Argumentative Essay of “A Good Man is Hard to Find”
Flannery O’Connor is one of the foremost writers in American fiction. She excelled in a number of short stories she had published in her lifetime; one of the most popular stories she ever wrote for which she is famous for is “A Good Man is Hard to Find” published in 1955. Oddly enough, it was able to mix caustic comedy, religious fervor and unmitigated violence. In this story, which is the topic of this short essay, the grandmothers character, who is one of the main actors in the story, is explored and analyzed in a new perspective or light. This paper posits the idea that the grandmother herself is also a misfit in several ways. The pursuit of this new angle portrays the grandmother in a different light from the usual literary analyses in which a majority of them viewed her as a pitiable victim of circumstances beyond her control.
Most people would view older persons with love, respect and awe, especially for their age, experience and accumulated wisdom. This is the case with our grandparents whom we love dearly for all the blessings, advice, love and compassion they had given. However, in the short story being discussed here, the grandmother is portrayed as someone who is not in many ways very close to her own family members (her son, daughter-in-law and the grandchildren). In this regard, she is often shown to be at odds with the other family members and ignored. A closer examination or reading of this short story may provoke questions in the reader on why a person like her is not endeared to her own family. This might be due to something else that a reader can try to guess about her own character which is at variance with the other people.
From all indications, even at the very start of the story, grandmother is already at odds with all the other family members. She was the only one who did not want to go to Florida. In most cases, grandmothers are considered as loving but in this story, she is a bit cantankerous and also very vain by dressing quite elaborately for the trip: “Her collars and cuffs were white organdy trimmed with lace and at her neckline she had pinned a purple spray of cloth violets containing a sachet. In case of an accident, anyone seeing her dead on the highway would know at once that she was a lady” (O’Connor 32). Her character did not blend or mesh well in a good way with the other members, such that her eight-year-old grandson, John Wesley, would be glad if she did not join their family trip. “If you don’t want to go to Florida, why dontcha stay at home?” (ibid. 31). The granddaughter, June Star, was herself of the same opinion as well, by saying “”She wouldn’t stay at home to be queen for a day,” quite sarcastically (ibid.). All these verbal exchanges showed the grandmother was the odd person out in the group for she is viewed by them as stubborn or hard-headed, by insisting on not going to Florida, by saying there was an escapee going in the same way, and by preferring east Tennessee instead. In this regard, she was a misfit herself because her preference differed from all the others. She was a garrulous, pretentious, insensitive, self-serving and manipulative old lady as the main protagonist.
In retrospect, it was the grandmother who was the main character in this story although she could be considered as a misfit just like the ex-convict who eventually killed them all. She was the one who provided the basis or foundation for the theme of the story, from the beginning to the end. She quarreled with her own family members before even leaving home, and it was also she who – in hindsight – caused the entire family’s demise at the hands of “The Misfit” by insisting on visiting that old mansion located near Toombsboro when their car took a U-turn for the dirt road going to the plantation and met the accident. She was a misfit because she had to lie so others would agree to go along with her idea by claiming secret panels and hidden silver.
O’Connor, Flannery. A Good Man is Hard to Find. Piscataway, NJ, USA: The Rutgers University Press, 1993. Print.