Literary Analysis Essay on "Good Country People" vs "A Good Man Is Hard To Find"

Published: 2021-08-11
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Wesleyan University
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The two short stories A Good Man is Hard to Find and Good Country People are both authored by Flannery OConnor in her brief period as a writer. People who have had the chance to read the two short stories have concluded that the stories are efficiently expressed, well sequenced and are based in The South as well as envisioning the Roman Catholic faith. The setting of these short stories takes place in The South, and the author delves deep into the tension between the ancient and modern south. The two short stories have in common the themes, plot development as well as characterization (Friedman and Beverly).

In both stories, OConnor explores the difference between the old south and the new south. In A Good Man is Hard to Find, she contrasts the mode of clothing between the childrens mother to that of their grandmother. The clothes are used to represent the different ages of the two individuals. The mother still had on slacks and still had her head tied up in a green kerchief, but the grandmother had on navy blue straw sailor hat with a bunch of white dots in print (OConnor) the grandmother represents the old south while the mother to the children represents the new south. In the old south, it was hard to spot a lady in slacks and her hair tied up, and such an individual was considered unladylike. In the second book Good Country People the same contrast appears. OConner uses the two ladies, Mrs Hopewell and Mrs Freeman, to symbolise the old south. Their beliefs and values are old-fashioned, and the way in which they carry themselves is traditional. Mrs Freemnans two daughters embody the new south and Mrs Hopewell describes the two girls as two of the finest girls she knew (OConnor).

Pride is a theme similar to the two books by Flannery. In the stories are characters who view themselves as more superior than other characters as they make negative conclusions about them. In A Good Man is Hard to Find, the grandmother believes that she is more superior to all other characters (Bleikasten). Her pride is portrayed when she is conversing with The Misfit about Jesus and forgiveness. In Good Country People, Hulga, initially Joy, envisions herself as more intelligent as compared to Manley Pointer. In spite of the belief that they are more superior than the rest of the cast, the story has an unpleasant outcome on them. As the story comes to a close, the characters who viewed themselves as more superior than the others find themselves begging for help from the ones they had demeaned. Hulga is seen pleading for her wooden leg from Manley Pointer. The grandmother also begs the The Misfit not to kill his family (Prown).

Men have over the years, used religious disinformation to control what women wear, what education they get and dominate over them. They seek to stop the woman from realising her full potential. Each of the stories by Flannery O'Connor features the downfall of both women which is orchestrated by men (Meyer). They are left damaged and destroyed both physically and mentally. In A Good Man is Hard to Find, The Misfit leaves the grandmother for death after having shot her in the chest. In Good Country People, the Bible salesman leaves Hulga Hopewell in an abandoned barn all alone with her wooden leg and her spectacles stolen. Eventually, a man surrounded by religious symbolism gives salvation to both Hulga and the grandmother away from their unfulfilling lives.

In both books, both Manley pointer and The Misfit are used to display evil, but they differ to some extent. The character Manley Pointer is much more wholly permeated with evil than The Misfit. Manley is cold to any religious discussion or sentiments, and he is less humanly; he deliberately engineers a situation where he cold-bloodedly disgraces Hulga and exhibits his superiority and control over her. He shows his advantage by openly revealing how much of an atheist he is. He also tells how much hard he is in his approach to life he shows his control by taking Hulgas fake leg and leaving her stranded in the barn all alone. He also reveals his sheer maliciousness when he makes away with her leg because he does not need a fake leg; he only needs to use it for a trophy.

On the other hand, the misfit is struggling with religious issues. He is not what we can call an atheist and is often troubled at the thought that the story of Jesus could be true. The Misfit does not in any way engineer the fate that befalls the grandmother and her family. It is they that stumble on The Misfit's path hence he feels he is left with no choice than to kill them. He is left in regret for having killed them or in the larger extent having his gang kill the grandmother and his family. Although for a short while, the misfit feels a genuine connection with the grandmother revealing his human nature as compared to Manly Pointer. In Good Country People, Manly Pointer exits the stage with a feeling of having triumphed over Hulga while in A Good Man is Hard to Find, The Misfit, in a way feels overpowered by the granny at the end of the short story. This is ironical.

In conclusion, the two short stories by Flannery O'Connor both set in the south during the Civil Right Movement are in so many ways similar than different. This technique allows her to display her writing prowess. She skillfully develops the setting, themes, symbols and characters in the short stories hence leaving the reader to want to read more.

Work Cited

OConnor, Flannery. "Good Country People:[Selections from the short story]." Academic Medicine 91.3 (2016): 352.

O'Connor, Flannery. A good man is hard to find. New Canadian Library, 2015.Friedman, Melvin J., and Beverly Lyon Clark. Critical Essays on Flannery O'Connor. GK Hall, 1985.

Bleikasten, Andre. "The Heresy of Flannery OConnor." Critical Essays on Flannery OConnor 149 (1985).Prown, Katherine Hemple. "Flannery O'Connor: An Annotated Reference Guide to Criticism." The Mississippi Quarterly 56.3 (2003): 474-479.

Meyer, Michael. "The Bedford Introduction to Literature: Reading, Thinking." Writing (1999).

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