The short story, a good man is hard to find by Flannery O’Connor, first appeared in her publication in 1955. It has, over the years, been regarded as one of her best work of short fiction writings. O’Connor is known for her writing characteristics; a contrast of violent action with humorously and carefully drawn characters and a philosophy that underscores her devout Roman Catholic faith. Literature critics have appreciated how she involves her catholic faith belief with the story. She brings out the role of God and how his grace plays part in the lives of ordinary people. The story is also disturbing while at the same time very humorous attributing to another of her characteristics as reflected by her other novel like, wise blood and the violent bears it away. The story starts by the introduction of an escaped misfit, who ends up killing his entire family in the end. O’Connor connects God’s grace in the story with the misfit’s grandmother. The old woman, who is a petty, cantankerous, and overbearing individual, attains grace on her deathbed and acknowledges the misfit as one of her own child. The story is narrated by a third-person narrator. The narrator main focus is the grandmother and her perception of event that occurs in her life.
The themes used in the story takes the reader through a series of emotional event. O'Connor entertains the reader with a really scary story but finishes it with a Christian lesson that settles the reader’s high thrill.
One of the themes used in a good man is hard to find is ‘prejudice vs. tolerance’. Throughout the story, the grandmother posses a false sense of self-righteousness demonstrates racial prejudice. This is easily reflected with her words and actions. She believes that for one to have good character, he or she must come from a good family. The grandmother is one of the numerous characters in the story that flaunt their prejudice.
The other theme that is broadly used in the story is ‘God and religion’. In most of her novels, O'Connor uses the theme of ‘God and religion’ due to her religious background. The characters are put in situations where they convey her message that humans being are trapped in their selfish and petty world and often don’t seek for understanding and connection; they miss out on love.
Lastly the other theme O'Connor has used widely is violence and cruelty. Most of O'Connor’s fictions have a sense of violence. This acts as a way to get the readers’ attention. In the story, the misfit kills the grandmother’s family and finally kills her. Even after she has acknowledged that she is one of her own children. O'Connor believed that God's grace often came into people's lives precisely when they are not looking for it.
The book according to my opinion was written to convert people to Christianity. From the characters she choice, it’s evident that O’Connor cared about the youth and with her strong religious belief wanted to communicate to them through the story. She wanted them to live their life in a Christian way. A good man is hard to find by Flannery O’Connor reflects her deep concerns for a community build with good values and priorities. Most of O'Connor’s stories have similar traits like the main character(s) being in a troublesome situation only to “see the light” at the end. Christian critics have dismissed her work stating is immoral whilst she use the extreme bad situation to show the greatness of gods power in a positive way.
Kathleen G. Ochshorn, "A Cloak of Grace: Contradictions in 'A Good Man Is Hard to Find'," in Studies in American Fiction, Vol 18.
Gordon, Caroline "With a Glitter of Evil," in The New York Times Book Review, June 12, 1955, p. 5.
Hendri, Josephine. The World of Flannery O'Connor, Indiana University Press, 1970