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Analyzing The Setting Of “A Good Man Is Hard To Find”

1104 words - 5 pages

In Flannery O’Connor’s “A Good Man is Hard to Find,” a grandmother and her son’s family are preparing to take a trip to Florida. The grandmother has read a news article about a convict who calls himself “The Misfit” that has escaped from the federal penitentiary and is presumably heading toward Florida. She tries to persuade her son to go to another destination but he ignores her. On the way to Florida the family observes peculiar sites. The grandmother mentions an old plantation homestead that she visited as a young lady and embellished her memories so that her family would want to visit it. The son finally gives in to the whining of his children and makes the detour. On the dirt road, the ...view middle of the document...

The language she uses suggests the time of the story to be set in the early 1950’s. The grandmother describes the surroundings they encounter with derogatory words that are reminiscent of Southern prejudice during this era.
The author’s vivid description of the scenery is actually the prediction of the ultimate demise of the dysfunctional family. Foreshadowing techniques in which the author gives trivial clues are not apparent until the end of the story. There are several distinct settings in the story, although in the end they all link together. The year is not mentioned, but it is presumably set in the early 1950’s, and takes place in Georgia. The family sets out on a 3 day vacation to Florida, leaving early in the morning from Atlanta, Georgia.
In the first setting, an example of suggestive writing is the mention of gravesites: “they passed a large cotton field with five or six graves fenced in the middle of it, like a small island” (296). This quotation is suggestive in the fact that there are six passengers in the car, which could indicate that the family will end up in graves. The family has a car accident down a deserted road and they are out in the middle of nowhere: “The road looked as if no one had traveled on it in months” (301). This could mean that since no one has been down the road in a long time, perhaps no one will go down that road again in the near future.
In another setting, the family stops to eat at The Tower, a run-down barbeque joint owned by Red Sammy Butts. The setting of this eatery is also reminiscent of doom; it is described as a dark and dingy location. Fitzgerald claims “The author was a devout Catholic and infers several religious convictions throughout the story (XV). The use of the word “tower” could be interpreted as a reference to the biblical story “The Tower of Babel”. Towers can also be interpreted as large and threatening, implying that doom is near.
Another play on words is the mention of a town named Toombsboro. This sounds similar to tomb or tombstone and could be interpreted as a reference to death. Toombsboro is where the grandmother...

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