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What is the point of view in "A Good Man Is Hard to Find", and what is the significance...

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help09 | Student | eNotes Newbie

Posted July 19, 2007 at 11:47 PM via web

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What is the point of view in "A Good Man Is Hard to Find", and what is the significance of that title?

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cmcqueeney | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Associate Educator

Posted July 20, 2007 at 12:54 AM (Answer #1)

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The title speaks the truth, or at least O'Connor's idea of it, about the characters in the story and people in general.  She believes that "a good man(or woman) is hard to find".  Each of the characters in the story is depicted harshly or somewhat negatively - they are not likeable.  O'Connor, who was a strong Roman Catholic, demonstrates in this story that humans are completely undeserving of God's grace.  The grandmother at the very end receives grace as she reaches out to the Misfit, but the changes in her only come because she is being held at gunpoint about to die.

The story is written in the third person - with the grandmother's thoughts and perspective being prominent. 

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sagetrieb | College Teacher | (Level 3) Educator

Posted July 20, 2007 at 10:31 PM (Answer #2)

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O’Connor lets us know whose story this is in the first two lines, “The grandmother didn’t want to go to Florida. She wanted to visit some of her connections in east Tennesseeand she was seizing at every chance to change Bailey’s mind.” Note how the narrator immediately gives us access to information in the grandmother’s mind, more than what an outside observer would know, but  does so in the voice of an observer.  The narrator does not say “the grandmother thought that” but rather just states her thoughts. As for the meaning of the work, as the other respondent explains, this story as all of O’Connor’s work needs to be read in terms of her Christianity and the significance of original sin, which makes all people deeply flawed.  In an essay “Mystery and Manners” O’Connor states that the subject of her work is “the action of grace in territory held largely by the devil." She tries to portray in each story “an action that is totally unexpected, yet totally believable," often an act of violence, violence being "the extreme situation that best reveals what we are essentially.” Through violence she wants to evoke Christian mystery.

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