AGood Man is hard to Find
Thestory of Flannery O’Connor “A Good Man is Hard to Find” focuseson events relating to Grandmother. Although there are othercharacters, the Grandmother emerges as the chief character in thestory because everything tends to revolve around her. In differentstories, an author can use symbols in order to stress a certain idea.The story of O’Connor has used different symbols in presentingdifferent ideas (Edler3). Thechief aim of this paper is to discuss how symbolism has been used inO’Connor’s story in this regard, different symbols used in thestory will be discussed.
In“A Good Man is Hard to Find”, O’Connor has used differentsymbols. One of the symbols that have been used by the author is theGrandmother’s hat. The hat that the grandmother wears with thechief reason of indicating that she is a lady depicts her imprudentmoral code. The moment the grandmother prepares for a car trip withher family, she dresses up in a manner that prepares her for anaccident (O’Connor 8). Putting up a hat would help in identifyingthat she was a lady in case of an accident. For the case of thegrandmother, the only concern is for her appearing as a lady this isa ridiculous idea which reveals the grandmother’s selfishness andinsubstantial moral conviction. The moment the grandmother becomesengaged in a car accident, the hat falls apart which indicates thatit has flimsy moral conviction just like the grandmother after thegrandmother is thrown from the car the brim of her hat falls off. Itis at this point that she drops off her broken hat, which isconsidered symbolic since her self-conception of a lady appearancedissolves.
Symbolismis also indicated through the Misfit’s glasses. In most cases, whenon stage, the Misfit is depicted as a remorseless and calm killer.The glasses that he wears are perceived to give him a scholarly look(O’Connor andFrederick78) this is appropriate to the assertion that the Misfit hasdeveloped a moral code, which is grounded on criminality and livinghis life by it. Though, he removes the glasses in order to clean themafter he shot the grandmother. The moment his collaborators returnfrom killing the other part of the family, the eyes of the Misfit aredescribed as looking defenseless without glasses. Seeming to renouncehis earlier viewpoint, he affirms that the grandmother could havebeen a good lady and there is no satisfaction in killing. This is anindication that the glasses are his protective covering. This isbecause he seems to have varied perspectives while having glasses andwhen without them.
Inthe story, the sky is also symbolic. The sky is a representation ofthe state of mind. This is indicated, when John and June were playinga game through selecting a cloud and then the others guessed thesuggested shape. There seems to be a disagreement between John andJune based on the cloud they chose from the sky (O’Connor 10).Therefore, the sky represents a state of mind. Besides, at the startof the family’s journey, the sky seems to be full of clouds. Incase the sky is perceived a container of thoughts, then the presenceof clouds would indicate blockage of thought, blindness, andmisinterpreted meaning. The clouds make the grandmother not have thereal meaning of goodness the clouds also lead to the grandmother’smisinterpretation of her personal feeling and reality. The presenceof clouds at the onset of the family’s journey is a symbol of thegrandmother’s misconceptions. The moment the family comes acrossthe Misfit, the sky becomes devoid of everything there seems to beno clouds, which results to opening of thoughts. However, there is nolight despite the absence of clouds that indicates that there is notruth. In this scene, the state of the sky indicates thegrandmother’s empty state of mind in time of trouble. During thistime, there is no evil or good thought in the grandmother’s mindthis seen as simply a state of emptiness. This is indicated in thephrase “Hiram and Bobby Lee returned from the woods and stood overthe ditch, looking down at the grandmother who half sat and half layin a puddle of blood with her legs crossed under her like a child’sand her face smiling up at the cloudless sky” (O’Connor 32). Inaddition, the moment the grandmother becomes shot, the sky seemsstill empty however, it seems to signify peace this time rather thanemptiness of thought. In fact, there are no clouds and it is notmentioned whether light is not present, but likely there is someshining at the top of trees in the woods.
Furthermore,symbolism in the story has been represented by the dirt road and theold house. The moment the family turned off the highway, which was anindication of the right path of life, onto the dirt road that was tolead to the old plantation house, it was symbolic that the familyfell onto the wicked path. The description of the dirt is that it ishilly with sudden curves and washes (O’Connor 18), which makestravelling on the road dangerous. Likewise, sinful path is desirableand tempting, but more dangerous and difficult to travel on than onecan assume. On the other hand, the old house is a symbol fortemptation. One may view the highway that the family drove on as the“true path” of life however, it may be not since when thegrandmother tells the children concerning the old plantation househaving secret treasure, the grandmother tempts them. Also, to thegrandmother, the old house is also a temptation.
Symbolismis also represented through the automobile. The automobile isindicated to carry the family in the story from place to place underthe control of the people inside. The automobile is in essence ashell, which represents the body of an individual that carries thesoul as well as the mind. In addition, the death of the grandmothermay also be symbolic. The symbolic of her death emanates from thenumber of times that she became shot by the Misfit. The grandmotherwas shot three times (O’Connor 32), which resembles the death andrising of Christ on the third day. In this case, the third shot madethe grandmother to have a physical death, but became alivespiritually. This is a faith that believers hold the moment theydie, their physical body is left on earth while their spirits go toheaven. Therefore, shooting of the grandmother three times may besymbolic as it may tend to indicate the emergence of another life.
Edler,Walter. [reviewOf] a Good Man Is Hard to Find and Other Stories.Gambier, Ohio, 1955. Print.
Kirszner,Laurie G, and Stephen R. Mandell. Literature:Reading, Reacting, Writing.Boston, Mass: Wadsworth Cengage Learning, 2013.Print.
O`Connor,Flannery, and Frederick Asals. AGood Man Is Hard to Find.New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 1993. Print.
O`Connor,Flannery. AGood Man Is Hard to Find and Other Stories.New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1977. Internet resource.Retrieved fromhttp://m.learning.hccs.edu/faculty/desmond.lewis/inrw-0420/a-good-man-is-hard-to-find/A%20Good%20Man%20Is%20Hard%20To%20Find.pdf