A Good Man Is Hard To Find- O’ Conner The short story A Good Man is Hard to Find by Flannery O’Connor could be viewed as a comic strip about massacre and martyrdom. What stops it from becoming a solemn story is its intensity, ambition, and unfamiliarity. O’Connor blends the line between humor and terror as she uses a reasonable use of the unreasonable. She introduces her audience to the horror of self-love both with Hulga in Good Country People and with the grandmother in A Good Man is Hard to Find. The grandmother is thought of by the community as a good person and appears to be so on the surface, but she is also mean and narcissistic.
She forces her family to abide by her wishes; she sees them as an extension of herself; and she seizes every opportunity to get what she wants. By manipulating her grandchildren, she gets her son to go back to the house with the secret panel, causing them to meet The Misfit, and ultimately sealing the entire family’s death. O’Connor makes the trite seem sweet, the humdrum seem tragic, and the ridiculous seem righteous. The reader can no longer use their textbook ways of interpreting fiction and human behavior because O’Connor is constantly throwing our assumptions back at us. Throughout A Good Man is Hard to Find O’Connor reinforces the horror of self-love through her images.
She contrasts the two houses, The Tower: the restaurant owned by Red Sammy, and the plantation house. The restaurant is a broken-down place, a long dark room with a tiny place to dance. At one time Red Sammy found pleasure from the restaurant but now he is afraid to leave the door unlatched. He has given in to the meanness of the world. In contrast to the horrible Tower is the grandmother’s peaceful memory of the plantation house that is filled with wonderful treasures.
However, the family never reaches this house because this house does not even exist on the dirt road or even in the same state. Because of the grandmother’s pride she cannot admit that she has made a mistake. ‘It’s not much farther,’ the grandmother said and just as she said it, a horrible thought came to her. The thought was so embarrassing that she turned red in the face and her eyes dilated and her feet jumped up… The grandmother’s pride and self-centered wish to see the house causes the Misfit to discover and murder the family. Both houses are, in effect, ruins of the spirit.
It is a comic view of the family that the reader receives in the first half of the story. The comedy is in the way O’Connor has very nonchalantly reported the characters outlandish actions and appearances. O’Connor has made this even more funny by not appearing to tell it in a funny way. The grandmother is the funniest and most colorful of the characters in the story; she is pushy, annoying, and at times an endearing grandmother. O’Connor makes the grandmother a target for her satire right from the beginning by exposing her absurd wardrobe and old-fashioned mannerisms.
..The grandmother had on a navy blue straw sailor hat with a bunch of white violets on the brim and a navy blue dress with a small white dot in the print. Her collars and cuffs were white organdy trimmed with lace and at her neckline she had pinned a purple spray of cloth violets containing a sachet. In case of an accident, anyone seeing her dead on the highway would know at once that she was a lady. The last line becomes ironically funny because ultimately this is where the grandmother ends up- in a ditch dead. As a reader, one must then question the seriousness of the author towards her characters and should the reader have a sympathetic view towards these characters when they are being presented to an audience as comical figures and an elaborate joke. The first words uttered in the first pages of A Good Man is Hard to Find are directed to the reader almost as much as they are directed to Bailey: Now look here, ..see here, read this.
The reader themselves are rustling the pages of the story almost simultaneously as the grandmother is shaking the newspaper at Bailey. Cleverly, O’Connor has made her reader self-conscious of her printed medium and undoubtedly made the reader aware of the similarities between them and her characters. Once the reader can understand the satirical overtone of the story, the absurdities become less important. For example, the writing is monotone but has a dramatic quality to it which O’Connor later uses to describe the family massacre. A man that views murder as a sport will kill the grandmothers family. He can look at a pile of bodies as nonchalantly as Bailey skimming over the weather report.
The irony is absurd. O’Connor is re-enforcing her stylistic approach to the literature by having the children read comic books in the beginning of the short story, all the way through their fateful journey. This story, in many ways, is a verbal comic strip. It mimics that of the frames of a comic strip with small self-contained scenes. There are no smooth transitions in the narrative but rather abrupt juxtapositions.
One could almost imagine a bubble over the characters head saying We’ve had an ACCIDENT!. Even the names of the characters allude to comic book figures: June Star and Red Sammy. The story could even be said to read like that of a comic book and imitate its layout. One example is the sign advertising Red Sammy’s Restaurant. TRY RED SAMMY’S FAMOUS BARBECUE. NONE LIKE FAMOUS RED SAMMY’S! RED SAM! THE FAT BOY WITH THE HAPPY LAUGH. A VETERAN! RED SAMMY’S YOUR MAN!.
But then the narrative continues in a comic book like fashion describing the odd and bizarre scene as the family pulls up to the Tower. Red Sammy was lying on the bare ground outside The Tower with his head under a truck while a gray monkey about a foot high, chained to a small chinaberry tree, chattered nearby,. O’Connor’s satirical irony is apparent in the scene with the little Negro child. While the grandmother tries to beautify this poor pant-less black child living in a shack, O’Connor does not allow the reader to see the beautiful picture that the grandmother wants to paint. ..’Oh look at the cute little pickaninny!’ she said pointing to a Negro child standing in the door of a shack. ‘Wouldn’t that make a picture, now?’ she asked and they all turned and looked at the little Negro out of …