Hello, I need help to analyze the story "A Good Man Is Hard to Find." Here are some questions to be answered:O'Connor was a devout Catholic. Therefore, it is not much of a surprise that she uses so...

Hello, I need help to analyze the story "A Good Man Is Hard to Find." Here are some questions to be answered:

O'Connor was a devout Catholic. Therefore, it is not much of a surprise that she uses so much foreshadowing since the Old Testament foreshadows everything that happens in the New Testament. How does O'Connor employ foreshadowing, what are examples, and how does this establish the theme?

There is something strange going on with The Misfit, Red Sammy, and Hiram. Through research or your own close readings, why does O'Connor tell us so much about The Misfit's upbringing, and why does she use similar physical details when describing Red Sammy and Hiram?

Believe it or not, this story is a metaphor for a dysfunctional family's journey towards eternal judgement. What details in the story suggest that the grandmother is redeemed as a Christian, and what details suggest that The Misfit has changed his mind about what the true meaning of life is, if they've done this at all?

Expert Answers
andrewnightingale eNotes educator| Certified Educator

As a literary device, foreshadowing is used by an author to give readers a hint of what is to happen later in the story. Foreshadowing creates suspense and makes the reader interested to know more. The story "A Good Man Is Hard to Find" exhibits some instances in which foreshadowing is evident.

Early on in the story, for example, the grandmother states, "I wouldn't take my children in any direction with a criminal like that aloose in it" after she had read an article about The Misfit having escaped from jail. Her reference foreshadows the family's later encounter with the very same criminal and his two associates. When she asks June Star, "Yes and what would you do if this fellow, The Misfit, caught you?" she is also predicting their eventual meeting with the ruthless criminals.

The grandmother dresses herself up because "In case of an accident, anyone seeing her dead on the highway would know at once that she was a lady." Her actions and her belief foreshadow her demise at the end of the story. The family's terrible fate is also foreshadowed when the grandmother draws attention to a graveyard during their journey: 

They passed a large cotton field with five or six graves fenced in the middle of it, like a small island. "Look at the graveyard!" the grandmother said, pointing it out. "That was the old family burying ground. That belonged to the plantation."

Bailey's remark that "this is the only time we're going to stop for anything like this. This is the one and only time" also foreshadows the fatal end of their journey. The criminals' approaching vehicle is described as "a big black battered hearse-like automobile" and also foreshadows the family's approaching doom.

Finally, the grandmother's death is foreshadowed when The Misfit tells her "Lady . . . there never was a body that give the undertaker a tip" when she offers to give him all the money she has.

Foreshadowing, in this instance, establishes the inevitability of death. Death is the fate of all living things. O'Connor also indicates the perverse nature of those who are truly evil. The reader is continually made aware that this simple, somewhat dysfunctional family cannot escape its destiny. Not even the grandmother's desperate attempts at getting The Misfit to reconsider his actions and become repentant are enough to save her and her family.

The Misfit has decided to adopt this name, as he says, "because I can't make what all I done wrong fit what all I gone through in punishment." O'Connor's detailed description of his past serves to indicate just what a confused and messed-up wreck he has been since his earliest years. He never seemed to take any responsibility for his actions and blamed the system for punishing him, because they had the papers to prove his crimes. He, instead, just forgot about what he had done. In the end, he became a career criminal. None of the normal activities of life seemed to appeal much to him. Furthermore, his matter-of-fact references to some of the atrocities he witnessed and his denial of having caused his father's death show just how much he has been criminalized. The Misfit rather sees himself as a Christ-like figure who has been wrongly accused and punished. He displays a perverse awareness of himself.

Red Sammy and Hiram are described in much the same terms. They are mere acolytes and follow The Misfit's every command. They lack the character and insight their leader has. The Misfit has adopted a careless attitude and does not seem to want redemption. He believes that whatever he does does not matter since it will not make any difference. He obviously believes that he has already been judged and feels that seeking redemption or changing his ways will not make any difference.

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