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What is considered the effect in "A Good Man is Hard to Find?"I am answering questions...

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jrichman31 | Student, College Freshman | eNotes Newbie

Posted August 22, 2012 at 9:06 PM via web

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What is considered the effect in "A Good Man is Hard to Find?"

I am answering questions on a short story analysis and the teacher wants us to describe the effect of the story and how the author creates it.

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amarang9 | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted August 22, 2012 at 9:49 PM (Answer #1)

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In "A Good Man is Hard to Find," one of the effects of O'Connor's third person point of view narration is that the reader must come to his/her own conclusions. The narrator does reveal some of the grandmother's thoughts but remains mostly detached from her and all the other characters. Neither the grandmother nor the wife are given names. The reader is left to construct his/her image of the characters. 

O'Connor also uses foreshadowing. The Misfit is mentioned at the family breakfast table in the opening paragraph. After the family crashes their car, the narrator describes the car holding the Misfit and his two friends as a "big black battered hearselike automobile." 

Also along the lines of the narrator's detachment, it is hard to sympathize or relate to any of the characters. To be sure, one is sympathetic to a murdered family. However, within the context of the story, O'Connor does not elaborate or emphasize any significant admirable qualities in any of the characters. She just describes the situation. 

The grandmother is an unlikable character. She is racist, selfish and her actions are what lead the family to their deaths. For some readers, they are left with the odd consideration of comparing the "goodness" (or lack thereof) of the grandmother with the potential goodness of the Misfit. 

O'Connor claimed that the grandmother had a moment of divine grace and genuine sympathy for the Misfit. Critics have disagreed, arguing that the grandmother was continuing her selfishness, simply trying to save her own life. 

Events are foreshadowed. Characters are left blank, contradictory, or uncertain, leaving the reader to conclude who is good and who is not, and what/how/when goodness exists in people. 

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