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A Critique of the Short Story “Good Man Is Hard to Find”

Good Man Is Hard to Find

Flannery O’Connor is an eminent writer of the 20th century who is famous for his most prominent work “Good Man Is Hard to Find.” This story is his magnum opus not in terms of size but in terms of value. The author has summarized the feelings of the modern society, cultural values, and societal morals which shifted the world to the one we live in.

The story opens with the grandmother who is trying to persuade her son and his wife into changing the holiday destination. The family presumed to go on a vacation to Florida with their children whereas the lady insists on going to Tennessee. What is more, the grandma supports this idea by drawing the family’s attention to the article about the escapee who is heading to Florida. Altering the destination is the sign of moral decadence as the right path is left for the sake of looking for fake treasures. From the very beginning of the story, it becomes obvious that the story will not turn out well and the family will suffer. For making this story more plausible and colorful, O’Connor uses characterization and symbolism. These techniques help him to illustrate the rotten society with a decline in morals.

The chief character of the story is the grandma who is depicted as a self-centered person who can easily manipulate her family into taking her side. She is always pontificating and is loath to accept someone other’s point of view. Her short-sighted attitude becomes particularly noticeable when she refuses an idea of heading to Florida and convinces the family of going to her old house she used to live in when she was young.

The implement of characterization in the story depicts the lack of respect for the older generation and poor discipline in the nowadays world. Furthermore, it comes to author’s aid while expressing the differences between young and old generations. The latter one is represented by the leading character – the grandma. Making a notable example, this lady chooses a dress and a hat with flowers on it to make sure everyone will understand that she is a female in case of an accident. Turning back to the differences between the generations, the writer says that in the past there were good morals and under present-day conditions, they have almost vanished. Nonetheless, the children must respect their ancestors and the society must encourage such attitude.

The bereavement and faith are presented in the story with the help of symbolism. Deviating from the destination as the refusal to follow the good road is perceived as moving away from the kingdom of God. As the story unfolds, the family reaches a town called “Toomsboro” which here is a symbol of death. The grandmother gets sidetracked in the town which means the destruction of her faith in Jesus. What is more, the clouds in the sky mean this faith and as the story progresses, the sky clears.

Summing up, the story depicts the change in the world from good to evil depicting the vices of modern society. Only with the help of God can we follow good roads.

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