The Story of a Family on their Way to Florida for a Vacation in Flannery O’Connor’s a Good Man is Hard to Find

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Updated: Aug 18, 2023
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“A Good Man is Hard to Find” by Flannery O’Connor tells the story of a family on their way to Florida for a vacation. On the road, they are convinced to visit a house where there is supposedly a “secret panel” (9) that hides all of the family’s silver. The grandmther in the story, who suggests seeing the house, realises at the last second that they are in the wrong state. Suddenly, disaster strikes when the family cat escapes from the crate and attacks Bailey, the driver, causing them to have an accident and veer off the road.

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In their attempt to get help, they hail down a driver of a “big black battered hearse-like automobile” (13). This driver turns out to be a felon, “The Misfit,” whom the grandmother had previously mentioned as heading towards Florida on page one. The author uses the first paragraph to foreshadow the end of the story and reveals the grandmother’s personality. When the grandmother mentions “The Misfit”, O’Connor subtly plants the idea of his subsequent appearance in readers’ minds. Although this idea lies dormant for most of the story, the arrival of the suspicious characters, who turn out to be The Misfit and his gang, reawakens it. This also shows the grandmother’s passive-aggressive yet caring personality, which is evident in her decision to see the house and in her conversation with The Misfit. This paragraph is crucial in explaining the factors that contribute to the plot. An example of her passive-aggressive nature is, “I couldn’t answer to my conscience if I did.” This refers to her reluctance to let her grandchildren go where The Misfit might be. The family’s averageness only heightens the story’s realism, terror, and relatability. The family argues among themselves, goes on road trips, eats barbeque food, and generally avoids anything extravagant or extraordinary. I believe that this is intentional to make the story more impactful for the reader, as it is more relatable. The children read and “exchange […] comic books” (4) during their journey, making it easier for the average reader to empathise with the family.

The two distinct parts of the story are woven together to bring about a nearly M. Night Shyamalan-esque twist. He foreshadows the event so that it doesn’t come unexpectedly. All the elements of his story converge at one point, creating a complete plot with no gaps. I believe the final line is included to humanize The Misfit. He does not kill for enjoyment but for survival. While this doesn’t justify his actions, the line asserts that we understand that there are multiple aspects to not just this story, but all stories. Often in fiction, the villain is completely dehumanized, and the story is not told from their perspective. O’Connor does an impressive job of acknowledging and highlighting The Misfit’s viewpoint and narrating his story.

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The Story of a Family on Their Way to Florida for a Vacation in Flannery O'Connor's A Good Man is Hard to Find. (2022, Nov 22). Retrieved from