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Analysis of Dysfunctional Family in O’connor's Story

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Flannery O’Connor was born March 25, 1925 where she was raised in Savannah, Georgia. O’Connor is an American novelist, short story writer and essayist. O’Connor studied writing at the University at Iowa and Georgia State for Women. While attending the University at Iowa State she won a fellowship to a writer’s workshop. O’Connor wrote two novels and 32 short stories. One of the short stories being “A Good Man is Hard to Find”, which was published 1955. “A Good Man is Hard to Find” creates the story of a dysfunctional family vacation taking a twisted turn of events that go wrong. O’Connor uses a dark sense of humor, foreshadowing, and imagery. By doing this it puts out the theme that even people today’s society will treat others with little or no respect or use their status as an excuse. For example, the grandmother dressing nice so if something happens, they will recognize her as a lady. The Grandmother is surprisingly the antagonist because of her selfish decisions is why the family have a wreck and get murdered by The Misfit. The Misfit is more likeable than the family and is more humane than the family put together.

In “A Good Man is Hard to Find” the Grandmother is the antagonist in this story. She seems to be the problem in the whole story and why her family has the accident and gets murdered. No one seems to really like her in the story even when the misfit meets her, he doesn’t care for her. The misfit states, “she would have been a good woman, …. if it had been somebody there to shoot her every minute of her life.” Bailey, the son, just kind of ignores his mom, seems hostile when he throws the cat, shows really no emotion even when the bandits take him to the woods, and even though trips make him anxious; he seems not to be invested into anything. The wife also seems to ignore the grandmother most of the time also. The mother doesn’t seem to show any emotion towards the end when they hear the first gunshot sounds. They realize how much trouble they’re in and she’s hurt physically and emotionally but because of her children you can tell she is trying to be strong. The children you can’t seem to like either. The children always have a rude disrespectful comment to say, even when they’re about to be murdered. When June had to go into the woods with her mom, she states “I don’t want to hold hands with him, he reminds me of a pig.” The baby is the only one in the story that is likeable, well because it’s a baby that can’t do much harm anyways. Same with the cat, yes, the cat caused the accident but if the grandmother never brought it, they would’ve never had the wreck in the first place. The Misfit is more likeable than the family and is more humane than the family put together. He doesn’t like killing which he states that killing is no life lease at the end when talking to Bobby Lee.

During the ride everything seems fine with the family in the beginning. At one-point John Wesley makes a statement about rushing through the state of Georgia just to avoid looking at it, and his sister agrees. The grandmother is not fond of the comment by stating “If I were a little boy, I wouldn’t talk about my native state that way. Tennessee has the mountains and Georgia has the hills.” John Wesley then calls Georgia a “lousy state” along with June Star agreeing. The Grandmother then states “In my time children were more respectful of their native states and their parents and everything else. People did right then.” This pretty much states that the Grandmother is telling the children they’re disrespectful, rude, and ungrateful. Which is somewhat true, but the Grandmother is the pot calling the kettle black. The grandmother seems because she’s a lady she is entitled to a lot and doesn’t realize what she says or how she acts most of the time. After this the car ride seems to go back to normal with the children reading their comics. Once they finished reading all the comics, they began to eat their lunch, and the Grandmother ate her peanut butter sandwich with an olive. Once demolishing their lunches, the children began to play a game by choosing a cloud and making the other two guess the shape. At one point during the game John Wesley picked a cloud in the shape of a cow and June guessed it was in the shape of a cow. John then proceeds to saw she was wrong, and it was an automobile. June then is upset and says John is playing unfair and began to slap each other, showing they can’t seem to play fair or get along. When the children began to slap each other over the grandmother you can tell she got annoyed quick by saying she would tell them a story if they would keep quiet. The Grandmother proceeds to tell the children a story when she was a maiden and had been courted by a very good-looking gentleman, Mr. Edgar Atkins Teagarden. Mr. Teagarden would always bring her watermelon on Saturday afternoons. One Saturday afternoon nobody was home and he left the watermelon on the porch with his initials E.A.T. carved in it, like he normally would do. Well apparently, she never got it because a black boy who saw the initials then ate the watermelon. John Wesley enjoyed the story and giggled while June star did not. June Star then states “she wouldn’t marry a man that just brought her a watermelon on Saturday.” The Grandmother then says she would’ve done well by marrying him because he was a gentleman and when the Coca-Cola stocks first came out, he bought them; so, he died a very wealthy man. From that conversation you can tell June Star is ungrateful, unappreciative, again never has anything nice to say, and hard to please, just from the story and when it comes to sweet gestures that men will do to show they care.

The family comes at a stop at The Tower for barbecued sandwiches. Red Sammy was the owner of The Tower which was part of a stucco, part wood filling station, and part dance hall set. Red Sammy also had a monkey that was startled climbing to the highest part of the tree when seeing the children jumping out of the car running to him. This action shows the children don’t really have respect for anything because they immediately start running around a place that isn’t there’s and going after an animal that’s not their pet. Once inside the mother plays a song on the jukebox which the Grandmother seems to enjoy. She then asks Bailey, her son, if he would dance with her but he just stares at her. O’Connor then exposes that Bailey isn’t the natural sunshine disposition like his mother and trips make him nervous. Bailey is pretty much on edge the entire trip and he just sees life as half empty, pretty much like he is miserable most the time or sees life through a negative perspective. June Star asks her mother to play a song she could dance to, so her mother plays a fast beat song. This catches Red Sam’s wife, the waitress, attention and she state, “Would you like to come be my little girl?” June then replies, “I wouldn’t live in a broken-down place like this for a million bucks!” as she runs back to the table. Red Sammy’s wife then says “Ain’t she cute?” trying to be polite with a smile. The Grandmother is the only one who seems to care about June being rude to Red Sam’s wife because she then hissed “Aren’t you ashamed?” June was rude and disrespectful, and the parents didn’t do anything about it. No whooping, scolding, apologizing to Red Sam’s wife or anything just let it slide like every other rude comment that comes out of Junes mouth. Red Sammy then comes inside stating a good man is hard to find and you can’t trust no one. The Grandmother then has a conversation with Red Sammy about how nobody is good anymore, you can’t trust anyone, oh the times have changed, its all Europe’s fault. They talk that back in the day how easy and simple things were but now you can’t leave the door open anymore and on top of that things are getting worse. After everyone finishes up eating, they all hop in and get back on the road.

Back on the road after a few cats naps the Grandmother remembered the old plantation, this is were everything starts crumbling and falling apart. The Grandmother knew Bailey would not stop just for an old house, so she lied. The main and only reason the Grandmother wanted to visit the old plantation is to see if the arbors were still standing. The Grandmother starting fibbing about secret panels that had family silver that to this day has never been found. This drives the children into a frenzy just wanting to go find the hidden panels. The children began shoulder whining. All this commotion woke the baby which also began screaming. Trips already made Bailey nervous and then all this chaos was the last straw and he pulls the car over. Tensions are already high, and Bailey is already over the trip as you can tell, but he turns around and they go towards the screaming, yelling, and kicking. John kicked the back of the front seat and June hung over her mother’s plantation. After turning down the dirt road and driving for a bit Baileys says, “This place had better turn up in a minute or I’m going to turn around.” You can tell Bailey is over this trip and ready for it to be home. You can also see the plantation is just a waste of time to Bailey especially since the road looks like it has not been traveled on in months. The Grandmother proceeds to say, “It’s not much further,” as she says this a horrible thought comes to her mind making her jump. She jumped so bad knocking over her bag, and as soon as the bag moved the newspaper covering the basket set Pitty Sing, the cat, free. Pitty Sing sprang onto Baileys shoulder making him lose control of the automobile causing the wreck. All of this was caused by the Grandmother bringing the cat, scheming a way for Bailey to turn back for a plantation just to see if it was still standing, and knocking over the basket setting the cat free. All because the horrible thought she had was because she remembers the plantation was not actually in Georgia but Tennessee. As soon as the crash was over everyone tried to gather their thoughts on what happened and what to do next. O’Connor has some foreshadowing, irony, and dark sense of humor with “But nobody’s killed,” as June stays with disappointment. From this point on it seems everyone is completely over the Grandmother. When the mother talks mentioning maybe a car will come by all in a shock state from the wreck. The Grandmother follows up with possibly having an injured organ, but no one answers and just ignores her.

Bailey at this point has had it because he is so mad his teeth are chattering, at this point a vehicle in the distance was slowly pulling up. Once the vehicle of men reached the family they got out and started talking, and not in a supportive are you okay type of manner. The men were more eerie and creepy giving off bad I don’t trust these people vibes. The Grandmother had recognized they older shirtless man from somewhere but couldn’t recall it. After the family questioning about the man’s gun, why is he telling them what to do, what’s he going to do with them, and the Grandmother then remembers. As she was in horror and got to her feet, she exposed the older shirtless man to be The Misfit. The Misfit then approves and tells the it would’ve been better if they hadn’t recognized him. At that moment Bailey says something to his mother that shocked his family, the Grandmother began to cry causing The Misfits face to redden. Bailey probably whispered something about how they’re all going to die now because she exposed him. If Bailey did say something a long those lines the Grandmother is the cause for all the misfortunate events that occurred on family. At this point the Grandmother and The Misfit talk, she tries to convince him he is a good guy, he can change, this isn’t the life for him, and to just pray. During the Grandmothers plea trying to get the misfit to spare them, The Misfit first has Bailey and John Wesley sent off into the woods first. At this moment Bailey says “Listen, we’re in a terrible predicament! Nobody realizes what this is,” while saying this his voice cracks in defeat and sorrow. Baileys realizes at this point him and his family is over, and he is going out with his boy first not knowing what they may do to the women before they kill them. As they were marched towards the woods at the tree line Bailey turns back and says to his mom he will be back in a minute and wait on him. The irony of it is we know he won’t be coming back, but when they’re all passed, they will then meet again. So maybe O’Connor had Bailey make that comment, its sad but if that was the purpose its probably the only good in the story is in the afterlife they will meet again. The Grandmother is still clueless about what is really going on, she doesn’t think that her family is getting murdered into the woods. So, after the first two gunshots she looks back towards the wood’s ad calls out “Bailey Boy!” not aware that he is gone but believes he is still alive. After The Misfits henchmen appear from the woods and they have Baileys shirt, which they give to The Misfit. The Grandmother recognizes the shirt but is clueless and can’t remember, while the wife knows and starts heavy breathing. The Misfit then asks the wife if her and the little girl would like to join her husband. The wife honestly at this point has no choice and realize there’s no saving them and she just lost her boys. The wife tells The Misfit “Yes, thank you” and her, the baby, and June are escorted towards the woods. Well as Bobby Lee, one of the henchmen, goes to hold onto June’s hand she says, “I don’t want to hold hands with him, he reminds me of a pig.” Even in a life and death situation June is still rude and disrespectful, and the irony of her comment from the wreck someone well now everyone gets killed. After hearing two more shots from the woods the Grandmother still doesn’t realize what’s going on and cries out “Bailey Boy, Bailey Boy!” After the last of the shots the Grandmother is still taking to The Misfit and trying to convince him to change his ways and pray, that this isn’t the real him and he has good blood. Eventually she has said stuff to bring back a memory it seems to have him triggered almost in a trance. During this trance she claims he is one of her own babies and touches him. This makes The Misfit lose it, jump back, and shoot the Grandmother three times in the chest. At this point The Misfit and Bobby Lee are talking, saying the grandmother was a talker and The Misfit says, “She would’ve been a good woman if it had been somebody there to shoot her every minute of her life.” Bobby Lee states that it would be fun, but The Misfit tell him to shush because shooting someone is not pleasure.

O’Connor’s “A Good Man is Hard Too Find” is based on a dysfunctional family going on a vacation taking a twisted turn of events that go wrong. O’Connor uses a dark sense of humor, foreshadowing, and imagery. By doing this it puts out the theme that even people today’s society will treat others with little or no respect or use their status as an excuse. For example, the Grandmother dressing nice so if something happens, they will recognize her as a lady. The Grandmother is surprisingly the antagonist because of her selfish decisions is why the family have a wreck and get murdered by The Misfit. The Misfit is more likeable than the family and is more humane than the family put together. He doesn’t like killing which he states that killing is no life lease at the end when talking to Bobby Lee. From the conversation he has with the Grandmother he exposes himself a bit. He came from an amazing family and it maybe seems he was possibly accused of something he didn’t do. If that was the case it drove him mad and into the person, he is today. The Misfit does have the decency to take them separate into the woods and not have them killed in front of each other. The Misfit doesn’t kill them except the Grandmother, but Bobby Lee and the other guy was the ones who killed the family because The Misfit doesn’t like it. There’s really no happy ending except maybe O’Connor having Bailer Say, “I’ll be back in a minute, Mamma, wait on me!” The irony of it is you know, and even Bailey knows realistically this is the end for the family, but there’s the afterlife. The family is Christian’s and believe in God, well the belief is that even in the afterlife if you ask for forgiveness you will go to Heaven and will meet loved ones you have lost prior. If O’Connor was trying to use this imagery, then Bailey was saying that hey just wait and we will all be back together again. If this is the case this makes the ending a little bit better if not it’s a good perspective to have to make the story not seem so dark.

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Analysis Of Dysfunctional Family In O’Connor’s Story. (2022, April 29). GradesFixer. Retrieved May 20, 2022, from https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/analysis-of-dysfunctional-family-in-oconnors-story/
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