“A Good Man is Hard to Find” Flannery O’Connor
"A Good Man is Hard to Find" by Flannery O'Connor 1. Why does the grandmother dress up for the trip? 2. Why does the grandmother say she doesn't want to go to Florida? 3. How does Red Sam feel about people and everything else these days? 4. Who approaches the family after the accident? 5. What are the three men holding? 6. What does the grandmother continue to tell The Misfit to do? 7. What eventually shocks the grandmother out of her selfishness and judgmental views? 8. What happens to the family at the end of the story?
Plot Overview • The family decides to take a trip to Florida. The grandmother wishes to go to Tennessee. • The family stops to eat lunch at The Tower. As Red Sammy and the grandmother talk about the state of the world, Red Sammy states, “A good man is hard to find.” • The grandmother convinces her family to turn down a dirt road to visit an old plantation. • The car wrecks after the cat jumps out of her basket. • Three men approach the wrecked car. The grandmother recognizes one of the men as The Misfit. • As the grandmother pleads with The Misfit to pray with her, the other two men take the family off to the woods and shoot them. • The grandmother calls The Misfit one of her own children and he shoots her three times in the chest.
Characters • The grandmother - a judgmental old woman • The Misfit – an escaped serial killer • Bailey – the grandmother’s son • John Wesley – a loud and obnoxious 8 year old boy (John Wesley is also an important religious figure and is credited with founding the Methodist church) • June Star – a rude and obnoxious little girl • The Mother • Red Sammy Butts – the owner of “The Tower”
Major Character Analysis – The Grandmother • Considers herself morally superior to others • Never criticizes herself – she only judges others • When faced with death, finally realizes she is flawed • When she calls The Misfit one of her own children, she is finally able to experience compassion and understanding
Major Character Analysis – The Misfit • Is self aware (accepts himself for who he is) • Demonstrates a deep conviction to his life that the other characters do not (he is committed to his “meanness”) • Is considered a strong character because he is consistent in his beliefs • O’Connor calls The Misfit “a prophet gone wrong”
Important Themes and Symbols • What is a “good man”? What does the grandmother think is a good man? What does The Misfit think is a good man? • Christian grace The grandmother receives grace before she dies. The Misfit changes his belief from “no pleasure but meanness” to “there’s no real pleasure in life”. Killing has ceased to bring him happiness. • The grandmother’s hat Beginning – keeping up appearances End – the hat falls apart, much like the grandmother’s moral beliefs • Moral codes
“She would have been a good woman,” The Misfit said, “if it had been somebody there to shoot her every minute of her life.” • Shows that The Misfit understands that the grandmother is flawed • When facing death, the grandmother has the ability to be a good woman. • If the grandmother could live her life at gunpoint, then she would be a compassionate woman.
Essay • Thesis Statement: • In Flannery O’Connor’s short story “A Good Man Is Hard to Find,” O’Connor shows what a good man is through the characterization of Bailey, grandmother, and The Misfit.
Essay • Brainstorm: • Bailey • Grandmother’s son • Doesn’t listen to mother about The Misfit • Stubborn (doesn’t want to take her to Tennessee) • Makes hasty decisions because of whining and griping • Grandmother • She makes odd decisions (brings the cat, dresses nice for a car accident) • She believes she can out talk The Misfit and convince him not to kill her. • Also, she doesn’t plead for anyone else’s life (selfish). • She could’ve been good if she had a gun to her at all times (Misfit quote).
Essay • The Misfit • He has strong convictions (beliefs) about the nature of good and evil (his parents were good, but recognized that he would not be). • His ideas about religion and the dubious nature of Jesus being the savior create a moral conundrum. • He kills the family and shows that he acts as he believes. He’s not a hypocrite. • He’s a leader and people fear him, yet the grandmother insists falsely that he is a good man.
Essay: Introduction • Flannery O’Connor themes. • Regarding her emphasis of the grotesque, O'Connor said: "anything that comes out of the South is going to be called grotesque by the northern reader, unless it is grotesque, in which case it is going to be called realistic." • O'Connor, Flannery. Mystery and Manners: Occasional Prose. Eds. Robert and Sally Fitzgerald. New York: Farrar, 1969: p. 40. • Her texts usually take place in the South and revolve around morally flawed characters, while the issue of race often appears in the background.
Introduction • One of her trademarks is foreshadowing, giving a reader an idea of what will happen far before it happens. Most of her works feature disturbing elements, though she did not like to be characterized as cynical. "I am tired of reading reviews that call A Good Man brutal and sarcastic," she writes. "The stories are hard but they are hard because there is nothing harder or less sentimental than Christian realism... when I see these stories described as horror stories I am always amused because the reviewer always has hold of the wrong horror." • O'Connor, Flannery. The Habit of Being. Ed. Sally Fitzgerald. New York: Farrar, 1979: p. 90.
Summary • Restate thesis. • Mention how each character’s actions either changed or stayed static by the end. • Mention how well or poorly O’Connor’s characterization shows what a good man is.
Starter Sentence • When Flannery O’Connor had an opinion, she didn’t spend hours trying to convince people that her conclusions were right. Instead, she wrote about it.
Body Paragraph Format • Topic Sentence • Three sentences that give examples or back up • A transition sentence that leads to the next topic • Example: Bailey, the grandmother’s son, showed O’Connor’s idea of a good man. Sometimes the best example is the opposite and Bailey was certainly the antithesis of O’Connor’s good man concept. He doesn’t listen to his mother about The Misfit and his stubborn nature keeps him from taking her to Tennessee. Also, he makes hasty decisions based on whining and griping like trying to find the mansion with the secret door. Even though he served as O’Connor’s opposite ideal, she used other characters to prove her point.