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Flannery O’Connor is considered as the one of the most important American gothic writer in the 20th century. As readers, we read different short stories that we often consider the different things that make the story insightful and interesting. In Flannery O’Connor’s, “A Good Man is Hard to Find”, a family travels to Florida for the summer vacation. Bailey, son of the Grandmother, brings his family to Florida for a vacation, however Bailey’s mother, The Grandmother, doesn’t seem to be thrilled about going to Florida. The Grandmother is reading a newspaper mentions “The Misfit”, a fugitive criminal who escaped at the Federal Penitentiary, being on the loose, which her family did not heed her story and ignored her completely. The Grandmother faces her ultimate demise as she meets The Misfit to her death. In Flannery O’Connor’s “A Good Man is Hard to Find”, she achieved addressing the misconceptions of the meaning of goodness by using the third person point-of-view limited, also the upbringings of the Grandmother which affected her attitude and perception of her life whereas the choice of setting in the story symbolises the fears and uncertainties of the world.
The usage of third person point-of-view limited allows the story to focus solely on the Grandmother’s limited knowledge, because the Grandmother has some knowledge of the information within herself but she doesn’t share it to readers, because she wants it to keep it to herself and withholding it. For example, the Grandmother’s point of view is shown by illustrating, “‘The children have been to Florida before,’ the old lady said. ‘You all ought to take them somewhere else for a change so they would see different parts of the world and be broad. They never have been to east Tennessee.’” (413). The Grandmother’s point of view selfishly insists Bailey, to go Tennessee rather than travelling down to Florida, asserting that going to Tennessee is a better place for a family vacation and claiming that travelling to Tennessee is a good place for a vacation and easier travel than Florida. Her tone in this dialogue is regarded a very unladylike behaviour which it shows that the Grandmother has a façade which reflects through her behaviour and attitude which it exposes her egotism and pettiness of herself. Similarly, her point-of-view is limited because the story is mainly focused on the Grandmother. Moreover, the Grandmother is annoyed at her family for not listening what she has to say thus prompting her to be more bothersome to the rest of her family by rambling about things she can think of such as the day being, “a good day for driving, neither too hot nor too cold, and she cautioned Bailey that the speed limit was fifty-five miles an hour and the patrolmen hid themselves behind billboards……sped out after you before you had a chance to slow down” (414). At this point, the Grandmother begins to irritate her own family and to her son, Bailey, whilst he is driving the car bothering Bailey to b a good driver. This also means that the Grandmother’s insistence of being perceived of being “good” reflects on the story as it exhibits itself on her own point of view which it focuses on her but the narrator has a limited perspective of other characters which it shows in the dialogue of the story. Also, the Grandmother’s point of view reflects on the tone of the dialogue that she shows in the what the Grandmother really is as a character, character details tells us the attitude of the character in which their behaviour and attitude reveals in the story.
The character details are about the actions and knowledge that is known to us or even information that is withheld to us readers. The reason the Grandmother grown up in that period is because women in that era are ought to take care of their children, teach them the proper Christian values and teach them proper etiquettes and mannerisms towards others. However, in the case of the Grandmother, her actions do not reflect her attitude nor mannerism but rather she has shown ignorance and arrogance towards herself and to her family as well. For example, The Grandmother made a comment to her grandson, John Wesley, about those two states, Georgia and Tennessee, she said that, “‘If I were a little boy,’ said the grandmother, ‘I wouldn’t talk about my native state that way. Tennessee has the mountains and Georgia has the hills’” (414). This dialogue reflects on how the Grandmother is showing ignorance towards her grandson and it shows her action reflects her personality and thus, it gives us indication that the Grandmother is putting herself high and mighty and it exhibits that she is conceitful person. Furthermore, her arrogance is exhibited in the story as she said to Red Sammy that, “People are certainly are not nice like they used to be” (417). Her arrogance shows how the Grandmother think lowly towards others and by saying that “people are certainly not nice”, indicates to us that the Grandmother is behaving in a condescending manner which it exposes her conceitful behaviour and thus, the perception of goodness it revolves around being the “good” man and others are not so much that “good” in her own view. Setting determines the story’s location, in which our thoughts are being challenged to faced the predicament.
The reason why the author chooses the dirt road as a choice of setting in the story is because the dirt road is where we face our ultimate demise in this world. As suppose to a forest, the forest is our unknown territory where we faced our own uncertainties, doubts and fears of the world. But also, the dirt road has a connotation of our own end of our mortal life here on Earth which O’Connor uses the side of the dirt road as a choice of setting to remind us readers that this where the Grandmother faced her demise. For example, O’Connor describes that, “The dirt road was hilly and there were sudden washes in it and sharp curves on dangerous embankments” (419). This description of the dirt road represents in this story is a representation of a foreshadowing which the “embankments” are used to prevent the rivers to flood in a certain area, but also, embankments are used to signify as what might be the future resting place for the Grandmother and her family. The author also uses the ditch as a final place where the Grandmother meets the Misfit and eventually becomes the downfall of her. The ditch in the story is describes as tall, dark and deep which it represents as a grave. The choice of setting is a huge part in the development of the story as it connects the dots of the different ideas that author exhibits in the story.
Flannery O’Connor achieved by writing the story of, “A Good Man is Hard to Find”, as we are learnt the misconceptions of the idea of “goodness” in the story by identifying the point of view of the Grandmother which she has limited perspective towards, attitude and mannerisms that affected the Grandmother to find the definition of “goodness” in her life. Also, the meaning of embankment and ditch which it defines our resting place for the sake of goodness of our life. The perception of goodness does not come on how we behave or act outside but rather, the definition of goodness is about living the life with good deeds not how we behave or act prim and proper in our lives.
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