A Good Man is Hard to Find: Symbolism of Redemption

About this sample

About this sample


Words: 1005 |

Pages: 2|

6 min read

Published: Aug 4, 2023

Words: 1005|Pages: 2|6 min read

Published: Aug 4, 2023

Table of contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Characters in A Good Man Is Hard to Find
  3. Conclusion
  4. Works Cited


“Redemption: [mass noun] The action of saving or being saved from sin, error, or evil” (Lexico Dictionaries). Redemption is an important concept in Christianity in which a sinful person atones for their wrongs. “A Good Man Is Hard to Find” by Flannery O’Connor is a short story about the religious redemption of a Christian grandma, who initially, doesn’t meet the requirements for being either a good grandma or good Christian. Like any archetypal religious redemption story, this short story starts with a morally bad character who by the end of the story becomes changed and redeemed. A Good Man Is Hard to Find uses symbolism to demonstrate the concept of redemption in the story. To redeem herself, however, the grandma must atone or make reparations for her wrongs. Following that structure, the grandma of this short story is a perfect example of a character that has been religiously redeemed because she starts off as a vain and self centered character; who after facing a trying situation, redeems herself when she meets a serial killer, “The Misfit”; then comes to an epiphany about the world and its people that changes her whole world outlook.

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Characters in A Good Man Is Hard to Find

For “A Good Man Is Hard to Find” to be a successful religious redemption story, there would need to be a character who needs redemption; in this short stories’ case, a conceited and self-centered character. Throughout the entirety of the short story, up to the very end, the grandma is shown to be self-centered, vain, and racist through her interactions with her family, her preparations for their road trip, and how she reacts to people of differing race and social class. Her vanity is on display when she decides to dress so ladylike that “in case of an accident, anyone seeing her dead on the highway would know at once that she was a lady”. In addition, the grandma’s self centeredness is on show when she tries to derail the family’s trip to Florida so she can “visit some of her connections” in Tennessee. Her views on race and class are revealed to be demeaning and derogatory when she describes a black child as being a “pickaninny” and a “nigger”, the latter of which was still an offensive word to call black people in the mid 20th century. Adding on to that, the grandma even says that she’d like to paint the child, as if she thought he was an exotic animal found in the wilderness.

The grandma is not only a bad person, but she is also a bad christian. Despite calling herself a Christian, she breaks multiple rules and values that the Bible commands of its followers. For illustration, the bible says to “Live in harmony with one another; do not be haughty but associate with the lowly. Do not be conceited.” The grandma breaks every single one of these mandates because she doesn’t live in harmony with her own family, she is conceited, and she looks down on people of differing social class and race. She does not live in harmony with her family's wishes when she decides to bring the cat on the road trip and tries to derail the family's trip and go somewhere else for her own gain, she is vain when she dresses excessively ladylike, and she is racist and classist when she gawks at a poor black child and says she’d paint him. Many of the things that make the grandma a bad person also makes her a bad Christian. Even if the grandma hasn’t read that quote, she should know that being vain breaks one of the 7 deadly sins because vanity is an example of pride, still making her a bad Christian.

The grandma’s complete flip from being a bad person and Christian comes about from a moment of great stress. This stress happens as a result of her confrontation with “The Misfit” in which she tries to avoid her death by asking “The Misfit” to pray to Jesus, saying that he comes from a good bloodline and that he’s a good person, and offering to pay him money. “The Misfit” is able to refute her simplistic, black-and-white thinking, leaving the grandma speechless. Only through having her beliefs challenged and family murdered, is she able to have a “moment of grace” and have an epiphany; the grandma suddenly exclaims, “Why you’re one of my babies. You’re one of my own children!”, right before being murdered. This quote shows her new understanding that we are all of the same flesh and that no one is above anyone else, as taught by the Bible. Equally important, is that the grandma’s death has parallels with Jesus’ death in the Christian faith. Like Jesus, the grandma and Jesus both die to atone for something; Jesus died for others sins, while the grandma died for her own sins. In addition, the grandma’s portrayal at the end, “half sat and half lay in a puddle of blood with her legs crossed under her like a child’s and her face smiling up at the cloudless sky”, harkens to religious and societal views that say ‘children are pure and innocent’, further solidifying her change. O’Connor includes this to show that the grandma does indeed change and that her outburst isn’t just a fluke or last-ditch effort to avoid being killed.

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Everyone has the capacity for change and redemption, just as it happened to one of the most unlikely characters in “A Good Man Is Hard to Find”. Because O’Connor established the grandma as a bad person and Christian at the beginning and showed the grandma’s epiphany and her redemption, “A Good Man Is Hard to Find” is a good and effective short story about religious redemption.

Works Cited

  1. “Redemption: Definition of Redemption by Lexico.” Lexico Dictionaries | English, Lexico Dictionaries
  2. Flannery, O’Connor. “A Good Man Is Hard to Find” Approaching Literature: Reading, Thinking, Writing, edited by Peter J Schakel and Jack Ridl. Bedford/St. Martins, 2017.
  3. Holy Bible: Containing the Old and New Testaments: King James Version. American Bible Society, 2010. 
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Dr. Charlotte Jacobson

Cite this Essay

A Good Man Is Hard to Find: Symbolism of Redemption. (2023, August 04). GradesFixer. Retrieved December 11, 2023, from
“A Good Man Is Hard to Find: Symbolism of Redemption.” GradesFixer, 04 Aug. 2023,
A Good Man Is Hard to Find: Symbolism of Redemption. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 11 Dec. 2023].
A Good Man Is Hard to Find: Symbolism of Redemption [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2023 Aug 04 [cited 2023 Dec 11]. Available from:
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