A Good Man is Hard to Find

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Flannery O’Connor’s “A Good Man is Hard to Find” is the story of a family’s vacation tragically ended by a murderer and his gang. Through O’Connor’s use of characterization, symbolism and the theme that “A Good Man is Hard to Find”, O’Connor’s point that society’s morals and faith has crumbled is conveyed. O’Connor’s use of characterization shows the breaking down of respect and discipline in American society. From past generations to present generations, this message can be understood. Grandma represents the past with her strong “southern hospitality” heritage. Later on she even states, “In my time…children were more respectful of their native states and their parents and everything else. People did right then.” The grandchildren, however, are a product of where this gap between social courtesy and lack of discipline apply. In the beginning of the story June Star rudely comments to her grandmother, “She wouldn’t’ stay home for a million bucks, afraid she’d miss something. She has to go everywhere we go.” When John Wesley was asked by the grandmother what he would do if confronted by the Misfit his reply was, “I’d smack his face.” But in the end we find this to be very untrue. The Misfit’s character is again the result of the breakdown in humanity, family values and all of the values that have been lost in today’s culture. The Misfit may have some social graces because he responds respectfully and apologizes to the grandmother for Bailey’s harsh comment, but there is some uneasiness about the morals his own father had as a role model. There is a hint that the Misfit’s father had a darker side and had some run-ins with the authorities. The Misfit explained to the grandmother, “Daddy was a card himself. You could never put anything over on him. He never got in trouble with the authorities though. Just had the knack of handling them.”
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