“A Good Man is Hard to Find” Essay
The "Southern Gothic"
Growing up during the Depression in the South, Flannery O’Connor was fascinated with many of the antiquated social customs of Southern lifestyles and, as well, had a rather continuing desire to understand her Catholic faith. Even her early writing as a teenager seemed to revolve around these two themes. “A Good Man is Hard to Find” is one of her later writings, but still she chose the same themes and settings – a type of literature that came to be known as “Southern Gothic.”
Grandmother is the obvious dominant figure in this short story – a woman whose moral code revolves around being a “lady” and not much else, though she professes to be a strong Christian. Even her grandchildren see through her façade, but, still, she continues the façade as she attempts to control the lives her son, daughter-in-law and two grandchildren. Even the opening of the story depicts her attempting to control where the family goes on vacation. Her worry, she states, is that there is a deranged killer on the loose in Georgia and they should not be driving through the state to their destination, Florida.
Ultimately, it is grandmother’s error that causes a car accident and the family’s encounter with and death at the hands of the Misfit and his two cohorts. And it is grandmother who, in her last moments before death, seems to come to the realization that her entire life has been wrong and, in so doing, is perhaps granted salvation through God’s grace.
The Short Story Essay
An essay on a short story is very much like an essay written on a novel. In fact the only difference is the amount of time it takes to read the work, and the fact that in a short story, there is usually only one theme, and a plot that must be completed in a much shorter number of words. An essay on “A Good Man is Hard to Find,” then, will cover topics such as character analysis, theme, tone, etc.
Topics for “A Good Man is Hard to Find” Essay
There are a number of great essay topics in this short story, that relate to analysis and theme. Here is a list from which you might find one of interest:
Á Good Man is Hard to Find” Analysis Essay Topics
- Discuss the many times that Grandmother uses the term “good man.” What ultimately is her definition of a “good man?”
- What are the moral codes of Grandmother and the Misfit? Whose code is stronger? Why?
- What is Southern Gothic literature? How does short story fit that definition?
- Write an analysis of Grandmother’s character showing actual statements and behaviors throughout the story?
- How do the statements of the Misfit about being punished for a crime he cannot remember relate to the Christian concept of original sin?
As you can see, “A Good Man is Hard to Find” Analysis covers a wide range of potential topics related to both characters and concepts.
“A Good Man is Hard to Find Essay Thesis” will be easy to write, if you should select a topic that relates to the two themes of the work:
- Discuss the concept of what makes a “good person.” Are there any “good people” in this story?
- Salvation/Grace: Can someone like the Misfit be the recipient of God’s grace according to Christian belief? How is this possible?
Symbolism in “A Good Man is Hard to Find” is pretty simple. The biggest symbol is Grandmother’s hat, which is of course the symbol of her moral code. A great essay topic on the hat might be to discuss how the hat comes to change at the end of the story, and what those changes mean within Grandmother?
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