Good Man is Hard to Find

Flannery O’Connor
“A Good Man Is Hard To Find”

A Southern American novelist and short story writer, Miss O’ Connor’s career spanned the 1950s and early ‘60s, a time when the South was dominated by Protestant Christians. O’Connor was born and raised Catholic. She was a fundamentalist and a Christian moralist whose powerful apocalyptic fiction is focused in the South. Flannery O’Connor was born March 25, 1925, in Savannah, Georgia. O’ Connor grew up on a farm with her parents Regina and Edward O’ Connor. At the age of five, she taught a chicken to walk backwards. O’Connor attended Georgia State College for women, now Georgia College, in Milledgeville, majoring in sociology. She had showed a gift for satirical writing, as well as cartooning since she was a child. By the end of her undergraduate education, O’Connor knew that writing was her true passion. She spent two years at the prestigious School for Writers at the State University of Iowa on scholarship, receiving a master’s degree of fine arts in 1947 (Candee 318). In 1950, she had a near fatal attack of systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), a chronic inflammatory connective tissue disorder. that causes periods of joint pain and fatigue, and can attack the hearts, lungs, and kidneys. Her father died of the disease when she was fifteen (Blythe 49). O’Connor would have to walk with crutches for the rest of her life. By her death at the age of 39, Flannery O’Connor won a prominent place in modern American literature. She was an anomaly among post-World War II writers, a Roman Catholic from the Bible–Belt South, whose stated purpose was to reveal the mystery of God’s grace in everyday life. Aware that few readers shared her faith, O’Connor chose to depict salvation through shocking, often violent action upon characters who were spiritually or physically grotesque (Ryiley 334).
Flannery O’Connor’s significance as a writer is her original use of religion. Like no other short story writer, she dramatizes religious themes in her fiction stories. She is established as one of the most gifted and original fiction writers of the 20th century. “Everything That Rise must converge,” and “ Revelation” won first prize in the O. Henry awards for short stories. “The Life You Save May Be Your Own” and A “Circle in the Fire” won second prize in the O. Henry awards. “The Complete Stories of Flannery O’Connor” won the National Book Award in 1971 (Bloom 145-146).
O’ Connor’s work is inspired by the sense of the mystery of human nature. She tends to use good vs. evil and death to shock and startle her readers into an awareness of the theological truth of faith, the fall, the redemption, and the judgment (Riley 367). Some critics describe her writing as harsh and negative while people in the religious community wanted a happier communication of the faith. O’Connor described her characters as “poor afflicted in both mind and body, with little or at best a distorted sense of spiritual purpose”(Harris & Fitzerald 336). O’Connor claims she understood the universe created by God as good and evil. In a letter to a friend, she complained about a review that called her short story collection, A Good Man is hard To Find, brutal and sarcastic. “The stories are hard,” she wrote. “But they are hard because there is nothing harder or less sentimental than Christian realism”(qtd. In Harris & Fitzerald 336). O’Connor likes to focus on the rough, often ugly memories of the place she knew best, the rural South. She saw her world as sacrament, brushed with grace, twisted, beaten, but still straining toward her belief in God. The settings of her stories and novels are either Georgia or Tennessee, often backwoods or rural areas. She gives her characters a southern accent because this is the area she knows best. O’ Connor uses common symbols, such as sunsets that resemble blood drenched Eucharistic host, preening peacocks that represent Christ’s transfiguration, and the trees themselves writhe in spiritual agony (Bloom 49). Some critic’s say that she is trying to convert her readers, whom she assumes are non-believers.
The story “A Good Man is Hard To Find” begins with a family planing to take a vacation to