Identifying Evil In Flannery O'connor's A Good Man Is Hard To Find

2500 words - 10 pages

Flannery O’Connor’s short story “A Good Man is Hard to Find”, is tale about a grandmother who unknowingly steers her family to a fatal meeting with a fugitive. The chance encounter with the murderous fugitive ultimately costs the grandmother and her family their lives. Sticking with the Southern Gothic genre, O’Connor takes odd characters and mixes in dark encounters to produce a story packed full of hidden meanings and foreshadowing (Language and Literature, 2). At first glance, it seems easy to identify the character that represents evil in the story, the murderous outlaw. However, things are not always, what they seem; a closer look will reveal that the murder might not be the evilest character in the story.
The story opens with a portrayal of a family in their home discussing a planned road trip to Florida. The family consists of a married couple, their three children, and the husband’s mother, the children’s maternal grandmother. The grandmother, who is never named in the story, begins the story by attempting to convince her son, Bailey, that they should change the destination of their road trip to avoid running into a convict who had escaped. While this might seem reasonable, the grandmother’s intentions are self-serving and foreshadow events to come in the story. She makes a few remarks including,
"Here this fellow that calls himself The Misfit is aloose from the Federal Pen and headed toward Florida and you read here what it says he did to these people. Just you read it. I wouldn't take my children in any direction with a criminal like that aloose in it. I couldn't answer to my conscience if I did" (O’Connor, 1).
Her suggestion to change destinations is met with resistance from the rest of the family members; Bailey and his wife ignore her, the two eldest children, a boy named John and a girl named June, both respond rudely and condescending to their grandmother’s request. The family beats down the grandmother’s suggestion as if they are used to her making suggestions that only reflect her own desires and paints the picture that the family no longer considers anything the grandmother suggests. Comments such as the following reflect the contempt the family feels towards the grandmother.
John Wesley the eldest boy responds to his grandmother’s request by saying "If you don't want to go to Florida, why dontcha stay at home?" (O’Connor, 3). His sister June responds a few lines later by insinuating that her grandmother would not stay home because in her opinion her grandmother would be “Afraid she'd miss something. She has to go everywhere we go" (O’Connor, 7).
The family members discount and disrespect the grandmother either through sarcasm or by ignoring her (Hendricks, 204). While not “evil”, it demonstrates a lack of respect and consideration between the family and the grandmother. The sentiment of contempt is not lopsided but mutually occurring. The children and their parent disrespect the grandmother, but the grandmother also seems to...

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