What Are The Literary Elements In A Good Man Is Hard To Find?

Updated 30 September, 2023
In “A Good Man is Hard to Find” Flannery O’Connor uses various literary techniques to create eccentric characters and a twisted plot. The most important literary elements are symbolism, irony, and foreshadowing.
Detailed answer:

Flannery O'Connor's use of literary devices in "A Good Man is Hard to Find" brings to life the story of a family from Georgia traveling on vacation to Florida. Through the author's use of irony, foreshadowing and symbolism, the story is not only an intriguing piece of work, but a creative writing style to be admired.
Flannery O’Connor includes several symbols in “A Good Man Is Hard to Find.” For example, skies and weather are always symbolic to O’Connor, and she often uses such descriptions to reveal a character’s state of mind. The sky at the end of the story is cloudless and clear, indicating that the Grandmother has died with a clear vision of her place in the world. Another symbol in the story is the old house that the Grandmother insists on visiting. It represents the woman’s habit of wanting to live in the past, in a time she believes people were more decent and better than they are today.
Foreshadowing is one of the most prominent literary devices used in this story. For example, at the very beginning, the grandmother warns the family that The Misfit is on the loose and could pose a danger. She tells Bailey that she “wouldn’t take my children in any direction with a criminal on the loose. I couldn’t answer to my conscience if I did”. This comment foreshadows the family’s meeting and ultimately being killed by The Misfit.
Finally, in “A Good Man Is Hard to Find” O’Connor uses several kinds of irony to communicate her message about the human condition. At the beginning of the story, the Grandmother says “I wouldn’t take my children in any direction with a criminal like that aloose in it. I couldn’t answer to my conscience if I did.” However, this is exactly what she does when she sidetracks the family to a desolate roadside. Verbal irony occurs after the car accident when June Star announces disappointedly, “But nobody’s killed.” The story’s dramatic irony centers around the family’s interaction with the Misfit, when readers understand the gravity of the situation yet the characters do not; Bailey states “we’re in a terrible predicament! Nobody realizes what this is.”

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