Short Story Sunday Review, “A Good Man is Hard to Find,” by Flannery O’Connor

Where to find this short story

You can access it for free here.
Or here.
Or you can buy the book in O’Connor’s collection of short stories.

If this story were a coffee:

It would be an Iced macchiato. Sweet and good at the top, and bitter and disastrous at the bottom.

Sypnosis:

This is probably one of my favorite short stories of all time because of how problematic is it. (Probably also because it’s by Flannery O’Connor, the lady who I wrote my senior thesis about). At it’s core, it’s a short story about a family who are superficial, obnixous, and hella white. And at the end of the story, they get killed. How? Now that would spoil the short story for you! But the characters are worth the read. The grandmother sneaks her cat on the family trip in fear that the cat will die while she’s gone (a little foreshadowing for sure). Bailey, the grandmother’s son, get’s easily agitated and yet he’s still a wimp. There are also elements of catholiticsm within the short story that are not be spoiled.

It’s an interesting short story to read because this was written in the 1950s, first published in 1953, and then republished in anthologies during the civil rights era, and recognized as one America’s best short stories. I’ve read this short story in many of my classes as an undergrad because of how well this short story is written. One of the main themes of why this story widely read is because you got a story that questions the morality of the characters. Every time I read this short story I wonder who is the hero. And as of now, the hero is the cat.

What to expect:

  • Southern Gothic Horror
    This short story is heavily detailed with bloody imagery and showcases the insanity of whiteness. Perfect for spooky season! Most importantly though, this genre is known for having elements of suspense and violence
  • Social and Racial differences
    This short story was written before the civil rights era, at a time where racial segregation is visible.
  • A cat!
    If you wanna read a short story that uses a cat as a character in the short story, this is the one! I’ve mentioned this before, but it’s worth rementioning in the story.

Favorite Quotes:

“She would of been a good woman,” The Misfit said, “if it had been somebody there to shoot her every minute of her life.”

Flannery O’Connor

“Jesus was the only One that ever raised the dead,” The Misfit continued, “and He shouldn’t have done it. He shown everything off balance. If He did what He said, then it’s nothing for you to do but throw away everything and follow Him, and if He didn’t, then it’s nothing for you to do but enjoy the few minutes you got left the best way you can by killing somebody or burning down his house or doing some other meanness to him. No pleasure but meanness,” he said and his voice had become almost a snarl.” 

Flannery O’Connor

“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.”

Flannery O’Connor

Have you read this short story? Comment below your favorite parts of the short story, and start a conversation!

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