The short story by Flannery O’Connor, A Good Man is Hard to Find, revolves around a family on a trip to Florida. Little do they know that they are about to encounter an escaped convict on their journey. The narrative’s literary elements, including point of view, setting, character, plot, and structure, have enhanced the author’s description. These elements point to the notion that it is hard to find a good man. The narrative’s literary elements such as the setting, point of view, character, plot, and structure aim to showcase the flaw in the Misfit’s worldview that ends a family going on vacation. These literary elements in the short story enhance the author’s narrative by supporting the notion that it is hard to find a good man.
Point of View
The narrator’s point of view posits that individuals make decisions suitable for their happiness while failing to consider others’ feelings. The grandmother tries to discourage her children from going on the trip to Florida and opt for Tennessee. She does this to meet her friends. The character ironically claims that she fears they will encounter a violent criminal she hears about (O’Connor 2). However, the grandmother ends up exposing her family to the danger of meeting the criminal when she suggests they should visit a house she remembers from her youth. The grandmother inadvertently reveals that she knows the Misfit and leads the criminal to kill her family. In this case, the grandmother is the bad person as she manipulates her family to visit a particular place that does not have the features she uses to entice the children to pressure her son, Bailey, into going. The grandmother unknowingly acts as the bad guy, seeking personal thrills at the expense of her family, an issue that leads to their death.
The character of the Misfit enhances O’Connor’s narrative. He is described as a dangerous convict that escaped prison and demonstrates his devious nature when he kills the grandmother’s family, showing his viciousness. He makes the killings because the grandmother informed him that she knows him. His attitude does not follow the notions of morality because he does what he wills. His averseness to gestures of love and kindness is demonstrated when he shoots the grandmother when she attempts to reach him. The character of the Misfit contributes significantly to the author’s notion that it is difficult to find a good man.
The family’s decision to go to Florida as opposed to Tennessee sets the stage for their gruesome killing. It is crucial to note the grandmother suggested they should visit another area, a factor that may have aided them to avoid the Misfit. It is improbable to recognize the time in which the story is set, one cannot accurately discern the connection between the time of setting and the narrative emphasizing the difficult nature of finding a good man. The forested area where Bailey and his family are murdered showcase the shady nature of the characters in this story (O’Connor 12). It further promotes the ominous design where one cannot accurately discern whether someone is dead or alive after they are taken to the woods. This showcases the difficult way of determining whether someone is a good man in this society. Red Sammy Butts’ good nature is a stark contrast to the Misfit (O’Connor 7). This shows the varying culture and how it leads people to act differently, some turning out evil while others maintain moral values.
The book’s plot enhances the author’s narrative concerning the absence of good men in society. The story’s beginning introduces us to the narrative’s main characters, including the grandmother, her family, and the Misfit. Bailey’s family meets the Misfit out of sheer bad luck as they did not intend to take a detour. It is crucial to note their encounter with Red Sammy and his wife as they talk about the Misfit during this instance. The story’s plot further posits the author’s intention to illustrate that good man are hard to find as the Misfit derides Jesus’ actions. He finds fault in good deeds and claims they are an imbalance in nature. The Misfit does not consider that killing others could be a mistake or cause an imbalance, seemingly condemning righteous actions. It is prudent to note the Misfit does not take responsibility for killing his father, seemingly taking on the victim role as he does when he mentions Jesus. The audience can discern he does not speak truthfully and lives in a world where criminals are not wrong as one is arrested without cause, a delusional notion.
The author uses a narrative structure that gradually introduces the audience to various characters in the story. one can tell the grandmother plays a major role in this instance as she seeks to have the family go her way instead of going along with what they have agreed on as a family. She manipulates the parents by using the children as an excuse, a fact that works when they take the detour that kills them. The Misfit and his men meet the family in trouble and further posit the story’s narrative, good men are hard to find. They kill three children without batting an eye and proceed to mock the grandmother for trying to save her lie. This cold nature illustrates their vicious and evil nature, emphasizing O’Connor’s argument.
Conclusively, O’Connor uses literary elements to demonstrate the efficacy of his title. The characters, setting, plot, structure, and point of view lead Bailey’s family to their doom. They meet various people along the way that further propagate this notion through their experiences. The Misfit and his gang exemplify this problem, a factor that the grandmother ironically fails to notice before claiming she identifies the criminal openly.
O’Connor, Flannery, A Good Man is Hard to Find. Harcourt, Brace and Company.1953.