Good Man Is Hard To Find In Flanney OConners, “A Good Man is Hard to Find” a great deal of irony is used to express her views on how society and culture in the present day and how it has changed from the past. OConnor used the familys grandmother as a key component in the story because of her personality and also because of her old age. She was able to show her feeling about the deterioration of respect for family and elders through the grandmother. The tales idea explores into deeper things then just respect. As the story continues many spiritual observations are made and the regards to how the “old South” views on religion and “common blood” used to be.
The beginning of the story is an important part because the reader is first exposed to the idea that the grandmother is little respected or listened to by any of the family members. She begins by challenging the family against taking a trip to Florida, because she had just learned a crazed killer by the name of the Misfit who is on the run into that area. When this argument is brought forth to the family, “Bailey didnt look up from his reading, so she wheeled around then and faced the childrens mother” (232) who also showed the same interest and respect as the father did. One important element in this scene was when the grandmother made this remark. She was astounded that her son would be willing to take his family into such a place with possible danger and remarked with, “I wouldnt take my children in any direction with a criminal like that a lose in it. I couldnt answer to my conscience if I did” (232). At first interpretation most readers probably thought was just a way for the grandmother to get out of going on the trip, although it was an example for the author to show how family life had changed from her time. Even with changing family styles, grandparents are a group of people who are usually admired and looked up to by family members, and a favorite of young children.
The aspect of this story that made it even more powerful was the authors chose to include the children in playing a role that was much similar to their older counterparts. This put a big emphasize on the how lifes morals are transferred from one generation to the next. She wanted the reader to see how the people the parents were could be seen in the attitude of the children. As the trip to Florida begins grandmother settles in for the car ride and keeps herself occupied by taken in and enjoying the county, its sites, and informing the others about its history. Around this time, the children begin to reveal themselves as brats, and illustrate the lost respect and discipline.
June Star and her brother begin slapping each other and the grandmother. Without say from the childrens parents, the grandmother takes it upon herself to keep the peace between them, by telling them a story of a black child mistakenly eating her watermelon with initials from a suitor carved in it reading E.A.T. At one point John Wesley says: “Lets go through Georgia fast so we dont have to look at it much, John Wesley said. “If I were a little boy,” said the grandmother, “I wouldnt talk about my native state that way. Tennessee has the mountains and Georgia has the hills.” “Tennessee is just a hillbilly dumping ground, “John Wesley said, “and Georgia is a lousy state too.” “You said it, “June Star said. This comment made by the children got under the grandmothers skin.
She tried to explain to them that in her time children were more respectful of their native states and to their parents. “People did right then” (233). The families encounter with Red Sammy serves as another outlet for O’Connor to express how trust and respect have begun to wear away. As Red and the grandmother began to discuss better times, they seem to be close in age relationship. Their discussion leads them to learn they both share the same views that modern life and society have been changing for the worse.
Red Sammy explained, “A good man is hard to find. Everything is getting terrible. I remember the day you could go off and leave your screen door unlatched. Not no more” (235). A perfect example of the situation which Red and the grandmother spoke about was when Red Sams wife was admiring how cute June Star. When Reds wife joked and asked if she would like to come stay with her June snapped back with, “No, I certainly wouldnt.
I wouldnt live in a broken-down place like this for a million bucks!” (235) At this point it is important once again to see how the parents role is incorporated in the story. Not at any point where the children ever scolded or disciplined for their actions, they only sat back and ignored what was going on. The grandmother once again had to take it upon herself to scold June star for making such a rude comment to the woman. When the trip continues the grandmother makes the mistake of telling the children about a house with secret panel that is nearby. The children scream and kick the back of his father seat until he can feel the blows in his kidneys.
Finally Bailey can not take anymore of the childrens acting out and he concedes to visit the house that the grandmother spoke about. It was on this bumpy and windy road where ironically the newspaper concealing the cat moves causing Pitty Sing to lurch on Bailey’s shoulder resulting in the car being overturned. As everyone is getting their bearings, June Star was said to be, “sad with disappointment as the grandmother limped out of the car” (237). After the crash a car slowly approaches revealing three men. When they get out of their car, the grandmother recognizes the Misfit at once. Ironically he reveals himself to be polite and sociable and even apologizes to the grandmother for Bailey’s rudeness to her.
But he also doesn’t waste any time as he asks one of his cronies to escort Bailey and John Wesley off into the woods to meet their fate. The grandmother and the Misfit engage in a conversation which is supposed to convey a message which I explained what life was, and what it is turning into. After the grandmother tries to appeal to the Misfit by stating that he looks to have”common blood”, he goes into a story about his family and how he had come from some of the “finest people in the world” (239). This comment once again brought up evidence that as generations continue things do change. Threw the conversation between Misfit and the grandmother he conveys a message of human awareness that while people are conscious and aware of ourselves, we are basically animals with violent and primal drives at our cores.
This message I believe was one the in some ways summed up the themes story. It is an explanation of why people today have different morals and act in such away that is different from the past. As the grandmother tries to plead with Misfit with the use of religion it can easily be seen that they are on two very different levels with concern to religion. The Misfit seems to have a much deeper understanding of religion and the spiritual aspects of life than the grandmother. As the two continue in conversation I believe that they both come to a type of understanding that the religious beliefs of yesterday are no match for the scientific context of the modern world. The grandmother responds in the only way she knows how to by clinging to her beliefs about “good blood” and men behaving as a gentleman would.
In the end, I think OConnor was able to transmit her ultimate message about society and culture in the modern world. The world is an ever-changing place and it is human nature to follow your own road, whether it be wrong or right. The strive to be free is a great of life which religion nor education can overcome. The grandmother represented a dyeing group of people, who are being replaced by a new generation which is very different from ones of yesterday. The people of this day and age will have to pay sometime, and society already shows the shotgun wounds to prove it.