A Good Man Is Hard to Find
The story begins with grandmother Bailey trying to dissuade her son from taking the family to Florida. Since she wants to go elsewhere, she shows her son an article about the southbound Misfit. This tactic fails to alarm Bailey, and the family, including Pitty Sing, a cat hidden in the grandmother’s valise, begins the ominous journey southward.
Bailey reluctantly follows his mother’s request to take a sightseeing detour to a plantation. Embarrassed upon remembering that the building is in another state, the grandmother kicks the valise. Pitty Sing jumps on Bailey, who, as a result, overturns the car.
The grandmother signals for help, but when a car stops in response, she realizes that the supposed rescuers are the Misfit and his gang. While the family members are methodically taken in pairs into the woods and executed, the grandmother and the Misfit discuss the meaning of life. The climax nears when the grandmother asks the murderer to bow and pray with her.
The grandmother’s Christian love for the Misfit reflects an important religious theme within O’Connor’s fiction--the perseverance of divine grace in the presence of evil. Frequently, O’Connor creates characters who are weak and only concerned with the material realm. She then places them in a position in which they experience the divine realm, usually resulting in painful sacrifice.
Violence is common in O’Connor’s fiction; however, her emphasis is on the gains brought about by characters such as the grandmother who directly confront the world’s evil with grace.
Asals, Frederick. Flannery O’Connor: The Imagination of Extremity. Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1982.
Bloom, Harold. Flannery O’Connor. New York: Chelsea House, 1986.
Cash, Jean W. Flannery O'Connor: A Life. University of Tennessee, 2002.
Cheatham, George. “Jesus, O’Connor’s Artificial Nigger.” Studies in Short Fiction 22, no. 4 (Fall, 1985): 475-479. Offers a brief discussion of the symbolism of the statue in “The Artificial Nigger.”
Cheney, Brainard. “Flannery O’Connor’s Campaign for Her Country.” Sewanee Review 72...
(The entire section is 498 words.)