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A Good Man Is Hard to Find

by Flannery O’Connor

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What genre is "A Good Man is Hard to Find"?

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The short story "A Good Man is Hard to Find" by Flannery O'Connor is generally described as in the Southern Gothic style. Themes found in Southern Gothic literature include decayed or poverty-stricken settings, grotesque characters, and violence. The Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Literature also notes there is often an undercurrent of dark humor and "an overall angst-ridden sense of alienation" present in Southern Gothic works.

A Southern Gothic narrative will suggest an appearance of normalcy, but the perverse or bizarre will be lurking beneath the surface, and it will erupt in a shocking manner. As O'Connor herself explains in "Some Aspects of the Grotesque in Southern Fiction" (1960),

[i]n these grotesque works, we find that the writer has made alive some experience which we are not accustomed to observe every day, or which the ordinary man may never experience in his ordinary life.

O'Connor, a devout Catholic, also included religious ideas in her stories that are presented obliquely in symbolic or allegorical ways. Again quoting O'Connor,

[w]henever I'm asked why Southern writers particularly have a penchant for writing about freaks, I say it is because we are still able to recognize one. To be able to recognize a freak, you have to have some conception of the whole man, and in the South the general conception of man is still, in the main, theological.

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On the broadest level, "A Good Man is Hard to Find" is a short story. It is largely realistic in its description. Its tone is ironic. It has strong moral implications, and at times comes close to being an allegory (due to the presence and actions of the Misfit, and the way the family gets lost on their way).

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