The story “A good man is hard to find” is a fascinating one presenting an unforgettable tale full of comic and is highly riveting where a family is confronted by sudden death. It is only the story in all of O’Connor’s works that she mixes violence, religion and comic. The story is about a cunny grandmother who lands her family in trouble when she makes her grandchildren believe that ‘there is a secret panel in the mysterious house she lived in long time ago’. Children plead with their father to change his mind and instead take them to the mysterious house before going to Florida for a vacation. Baily gives in to his children’s demand and starts moving towards the alleged house. During this trip, they first experience an accident before a Misfit and his gang show up and shoot all of them when grandmother claims to know him. Misfit kills them to hide his identity. In this paper, I will give a comprehensive analysis of the purpose of use of violence in this fiction.
Violence in the story “a good man is hard to find” has served several purposes. One, it shows that difficult situations can change people. It is during challenging times that people draw closer to God but forget once they overcome the challenges. However, the writer intends also to reveal that individuals should not wait for testing moments to change because it might be too late. Grandmother acts exclusively out of her self-interest in the entire story. She does not seem to care about religion or grace, what is right or wrong or even care about needs of the other people. She only acts on her insignificant instincts without much consideration or moral thought. Nevertheless, when she is subjected to violence and forced to confront her imminent death, she abruptly becomes more authentic. If she had behaved this way in her entire life, she would have saved herself and her family. At the end of the story, the Misfit proclaims, “She would have been a good woman . . . if it had been somebody there to shoot her every minute of her life.” (O’Connor, 153). Here author does not essentially believe that violence makes people better, but it is evident from the story that violence can change people.
Second, the purpose of the use of violence is to show that insecurity is rampant in some cities. In the social environment seen as the safe place, people live and experience alienation insecurity and marginalty (O’Connor, 146). When the family experiences an accident, no one comes to their rescue; rather a gang from the van arrives and exterminates the whole family in the woods. “It was a big black battered hearse-like automobile…There were three men in it.” These criminals do not care to show remorse or even about the status of an individual in the society. Although the grandmother provokes the misfit and his gang to kill the family when she says she recognizes the misfit, it is clear that crime incidences are rampant in this area. “You’re The Misfit!” she said. “I recognized you at once!” (O’Connor, 146).The author here intends to show how important it is for authorities to take steps toward mitigating crimes in urban areas because there is a misconception that insecurity is high in slum areas only.
Finally, through the violence, O’Connor aims to reveal the significance of death in Christianity. Without the doubt, death is the most ironic aspect of life because every human being will die one day. However, no one seems ready to die, and this is evident when the grandmother pleads with the misfit to spare her life. Grandmother tells the misfit that “! I know you would not shoot a woman! I know you come from nice people! Pray! Jesus, you ought not to shoot a woman. I’ll give you all the money I’ve got!” (O’Connor, 152). This is not different from the other human beings who naturally would desire to live forever. In this part of the story, the author intends to show that death is inevitable and all human beings would die at some point of their lives. Misfit and his men kill the father, mother, children and finally the grandmother. O’Connor being a Christian is urging people to be ready and live righteously because no one knows his/her time to die.
Connor, Flannery. A good man is hard to find. New Canadian Library, 2015.