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Encyclopedia > A Good Man is Hard to Find (short story)
Author Flannery O'Connor
Original title "A Good Man is Hard to Find"
Country USA
Language English
Genre(s) Southern Gothic
Published in A Good Man Is Hard to Find
Publication type single author anthology
Media type Print
Publication date 1955

"A Good Man is Hard to Find" is a short story written by Flannery O'Connor, who was a southern catholic and often incorporated her religious life into her stories. [1] It is a short story in the collection of short stories with the same name, A Good Man Is Hard to Find. This piece has generated scholarly work discussing its controversial last scene and whether it is more important to look at how Flannery O'Connor meant for it to be interpreted or from a formalist approach. Image File history File links Question_book-3. ... Mary Flannery OConnor (March 25, 1925–August 3, 1964) was an American author. ... The English language is a West Germanic language that originates in England. ... Southern Gothic is a subgenre of the Gothic writing style, unique to American literature. ... A Good Man Is Hard To Find is a collection of short stories by American author Flannery OConnor. ... Mary Flannery OConnor (March 25, 1925–August 3, 1964) was an American author. ... A Good Man Is Hard To Find is a collection of short stories by American author Flannery OConnor. ...


Plot summary

The simple story begins with an inharmonic family discussing where they want to visit for their vacation. The family wanted to go to Florida except for grandmother. She suggested they should rather go to Tennessee. In trying to coax her family to withdraw their decision to go to Florida she says The Misfit who escaped from the Federal Penitentiary is on the loose somewhere on the way Florida, foreshadowing events to come. Despite of her conniving, the family refuses to listen to her and decides to go to Florida. On their way they stop at Red Sammy's during lunch and have a conversation which is primarily centered on memories and recollections about how good life used to be. After leaving for their journey grandmother tells the family about a house and plantation she visited when she was young and coaxes the family into visiting there.

Unfortunately on the way they have a car accident, the central event in this whole story, which involves a smuggled cat which she brought without the consent of her son, Bailey. The grandmother knocks open the valise in which she had hidden the cat and the cat lands on top of Bailey's head. Bailey's sudden, frightful reaction results in an accident in which the car flips over. Once the car comes to a rest, the family gets out. The grandmother complains of internal injuries to try and keep Bailey from lashing out at her. At this point a car appears in the distance and stops upon seeing the wreckage. Three men, Hiram, The Misfit, and Bobby Lee, exit the car, all carrying guns. The grandmother recognizes one of them as The Misfit; worse, she announces this recognition! Which is actually what The Misfit asserts, informing the grandmother that things would have been much better for them all if only she had never recognized him.

While persuading The Misfit to save her life and in trial to infiltrate her religious beliefs the members of the family are taken into the woods one-by-one and shot. When grandmother tries to touch The Misfit after saying he is also one of my child The Misfit recoils and shoots her three times.


The Grandmother
She is a selfish old woman who is murdered at the end of the story for touching the Misfit. Her announcement of the newspaper article about the Misfit foreshadows the family's meeting with the Misfit later in the story.
The Misfit
A cold-hearted killer who isn't religious and doesn't want to be, citing his disbelief in the powers of Jesus as a main reason for his non-Christian outlook. He kills without feeling, as seen by his taking of the father's parrot shirt after he kills him
The father of the family. Wears the parrot shirt the misfit takes and is one of the first to be taken in the woods and killed. He is impatient and is attacked by the family cat, causing the wreck that brings them to the Misfit.
John Wesley
An impudent boy who degrades the family. He is supposedly named after the founder of Methodism, a denomination of the Christian Church.
June Star
A selfish little girl who is always mean to her grandmother and is one of the last people to die.
The Mother
Unnamed and almost never mentioned, with only one quote. Not very important, except that she represents the contrast between the old, forgotten Southern woman (the Grandmother) and the new, Southern lady.


There are many varying opinions of the content found within Flannery O'Connor's "A Good Man is Hard to Find." Most of this discrepancy centers around the grandmother touching the Misfit: was she just trying to save herself yet again or was it an act of charity and grace?

The opinion that the grandmother's final act was one of grace and charity follows that "A Good Man is Hard to Find" was written to show the change in the Grandmother as the story progresses. In the beginning, she was more concerned about looking like a good Christian than being a good Christian. This is shown by her selfish want to go to Tennessee instead of Florida and, more importantly, by her attempts to save her own life, even as her family continued to die around her. In the end, she realizes she has not led a good life and reaches out to touch her killer, the Misfit, in a final act of grace and charity. Even though she fails, her attempt is not lost on the Misfit, who remarks about how under the threat of violence, she was a good woman. [2]

A second popular opinion of the issue is that the grandmother's final act was not an act of charity and that she is yet again trying to save herself from being murdered. Some say that Flannery O'Connor uses the excuse as the grandmother's final "moment of grace" to save the story from the bloodshed and violence. [3] It is also argued that by the time the grandmother touches the Misfit, proclaiming he is her son, he is wearing Bailey's shirt. Other opinions include that it is contradictory or her character or that she was simply yet again trying to save her self and that her selfishness is never overcome throughout the story. [4]


  1. ^ Yardley, Jonathan (2005), The Writer Who Was Full of Grace, p. C.01, <http://proquest.umi.com/pqdweb?did=863234001&sid=1&Fmt=3&clientId=15092&RQT=309&VName=PQD>
  2. ^ Desmond, John (2004), Flannery O'Connor's Misfit and the Mystery of Evil, Renascence, pp. 129-138, <http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qa3777/is_200401/ai_n9397988>
  3. ^ Ochshorn, Kathleen (1990), A Cloak of Grace: Contradictions in "A Good Man is Hard to Find", Studies in American Fiction, pp. 113-117
  4. ^ Bandy, Stephen (1996), 'One of my Babies': The Misfit and the Grandmother, Studies in Short Fiction, pp. 107-117, <http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m2455/is_n1_v33/ai_19638483>



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