Symbolism in A Good Man Is Hard to Find by Flannery O'Connor

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in "A Good Man Is Hard to Find" Flannery O' Connor uses symbolism to give more meaning to her short story. O'Connor writes a story of a Grandmother versus a Misfit, or good versus evil. This short story is about a family going to Florida, who takes a turn down a dirt road, which only causes them to get in an accident, and be found by the Misfit. This encounter prevented them from ever arriving Florida, because the Misfit ends their lives. Using symbolism, O'Connor creates a story with much meaning to the Grandmother, nature, sky, woods, their surroundings, roads, and cars to portray the constant battle between good and evil.
In "A Good Man is Hard to Find" the Grandmother is a main character that symbolizes a savior. O' Connor describes the Grandmother as a savior with grace, who is saving the Misfit from evil. ." O’Connor determinues that the Grandmother shall be the Misfit’s savior, even though she may not seem so in the story” (Bandy, 151). She reaches out to the Misfit with a "touch of grace" because she is portrayed as the "good character" in the story. The Grandmothers purpose is trying to save the Misfit, or the "evil character." At the end of the story, when she was talking to the Misfit after she realized that he was going to kill her she murmurs, "'Why you're one of my own babies. You're one of my own children!' She reaches out and touches him on the shoulder. The Misfit sprang back as if a snake had bitten him and shot her three times through the chest" (O'Connor). Here the significance is that the Misfit was offered grace from the Grandmother, but denies it. “When the Misfit shoots the grandmother he is recoiling from whatever grace she offers. He is rejecting not just any warmth conveyed in the touch, but also the revolting world she represents and the repulsive notion that he is her child“ (Ochshorn 112). He does not accept her as his savior and shoots her three times. The significance about the number of times she was shot is notable to be the second most important symbol in the story. “To insist at this moment of mutual revelation that the Grandmother is transformed into the agent of God’s grace is to do serious violence in the story. It is as tendentious as to decree that the bullets in her chest symbolize the trinity” (Bandy, 151). After the grandmother is shot, the story goes on to describe the Grandmother's face. When one thinks someone of being dead, the picture is a blank face. But in this short story it is quoted: “Hiram and Bobby Lee returned from the woods and stood over the ditch, looking down at the grandmother who half sat and half lay in a puddle of blood with her legs crossed under her like a child's and her face smiling up at the cloudless sky” (O’Connor). The smiles symbolizes the Grandmother's acceptance. “The smile on the face of the grandmother marks a victory over the grotesque in which the sublime is passed through to the reception of grace in a gratuitous act of love” (Raigor, 189). The symbolism with...

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