A Good Man Is Hard to Find
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“I just know youre a good man! Youre not at all common!”
Just some of the last pleading words of the grandmother in the story, “A Good Man is Hard to Find” by Flannery OConnor. In the story, the author uses colloquialism, point-of-view, foreshadowing, and irony, as well as other rhetorical devices, to portray the satire of southern beliefs and religion throughout the entire piece.
Flannery OConnor lived most of her life in the southern state of Georgia. When once asked what the most influential things in her life were, she responded “Being a Catholic and a Southerner and a writer.” (1) She uses her knowledge of southern religion and popular beliefs to her advantage throughout the story. Not only does she thoroughly depict the southern dialect, she uses it more convincingly than other authors have previously attempted such as Charles Dickens and Zora Neale Hurston. In other works, the authors frequently use colloquialism so “local” that a reader not familiar with those slang terms, as well as accents, may have difficulty understanding or grasping the meaning of the particular passage. OConnor not only depicts a genuine southern accent, she allows the characters to maintain some aspect of intelligence, which allows the audience to focus on the meaning of the passage, rather than the overbearing burden of interpreting a rather “foreign language.”
Another device not frequently used before OConnor is the transition between third-person to first-person point-of-view, the first-person being through the grandmother. In the beginning of the story, she describes how the each of the characters feel towards taking a trip to Florida, as well as hint at the relationships they hold for one another. Then the narrator goes on to describe the grandmothers personal thoughts and feelings throughout the trip, as well as how she thinks towards the end of the story. We first see the first-person point-of-view when the narrator tells how the grandmother did not want to leave the cat at home alone because he would miss her too much and she feared he would accidentally asphyxiate himself with the burners on the stove. The reason this particular part of the story is considered first-person narration is because it goes directly into the mind of the grandmother, telling why she brought the cat along with her. We also see this first-person narration when Bailys wife is consistently referred to as the childrens mother, rather than by her name or as Bailys wife. The lack of interaction between the grandmother as well as the title given to the wife leads us to believe that there is friction between the mother and the wife, therefore her being referred to as the childrens mother would be from the grandmothers point-of-view.
Foreshadowing is also a key factor in showing the irony and satire of the entire piece. One of the moments death is foreshadowed is when the grandmother tells how she is such a lady. “Her collar and cuffs were white organdy trimmed