A Good Man Is Hard to Find Questions and Answers
by Flannery O’Connor

A Good Man Is Hard to Find book cover
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How would you explain the title of "A Good Man is Hard to Find"?

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The title of this excellent short story comes from Red Sam when he discusses what is going on in the world with the grandmother, who has just called him a "good man" because he let two strangers fill up their car with gas and promise to come back and pay. Needless to say, they did not return. Note what Red Sam says:

"A good man is hard to find," Red Sam said. "Everything is getting terrible. I remember the day you could go off and leave your screen door unlatched. Not so more."

What is fascinating about the "good man" is that the story really shows the grandmother's search for a "good man." She seems to think Red Sam is a "good man," but in this situation, the adjective "good" actually seems to imply over-trusting and naive. Likewise, she calls the Misfit "good" because she believes that he will not shoot her because she is a lady. She constantly judges whether somebody is "good" or not based on her own values and whether others agree with them. "Good" for her does not imply "moral" or "kind." Perhaps the real message of the story is based around the difficulties of separating our own values from any definition of what it means to be "good." As long as we continue to do this, we will never find a "good" man, the story implies.

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