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

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What would be a good one sentence summary of O'Connor's "A Good Man is Hard to Find"?

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mwestwood eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Like most of O'Connor's stories, "A Good Man is Hard to Find" has at its center the theme of grace. And, while the grandmother and Red Sammy commiserate on how "a good man is hard to find," the irony of the story is that the grandmother is unable to receive grace without having met the evil Misfit. For, her redemption is effected only through an encounter with violence and evil that makes her aware of her own sinfulness:

"Why, you're one of my babies.  You're one of my own children!" 

The grandmother's epiphany that arises from her encounter with the Misfit recalls a line from Edward Albee's play, Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? in which George says to Nick, "My God! It takes a lout like me to show you what you really are!"  Perhaps, this is the sentence to summarize Flannery O'Connor's story. 

At any rate, grace and redemption come to a selfish grandmother at the expense of her family and from a dialogue with Malevolence personified.


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booboosmoosh eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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A sentence that best summarizes Flannery...

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dsawyer6929 | Student

I believe the title of the story is the author's encoded one sentence summary.

Here's my reasoning:

There is one mention of the phrase 'a good man' in the story. 
The old woman uses it to describe Red Sam but that was just misdirection.

Going thru character by character, I ruled out the Grandmother, June Star and Red Sammy Butts wife because they are not men. The 3 criminals; The Misfit, Bobby Lee or Hiram, no, they're men but not good

The Misfit's father is a man and the Misfit says he was good but we know he is buried in the Mount Hopewell Baptist churchyard, so he is not hard to find.

The remaining male characters are Mr. Edgar Atkins Teagarden, Bailey, John Wesley and Red Sammy Butts.  I do not see any of these fitting the bill, they may be males, even good, but they do not fit the bill of being 'hard to find'.

That seems to be all of the characters mentioned in the story, except one.

One who is good and a man and does fit the bill of being hard to find; specifically, hard to find in the story.  Whatever faith the Misfit had was shattered, long ago, but he still struggles with it.

The old woman's faith is steadfast, until she is faced with her and her and family's murder, then her faith is shattered too. 

When people become religious, they will say that person 'found Jesus'. I think, that is what the story's title is referring to, substitute the word Jesus, for the phrase 'A Good Man' and you'll get the title, 'Jesus is hard to Find', which seems to fit the story quite well.

On a warm sunny day, when all is right with the world, faith is easy.
When a cell door locks behind you and the walls and ceiling close in; when a cold blooded killer murders your family and prepares to kill you, faith is hard; Jesus is hard to find.