In the short story “A Good Man Is Hard to Find”, written by Flannery O’Connor, the theme of the mysterious definition of a “good man” is apparent. The true definition of a ‘good man’ is flawed, but one must also realize that it is difficult to universalize simply because every person is entitled to their own opinion. O’Connor conveys this theme through her excellent use of diction, imagery, foreshadowing, and symbolism as well as through a creative use of repetition and an omniscient point of view.
The grandmother, the main character of the story, is manipulative, and in a sense, the definition of a ‘good man’ is referring to her belief of what characteristics a ‘good man’ possesses. From the beginning, the reader is given the indication that the grandmother is determined to get what she wants and will do whatever she can to do so. And, from the second line of the story, O’Connor suggests that anything the grandmother says might have an alternative motive. “The grandmother didn’t want to go to Florida. She wanted to visit some of her connections in east Tennessee and she was seizing at every chance to change Bailey’s mind” (1284). When the grandmother mentions that she doesn’t want to go to Florida, her son Bailey assumes it’s because of the Misfit killer who has escaped from prison. However, in actuality, she wanted to visit other family and friends in Tennessee.
Throughout the story, O’Connor uses creative words and phrases as well as figurative language to help keep the reader engaged. For example, when the family is driving, O’Connor makes it a point to thoroughly describe the area, which they are passing through. “She [the grandmother] pointed out interesting details of the scenery: Stone Mountain, the blue granite that in some places came up to both sides of the highway; the brilliant red clay banks slightly streaked with purple; and the various crops that made row of green lace-work on the ground. The trees were full of silver white sunlight and the meanest of them sparkled” (1286). She uses informal diction to help achieve the targeted theme and her slight use of a southern dialect is one brilliant component that helps her to do so. For example, when the family stops for barbecue sandwiches along their way to Tennessee, the owner’s wife compliments the granddaughter. “’Ain’t she cute?” Red Sam’s wife said, leaning over the counter. “Would you like to come be my little girl?”’ (1287). Adding this southern twist of diction as well as the southern setting helps to bridge the gap between the reader’s definition of a good man and the grandmother’s definition of a good man.
Imagery is used flawlessly in this short story. O’Connor uses descriptive adjectives fairly often to paint a picture in the reader’s mind and to add spice to her writing. She uses religious imagery and sensory imagery throughout the text not only to keep the reader thinking but also to appeal to the reader. For example, the image of the sky at first glance appears to...