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Submitted By Jasmineb0925
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Pages 4
Jasmine Buisson
Professor S. Young
Eng 250
Case Book Study

“A Good Man Is Hard to Find” is one of O’Connor’s best short stories, it makes an excellent illustration of her ability to combine ugly humor with serious thematic material. The story opens as a family prepares to go on vacation in Florida. The Grandmother son, Bailey, intends to take his family from Georgia to Florida for a summer vacation, but his mother, wants him to drive to Tennessee. She argues that his children, June Star and John Wesley, have never been to Tennessee and shows him a news article about an escaped murderer called The Misfit last seen heading to Florida. The next day, Bailey ignores his mother insight, and takes his family to Florida anyway. The grandmother wakes up early to hide her cat, Pitty Sing, in a basket on the floor in the back of the car. When it’s time to go, Bailey finds her sitting in the car, dressed in her best clothes and a flamboyant hat. The Grandmother says that if she should die in an accident along the road, she wants people to see her corpse and know she was sophisticated and "a lady." The Grandmother talks continuously during the trip, trying to engage her two grandchildren in games and telling them jokes and a story, all of which they ignore with disdain. She recalls her youth in the Old South. She reminisces about how much better everything was in her time, when children were respectful and people "did right then." When the family stops at an old diner for lunch, she talks to the owner, Red Sammy, about The Misfit. He and the grandmother agree that things were much better in the past, that the world at present is worsen, and she agrees with Sammy's remark that "a good man is hard to find." After the family returns to the road, the grandmother begins telling the children a story about a mysterious house nearby with secret passages, a house she remembers from her childhood. This catches the children's attention and they want to visit the house, so they harass their father until he reluctantly agrees to let them take a side trip. As he drives, the grandmother suddenly realizes that the house she was thinking of was actually in Tennessee, not Georgia. That shocking realization makes her unwillingly kick her feet, which awkwardly frightens the cat, causing it to spring from its hidden basket, onto Bailey's neck. Bailey loses control of the car and flips it over to end up in a ditch below the road. The family waits for help. When she notices a car coming down the road, the grandmother flags it down until it stops. Three men come out and begin to talk to her. The grandmother undoubtly, recognizes the leader, it’s The Misfit. The Misfit has his two men take Bailey and his son into the woods, claiming that "the boys want to ask you something." After they leave, the grandmother speaks to The Misfit who says he's been falsely imprisoned for killing his father. The Misfit mentions talking to a psychiatrist while in prison about why he did not remember what crime he had committed. The men shoot Bailey and his son in the forest, then come back to take the children's mother, the baby, and June Star for the same purpose. The grandmother begins pleading for her own life. When The Misfit talks to her about Jesus, he expresses his doubts about it, and the dead. As he speaks, the Misfit becomes agitated and angry. He snarls into the grandmother's face and claims that life has "no pleasure but meanness". In her growing confusion, she thinks that The Misfit is going to cry, so she reaches out and touches his shoulder tenderly, saying "You’re one of my own children!" At that, he kills her with three shots.When they finish murdering the family, The Misfit takes a moment to clean his glasses, saying that the grandmother would have been a good woman if "it had been somebody there to shoot her every minute of her life." The story ends with the Misfit punishing one of his sidekicks for claiming that the family's murder was good fun. The Misfit tells him, that "it's no real pleasure in life."

Work Cited
Robert Brinkmeyer, The Art and Vision of Flannery O'Connor (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1989).

Jean W. Cash, Flannery O'Connor: A Life (Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 2002).

Sally Fitzgerald, ed., The Habit of Being: Letters of Flannery O'Connor (New York: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 1979).

Brad Gooch, Flannery: A Life of Flannery O'Connor (New York: Little, Brown and Company, 2009).

Sarah Gordon, Flannery O'Connor: The Obedient Imagination (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 2000).

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