Intro to Literary Study (2005)

28 Jan 2005
O`Connor, ''A Good Man is Hard to Find''

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THE GRANDMOTHER didn't want to go to Florida. She wanted to visit some of her connections in east Tennessee and she was seizing at every chance to change Bailey's mind. Bailey was the son she lived with, her only boy. He was sitting on the edge of his chair at the table, bent over the orange sports section of the Journal. "Now look here, Bailey," she said, "see here, read this," and she stood with one hand on her thin hip and the other rattling the newspaper at his bald head. "Here this fellow that calls himself The Misfit is aloose from the Federal Pen and headed toward Florida and you read here what it says he did to these people. Just you read it. I wouldn't take my children in any direction with a criminal like that aloose in it. I couldn't answer to my conscience if I did."
Flannery O'Connor (1925-1964) was a woman writing in a man's literary world, and a Catholic writing in the Protestant South. She lived a sheltered life, but her fiction vividly depicts a world of sinners. In Mystery and Manners, she wrote, "while the South is hardly Christ-centered, it is most certainly Christ-haunted."

O'Connor is one of the key figures in the Southern Gothic literary mode, which uses key elements of Gothic literary style (brooding, obsessive villains; passionate emotions expressed in decayed or abandoned ancestral homes; a prelude to the horror genre), but places them in a Southern American setting. In so doing, O'Connor examines American attitudes about class, violence, religion, and family relationships.

The Heath Online Instructor's Guide offers an good introduction to Flannery O'Connor, as well as some useful study questions for "A Good Man...".

See also the collection of links at Flannery O'Connor Research.

Discussion prompts:

* At what point(s) in the story were you surprised by the turn of events?
* How does O'Connor seem to want us to feel about her characters? Identify descriptive passages or words that affected your response to the major chraracters.
* Does the story have a moral?

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Posted by: ChrisU at January 27, 2005 10:56 PM

Red Sammy may be the Devil himself. It is he who says "A good man is hard to find."

If it is true that FEW will enter God's Kingdom, the Devil Himself would know who the really 'good' people were and would work hard to change them into evil people.

Hope this makes sense.

Posted by: PR at December 4, 2005 9:47 PM

what is the universal meaning of this story??can anyone help me wit this?

Posted by: victoria at July 3, 2007 3:52 PM

Victoria, if you ask your teacher, he or she will probably tell you that the important thing is not coming up with the single "correct" answer that literature teachers have agreed upon in advance, but rather developing the ability to look closely at a complex issue, take a stand, and use evidence from the story to support your position.

There is no single "correct" answer to that question, just as there is no single "correct" way to bake a cake or design a T-shirt. There are such things as ugly T-shirts and bad-tasting cakes, and so there are plenty of unsupportable answers to that question.

Posted by: Dennis G. Jerz at July 3, 2007 10:45 PM
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