When reading a short story, often readers look for certain things that make the story insightful and unique. In the short story “A Good Man is Hard to Find” by Flannery O’Connor, the author really starts off by giving the reader an insight between good versus evil. It begins with what a reader would describe as a dysfunctional family taking a road trip that goes terribly awry. In this short story “A Good Man is Hard to Find” you have two opposite, but very similar types of characters, The Grandmother and The Misfit. While reading “A Good Man is Hard to Find” one may begin to analyze Flannery O’Connor’s writing style and notice particularly the characterization that is used by describing how the grandmother and the misfit are both selfish and individualist characters, and how the misfit’s dialogue contrasts with the grandmother’s standard speech.
The Grandmother is identified by O’Connor as the main character. Not so much by name, but only by role. Flannery O’Connor names all the other characters in the story except the Misfit and the Grandmother. The Grandmother’s character imparts early in the story as being self-involved and deeply connected with her southern roots. Her behavior was as if she were a selfish individual, putting her needs before her families. She is very manipulating, getting her family to suit her own purposes, unmerciful and relentless. The Grandmother lies to her son Bailey about her cat, Pitty Sing, and smuggles her into the car underneath the, “Big black valise that looked like the head of a hippopotamus” (Norton 471) even though her son has forbiddingly expressed arriving at a motel room with a cat. Which in the end, the cat causes the accident, which causes them to meet death by encountering the misfit.
Very little differs from the character of the misfit and the character of the grandmother in this short story. Both are very self-reliant and both characters will manipulate anyone to get what they need. As the grandmother would describe it, the misfit seems like a character that would unlikely have any morals, but he seems to have a deep mind set. His morals may not seem like the most upstanding of the average citizen, but he sticks by them. Flannery O’Connor portrays the misfit’s character as being very aware of himself, telling the grandmother, “Nome, I ain’t a good man, but I ain’t the worst in the world either” (Norton 478). The Misfit seems to rely on his own moral codes, however twisted they may seem, to guide him through his life. The author really gives the reader a view of just how the misfit stands by his morals when his friend, Bobby Lee suggests that it must have been some fun shooting the grandmother. The misfit states, “Shut up, It’s no real pleasure in life” (Norton 481)
Aside from the characterization used in the short story “A Good Man is Hard to Find” Flannery O’Connor focus on dialogue. The dialogue delivered by the grandmother was simple and to the point because, she wants the reader to focus more on the dialogue rather than the details of the characters. The diction of the grandmother’s words is rather uncanny but inflammatory. Flannery O’Connor wrote in such ways because, it was a commonality in the south during the 1930’s and 1940’s when racism was at its highest. For example, the grandmother says, “Oh look at the cute little pickaninny!” she said and pointed to a Negro child standing in the door of a shack (Norton 472). The word “pickaninny” is a very offensive word to an African American child. Flannery O’Connor used a very colorful diction because, of her southern roots. A reader may notice that the author gives the misfit a down-home, lower class southern accent compared to the simple, uncanny dialogue the grandmother has. For example, in some of the misfit’s statements, he uses words like, “Yes’m, Jesus thown everything off balance.” (Norton 480) and “I pre-chate that lady,” (Norton 478).
Flannery O’Connor’s short story “A Good Man is Hard to Find”, really exceeds the literary elements of characterization and the strong use of southern dialogue. The author really gives the reader an insight on how good and evil co-exist throughout the story by using the characters of the grandmother and the misfit. What starts out as a dysfuntional family taking an innocent family road trip, turns into a murderous disaster due to the selfish acts of the grandmother. The misfit shows just how relentless he is and how he will not back down from his own beliefs. The author uses a very colorful dialogue to introduce to the reader the deep southern accent that was used during those times. One might say that in “A Good Man is Hard to Find” the author really gives a different perspective on good versus evil.