“A Good Man is Hard to Find” by Mary Flannery O’Connor

Published: 2021-07-06 23:19:28
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Category: English

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Summary“A Good Man is Hard to Find” written by Mary Flannery O’Connor presents the different definitions and perceptions about a ‘good’ person through the two main characters, grandmother and The Misfit. The Misfit is a criminal to whom the grandmother calls ‘good man’ for the safety of her own life. Before that, she also called another character ‘good man’ because he helped someone. Calling both the criminal and a helping person ‘good’ represented how people use manipulative words and sentences for their benefits. Grandmother’s family sets on a vacation to Florida, and on the way, she remembers her past and makes her son change the direction so that she could see the old house. The family gets stuck in the woods where the criminal The Misfit murders the whole family.ApplicationHuman behavior concerning the moral codes is discussed by the author in the story. Morality refers to the ways or the guidelines which people have to abide by. It’s up to the individual what he or she believes is right or wrong. For instance, in the story, there are different definitions in the mind of the grandmother of being a good person. At one point, when Red Sammy told the grandmother that he helped the customers who did not deserve his help, the grandmother said, “Because you’re a good man!” (O’Conner, 1962, pp.4). On the other hand, when The Misfit and his gang were about to murder the grandmother and her family, she said, “I just know you’re a good man,” she said desperately. “You’re not a bit common!” (O’Conner, 1962, pp.8). Thus the main theme or the idea of the story is the contrasting beliefs of people according to the situation they’re put in.AnalysisThe whole story revolves around the theme of goodness and evil, irony, contrasting beliefs and morality, and the family values. “People are certainly not nice like they used to be,” said the grandmother (O’Connor, 1962, pp.3). Here, the grandmother admits that the goodness and morality of people have become very rare now. She believes that morality is all about good, decent manners, and praying. “Do you ever pray?” she asked. “If you would pray,” the old lady said, “Jesus would help you” (O’Connor, 1962, pp.9). These lines depict how the grandmother tried to manipulate the murderer in the name of religion, Jesus and praying. “Jesus!” the old lady cried. “You’ve got good blood! I know you wouldn’t shoot a lady! I know you come from nice people! Pray! Jesus, you ought not to shoot a lady.” (O’Connor, 1962, pp.10). The terms ‘good blood’ and ‘you come from nice people’ are used by the author to indicate the grandmother’s definitions of being a good person. And the line, “I’ll give you all the money I’ve got!” (O’Connor, 1962, pp.10) shows how the grandmother tried to convince The Misfit not to kill her when she saw all her manipulations of religion and praying have gone wasted. “Why you’re one of my babies. You’re one of my children!” (O’Connor, 1962, pp.10). This is the emotional blackmailing with the help of which the author tries to convey the message.ComparisonJust like the story “The Good Man is Hard to find” explores different views on good people, the story “The Book of Job” explores the limits of being a good person. Job was the person whose limits have been tested by God on Satan’s claims and requests. The Lord said, “You may test Job. I give you permission to do your worst and to see if he will not remain as true in adversity as he is in prosperity” (Stanton, 1993, pp.94). While in the O’Conner’s tale, The Misfit tests the limits of the grandmother that how far she can go in the belief that he was a good man and her degree of manipulation to save herself from the harm. After testing her limits, The Misfit kills her and says, “She would have been a good woman if it had been somebody there to shoot her every minute of her life” (O’Connor, 1962, pp.11). Thus, one story is a debate on who must be a good person and the other is a test of the goodness of a person.PersonalizationI have observed this hypocrisy of people a lot where they know that the other person is not good or do not follow the requirements of being a good person, but they refer him as good for the fulfillment of their advantages and benefits. I have seen one of my employees flattering the boss so that he can be there in his good books, and my friend’s student telling him that he is his best teacher just to obtain good marks. I have observed my friends doing this with each other when they are in need. We observe this attitude on a regular basis. We emotionally blackmail people around us so that they can help us with what we want.EvaluationI think the story by Mary Flannery O’Connor is worth reading because of its depiction of a concept that is highly relatable. The author highlights one of the weaknesses of a normal human being and convinces that how a person changes his views and perceptions according to the changing situations. She tells that a good person is good, no bad person can be referred to as a good and moral person. And we call a bad or an immoral person good when we intend to have any benefit from his or her side. The author shows this disturbing reality of people which should not be followed.Works CitedO’Connor, Flannery. A good man is hard to find. New English Library, 1962.Stanton, Elizabeth Cady. The woman’s Bible. Upne, 1993.

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