i'm just a literary tease, my reputation's on its knees.

A Good Man? A Dead Grandma!

January 28, 2005

"A Good Man is Hard to Find" by Flannery O'Connor is definitely a weird one. Flannery O'Connor has written a lot of strange stuff. Over the summer I read the book of the same title and most of the stories left me with a distinct "Huh?!" feeling, like the one where the little boy falls in the river and drowns the end. (Can't remember the title "The River").

As I was re-reading the story, this time around, I notice something that I found kind of weird - a lot of details that I would consider insignicant (like Bailey's parrot print shirt, the violets pinned to Grandma's hat, the silver shoes worn by one of the assailants) that somehow add up to create a whole.

This story has a strange sense of poetic justice to it - Grandma spends the trip irritating the heck out of everyone, insists upon taking a dirt road to see a house she remembers from back in the day by using the annoying children as a weapon at her disposal and then she dies at the hands of a loosed criminal. Both of the children are horrid little beasts and one finds oneself almost relieved when they stop complaining. Both Bailey and his wife pointedly ignore grandmother and the children and they get theirs as well.

I'm not saying, of course, that I think all annoying children be executed (lord think of the benefits to overpopulation tho!) or that all old people are breathtakingly annoying (nor, I think, is Flannery O'Connor)... just that in this story, it seems a weird circular string of events. The story starts with Grandmother complaining about the dangers of Misfit and ends with Grandmother dying at the hands of Misfit.

Moira at 08:11 AM :: Comments (1) :: ::

Yes, the whole story is circular. When The Mistfit is mentioned again in the middle of the story, there's no question that the family is going to encounter him... but you're right, O'Connor works hard to ensure that we don't particularly like this family. Nowhere does she say, "The family was annoying" -- that would be "telling". Instead, she shows, with multiple subtle details.

Posted by: Dennis G. Jerz at January 28, 2005 10:27 AM
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