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Highlight the events from the plot which may have led you to a particular theme from...

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angela21 | Student, Undergraduate | (Level 1) eNoter

Posted July 2, 2009 at 9:29 AM via web

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Highlight the events from the plot which may have led you to a particular theme from "A Good Man is Hard to Find".

 

using language of literature to express parts of the story, and treating characters using terms such a dynamic, round, static and flat.

I'm really stuck on how to start and  what to write, can anyone help please. Thank you

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epollock | (Level 3) Valedictorian

Posted July 2, 2009 at 1:11 PM (Answer #1)

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angela21,

First start with some simplified definitions.

Round--a character with many facets and traits evenly proportioned.

Flat--a character with one dominant trait. (As opposed to a stock character that has only one trait, e.g. evil stepsister, handsome prince.

Dynamic--a character that grows, changes and develops. (Either positively or negatively.)

Static--a character that does not change throughout the story.

Flannery O'Connor's short story "A Good Man is Hard to Find" centers on a grandmother and her eventual meeting with a killer. It is the story of her long overdue moral and spiritual growth. She causes things to happen; the Misfit (killer) merely reacts to her. She persuades the family to depart from the main road to see the old plantation. She causes the accident by letting the cat out of the basket. She dooms the family when she recognizes the Misfit. Her final gesture incites the Misfit to murder her.

In “A Good Man Is Hard to Find” the grandmother dies loving (and presumably forgiving) the Misfit. In the course of “A Good Man Is Hard to Find,” the grandmother grows and changes--she is round and dynamic. At first, she seems a small-minded biddy, selfish or at least self-centered, capable of stupid remarks like “Oh look at the cute little pickaninny!” (18) and “People are certainly not nice like they used to be” (36), capable of blaming Europe for “the way things were now” (45), of regretting that she hadn’t married Mr. Teagarden “because he was a gentleman and had bought Coca-Cola stock when it first came out” (27).

In the end, when “her head cleared for an instant,” the grandmother becomes newly perceptive. She reveals—and offers to the Misfit (flat and static)—her vast, compassionate heart. There is no reason to doubt the Misfit’s shrewd remark, “She would have been a good woman . . . if it had been somebody there to shoot her every minute of her life.” In killing her, the Misfit has done her a tremendous favor: he has made a martyr of her. For one moment just before she dies, the old lady doubts Jesus, or at least feels forsaken: “Maybe he didn’t raise the dead” (134). It is an understandable reaction, after the colossal shock she has undergone: she knows that her family has been massacred. But this moment of confusion passes. The grandmother is headed straight to heaven for her final Christ-like act of love the moment before she dies.

Symbolically, in death the old woman’s body lies with legs in the form of a cross, a look of childlike sweetness on her face. The Misfit, naturally, is glum, having just declined a chance for his own salvation.

The scene at Red Sammy’s Barbecue heightens the suspense and enforces the foreshadowing hint that the much talked-about Misfit is bound to show his face. In his highway signs, Red Sammy boasts of his uniqueness: NONE LIKE FAMOUS RED SAMMY’S. He considers himself a hard-to-find good man. In calling him a good man (36), the grandmother first introduces the theme. The barbecue proprietor agrees with her, even declares, thinking of how many bad characters are on the loose these days, “A good man is hard to find” (44). In the end, the title leaves us thinking: yes, a good man (a saint) certainly is hard to find. We find, at the end, a serenely good woman whose salvation has been achieved only through traumatic suffering and the amazing arrival of grace.

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