dotted outline of a black cat sitting within a basket in front of an older woman wearing a sundress

A Good Man Is Hard to Find

by Flannery O’Connor

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Which conflict is strongest in "A Good Man is Hard to Find": man versus man, man versus nature, or man versus himself?

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It sounds like you're getting ready to write an position paper, so be sure to begin with a strong thesis that states your opinion. I think you can likely find the most support for the man-versus-man angle, so I might begin with a thesis along these lines:

Through various instances of conflict, "A Good Man Is Hard to Find" demonstrates the battle of man versus man, which culminates in the murder of the main character.

The most obvious conflict of man versus man, of course, is between the grandmother and the Misfit. She tries desperately to save herself by trying to spiritually save him. She tries to convince him that he has "good blood" and that he needs to pray to Jesus. The Misfit tells her that there is "no pleasure but meanness" in life. They go back and forth as the Misfit sends his posse to the woods with each member of her family, killing everyone one person at a time. The grandmother is unable to save herself, and The Misfit eventually kills her, too.

Another, more subtle, example of man-versus-man conflict is the grandmother's racist attitudes, which she displays in the car. She calls a little black child a "pickaninny" and a "nigger." Though she doesn't directly confront this child, it is assumed that she does take her racist attitudes into her society and into her interactions with people who do not share her race.

The grandmother also comes into conflict with her son and his family. Most notably, it is her idea to go down the road which eventually gets them all killed. She has hidden the cat into a basket for the journey, and when it escapes and lands on Bailey, he flips the car. There is constant tension between the grandmother and her son's family, and even when they are being taken to the woods, she only pleads for her own life—not theirs.

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