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Irony In A Good Man Is Hard To Find

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She Would Have Been a Good Woman
Flannery O'Connor's story "A Good Man is Hard to Find" uses irony to depict the concept of good as undefinable. This shows in the line, " "In my time," said the grandmother, folding her thin veiled fingers, "children were more respectful of their native states and their parents and everything else. People did right then. Oh look at the cute little pickaninny!" she said, and pointed to a Negro child standing in the door of a shack." " O'Connor grew up in Georgia, surrounded by Southern Protestants and drew inspiration from the distinct region, thus setting the story in Georgia. (Hayes 2) She grew up in a region that was heavily concerned with social place, during the time the "New South" was coming unraveled
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Growing up in a society that massively cared about social status and class, she portrays her character as vain. O'Connor shows the grandmother's concern with class when she says, "Her collar 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 lady."(612) Even when thinking of her own death, she is still concerned of what people will think of her as a lady. O'Connor's background helps the reader further understand the connection between the south and the concern about society and class. O'Connor grew up in the "New South" during the time when many Southerner's were expecting a change, but the New South "in fact materialized as the poor, peripheral stepchild in an increasingly prosperous, powerful nation."(3)Hayes puts it best when he states, "This society that spoke of expansive change yet saw little of it, that chased modern prosperity yet came to experience absentee control, put a very heavy emphasis on social place, especially in matters of race and class."(Hayes 4). O'Connor's peers participated in "class condescension"(Hayes 5) but, O'Connor made poor whites, such as the Misfit, central to her writing and explored their struggles and introspective thoughts.(Hayes 5) The …show more content…
You're one of my own children!" She is only able to think of the Misfit as her equal in the time of a crisis. O'Connor's upbringing in the South made her aware of the different types of Protestant religious crowds prominent there. One crowd might be called the "uptown religion." (Hayes 10) Hayes states that, "In O’Connor’s critical judgment, uptown religion became too easily a benediction on the southern status quo, its potential Christian injunctions muted by its commanding cultural dominance" (Hayes 10) The grandmother is a portrayal of an uptown religious individual, believing she is a respectable decent lady and anyone that is not like her, must be bad. It is only later, when her life is in danger, that she feels equal to the Misfit. O'Connor wrote that characters like this, "...Had, unknowingly, merely a “superficial” relation to Christianity, one that needed moments of unsettling crisis or violence to become more profound" (Hayes 11)
Learning more about Flannery O'Connor's upbringing helps readers understand the importance of the portrayal of characters like the Grandma, the southern setting, and the conflict of narcissism that the grandma deals with. The reader can more clearly understand the character's actions and attitudes knowing that O'Connor grew up surrounded by Southern Protestant's

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