Foreshadowing and Characterization in "A Good Man Is Hard to Find"

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In "A Good Man is Hard to Find," O'Connor uses foreshadowing many times to clue the reader in on future events.  One such passage reads as follows: "'You can’t win,' and he [Red Sammy, a diner owner] wiped his sweating red face off with gray handkerchief. 'Two fellers come in here last week,' Red Sammy said, 'driving a Chrysler.  It was a old beat-up car but it was a good one and these boys looked all right to me.  Said they worked at the mill and you know I let them fellers charge the gas they bought? Now why did I do that?' 'Because you're a good man!' the grandmother said at once.  'Yes'm, I suppose so," Red Sam said as if he were struck with this answer" (7-8).  This foreshadows the event of the misfit arriving in a car that is described similarly to the one that is driven by the two men who stole gas from Red Sammy.  The first time I read this story last year, I thought that the foreshadowing made everything so obvious in the plot.  The Misfit himself is even mentioned by name at the beginning of the story.  I did not think that Flannery O'Connor's use of foreshadowing was effective, unless she deliberately wanted the reader to know what was going to happen.  Then I considered this thought.  Perhaps she did want the reader to know what was going to happen, or better yet, did not care if the reader knew or not because that was unimportant to the story. 

 

Instead, I think the whole point of her story was the idea of what "a good man" really was.  I found it odd that the only people in the story who were called "good men" were people like Red Sammy and the Misfit.  Red Sammy was not a bad man, but I would not classify him a good man either.  The Misfit was a murderer and a criminal, but the grandmother called him a good man at the end of the story.  I would have labeled her son a good man sooner than either of these men, especially because her son obviously cared for both the grandmother and his immediate family.  Perhaps O'Connor is trying to say that the least likely people may really be "good" people if we get to know them and their story.  This idea is often difficult for people, especially in light of stereotypical thought (the Misfit is bad because he is a criminal, Red Sammy is not good because he is crude and unsightly), making "a good man" truly "hard to find." 

 

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1 Comments

Richelle Dodaro said:

I really like Erika's comment because it goes into deep critical thought on the idea of a good man. She expressed who she thought was a good man, but also analyzed the title.

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