A good man is hard to find theme analysis essay
On a road trip to Florida a family from Atlanta encounter a homicidal escaped convict whom the media dubs The Misfit. The Misfit and his henchmen execute the entire family and steal their clothes, car and cat. Behavior wise the grandmother is a selfish woman who deliberately manipulates her family to suit her own purposes unapologetically and with impunity. Pitty Sing later brings about the deaths of the whole family following the car accident and ensuing encounter with The Misfit. Upon waking up from a nap in the car, the grandmother claims to remember a plantation house from her youth. She has no idea where they are.
A Good Man Is Hard to Find (short story)
From this angle, the story parallels the experience of addiction and my personal process of entering recovery. I grew up in a rural mill town, a place defunct since the s, in a family and community haunted by generational trauma, mental illness, alcoholism, and violence.
I emerged from this environment with a specific worldview—one in which it felt normal to suffer, to fend for oneself, to mistrust people in institutions, to fear difference. In the pain, loneliness, and desperation that results from such a worldview, my addiction began, starting with a forty-ounce bottle of Private Stock malt liquor behind a vacant mill building with a group of kids no different from me.
This longing, which drives the action of the story, is rooted in a desire to return to a world that makes sense to her, one in which she is relevant, in which she comfortably fits. The world she inhabits in the story—Georgia in the early s—fails to offer this comfort. The grandmother finds comfort in constantly looking for and clinging to signifiers that reflect the world she desires, one in which goodness exists and can be defined along lines that allow her to fit into it. In this way, the pain from which the grandmother seeks relief does not stem from the world, but from her perception of it.
My flawed perception, too, led to the need for the relief. While the grandmother looks outward to find security in a world she perceives as threatening, I turned to substances. In that first bottle of malt liquor I found a momentary reprieve from a reality I found terrifying and hopeless, and I chased this escape.
I found myself seated, one afternoon, at a kitchen table, watching a woman suck the green coating off an milligram OxyContin. She rubbed the melted time-release seal on the hem of her shirt, and as she crushed the pill beneath a dollar bill with a Bic lighter, all I was thinking was how I wanted to feel at ease.
The depth of suffering I would experience in the place where I was headed rested outside of my purview. The promise of relief eclipsed all else. The grandmother shows a similar lack of reasoning in her attempts to gain a sense of security. As the family drives toward Florida, she remembers a nearby plantation that she visited in her youth.
Visiting would provide an opportunity for her to reconnect with the world she longs for, and so, through careful conniving, she encourages the family to take a detour. Several miles out, however, she realizes she has made a mistake.
The plantation she remembered visiting is actually in east Tennessee. Her memory has been hijacked by her desires, and her error is so embarrassing she physically shudders, which sets in motion a chain of events that causes her son to wreck the car, leaving the family stranded.
The more important element of the experience of suffering is that it provides the conditions necessary for the experience of grace, followed by the possibility for redemption. For the grandmother, her opportunity for grace and redemption comes through her encounter with the Misfit, a convicted murderer who has escaped the state penitentiary.
For me, it arrived with my introduction to heroin, which swiftly brought me to my knees. Shortly after the car wreck, the Misfit arrives with his goons in a hearse-like automobile, and engages the grandmother in a dialog that dismantles her mistaken worldview.
The grandmother attempts to earn his mercy with a line of reasoning that stems from her flawed perspective. As the grandmother pleads for the Misfit to let her go, he makes clear her reliance on outward signifiers to define her own goodness and the goodness of others, illuminating the flaws in her perspective in the process, and leaving her with no choice but to turn to God for redemption.
Like the grandmother, who continues to turn toward what she knows, no longer for comfort, but for survival, I continued to return to drugs. What had once provided some sense of ease and comfort began to destroy my ability to function in my everyday life, to show up for work, to be a son and brother, to take care of myself in basic ways.
My sense of self-reliance was whittled away, and as death approached, it became difficult to believe that drugs were allowing me to live. The grandmother experiences her own dismantling as her family is executed. Her attempts to reason with the Misfit prove futile, and she is forced to confront the failure of her worldview as a means for salvation.
Stripped of the perspectives she has clung to, she turns inward for redemption, and, in this moment, sees clearly for the first time. Here lies her moment of grace. For the first time, the reader sees that, despite her flaws, she possesses goodness. In my moment of grace, I saw clearly that heroin could not save me, nor could I save myself by operating within the framework of perception that had brought me to where I stood. From this place, I, like the grandmother, reached out from the depths of my vulnerability.
I, like the grandmother, had suffered, and I had been redeemed. Stillwell Powers was born and raised in Western Massachusetts. A graduate of Greenfield Community College, he went on to earn his B.
He lives with his wife and their two black cats in Eugene, Oregon. Related Posts. About Author J. Stillwell Powers J.
Good man is hard to find essay - lifeqhomes.com
The old woman insists on not going to Florida as she was anticipating that something bad would happen. She insisted to her son Bailey that she would rather go for a trip to Tennessee but he ignored. She therefore woke up very early and dressed in her best clothes saying that if she was to die that day then she would be recognized as a lady. On their way they had an accident as the grandmother pretends that she had been hurt to gain sympathy from the family members. The grandmother had earlier heard of a killer by the name of Misfit who was in a mission of killing people around Florida and so her dressing symbolized that she was ready for the coffin.
A Good Man Is Hard to Find
Find out more. She first applies it to Red Sammy after he angrily complains of the general untrustworthiness of people. Her assumption, of course, proves to be false. In other words, God has the power to allow even bad people to go to heaven, which he does by granting them grace. The grandmother is an unlikely candidate for receiving grace. She lies to her grandchildren, manipulates her son, and harps constantly about the inadequacy of the present and superiority of the past. She has no self-awareness and seems oblivious to the world around her. Certain of her own moral superiority, the grandmother believes that she is the right person to judge the goodness of others as well as the right person to instruct other people on how to live their lives. However, she herself has an inherent moral weakness. She instructs the Misfit to pray, for example, even though she herself is unable to formulate a coherent prayer.
A Good Man is Hard to Find Theme Essay
As a result, issues including racism, classism, and religion were topics often discussed within her writing. Throughout the short story, the children, June Star and John Wesley show their underserving nature through their disrespectful remarks to their parents, grandmother, strangers, and the Misfit in the final scene. When the Misfit and his criminal allies stop to help the family after the crash, both children are unaware of the sinister intentions of the men and view them only as good Samaritans. Rather than exhibiting gracious attitudes, the children make nasty comments.
Much of the discussion between the Grandmother and the Misfit concerns ideas of punishment and forgiveness. Bailey Boy! These moments of familial love, arriving only when the Grandmother faces death, appear in stark contrast to the rest of the story, which is filled with family members…. There was a time, the Grandmother believes, when it was not so difficult to find good men, though we might wonder if that was ever actually true.
A Good Man is Hard to Find Themes
Hadleigh Garza Ms. Vernon English Soon after the trip begins, the grandmother states that she wants to go Georgia to see a friend, but with her awful memory, she remembers it is actually in Tennessee. Do you agree or disagree with this persons judgement of their own character?SEE VIDEO BY TOPIC: A Good Man Is Hard to Find, by Flannery O'Connor (Analysis & Interpretation)
From this angle, the story parallels the experience of addiction and my personal process of entering recovery. I grew up in a rural mill town, a place defunct since the s, in a family and community haunted by generational trauma, mental illness, alcoholism, and violence. I emerged from this environment with a specific worldview—one in which it felt normal to suffer, to fend for oneself, to mistrust people in institutions, to fear difference. In the pain, loneliness, and desperation that results from such a worldview, my addiction began, starting with a forty-ounce bottle of Private Stock malt liquor behind a vacant mill building with a group of kids no different from me. This longing, which drives the action of the story, is rooted in a desire to return to a world that makes sense to her, one in which she is relevant, in which she comfortably fits. The world she inhabits in the story—Georgia in the early s—fails to offer this comfort.
A Good Man Is Hard to Find
The story appears in the collection of short stories of the same name. The interpretive work of scholars often focuses on the controversial final scene. A man named Bailey intends to take his family from Georgia to Florida for a summer vacation, but his mother, referred to as "the grandmother" in the story wants him to drive to East Tennessee , where the grandmother has friends "connections". She argues that his children, John Wesley and June Star, have never been to East Tennessee, and she shows him a news article in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution about an escaped murderer who calls himself "The Misfit" and was last seen in Florida. The next day, the grandmother wakes up early to hide her cat, Pitty Sing, in a basket on the floor in the back of the car. She is worried that the cat will die while they are gone. Bailey finds his mother sitting in the car, dressed in her best clothes and an ostentatious hat; if she should die in an accident along the road, she wants people to see her corpse and know she was refined and "a lady. She recalls her youth in the Old South, reminiscing about her courtships and how much better everything was in her time, when children were respectful and people "did right then.
First published in , following her permanent move to Andalusia, her mother's dairy farm, "A Good Man Is Hard to Find" illustrates many of the techniques and themes which were to characterize the typical O'Connor story. Since she was limited by her illness to short and infrequent trips away from the farm, O'Connor learned to draw upon the resources at hand for the subject matter of her stories. These resources included the people around her, her reading material, which consisted of various books and periodicals which came to Andalusia, and an assortment of local and regional newspapers.