How Is Dramatic Irony Used In A Good Man Is Hard To Find?

Updated 30 September, 2023
The main source of dramatic irony in A Good Man is Hard to Find is the way the grandmother sees herself. She views herself as an elegant, proper, and wise southern lady, but the author quickly shows the reader that the grandmother is far from a good person, due to her deceitful behavior and racist views.
Detailed answer:

There are many examples of dramatic irony in Flannery O’Connor’s famous short story “A Good Man is Hard to Find”. Perhaps the most significant example of this type of irony comes from the character of the grandmother and her vision of herself.
Throughout the short story the grandmother sees and presents herself as “a good person”. To reach those conclusions means she ignores — or possibly does not even realize — her untrustworthy behaviors. She brings Pitty Sing along on the trip, for example, knowing this will annoy Bailey. She lies and uses guilt to manipulate people and get her own way. She puts her own self-interest above that of anyone else, including above the welfare of her family. Also since goodness is often equated with kindness and generosity, the grandmother fails the goodness test when she begrudges the postwar financial aid the United States provides to Europe. As she and Red Sammy discuss "better times" she complains, "The way Europe [acts] you would think we were made of money."
Another important example of dramatic irony appears at the end of the story. When the Misfit and his companions hold the family at gunpoint, the grandmother begins to speak with the Misfit in an attempt to save her life, but not her own family. The grandmother says things that she thinks the Misfit wants to hear, “Why you’re one of my babies? You’re one of my own children!”. This is an example of dramatic irony because in this instance one would expect the grandmother to plead for the lives of her family, but instead she disregards them as they are being directed into the woods by gunpoint, and only pleads for her own life. This prompts the grandmother’s moment of grace, which she willingly accepts.

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