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A Literary Analysis: A Good Man Is Hard to Find

Selfishness in the Characters

a. This tragic short story involves a family on a trip to Florida. The family includes the mother, father, three kids, and a grandmother. When taking a glance at the family, they seem like an exceptional Southern family. However, moving farther along the story are when some concerns begin to arise. The children, John and June can be described as impolite and even uneducated. The mother cherished her kids dearly and seems to only place her focus on them while the father seems to not enjoy his children’s company. Almost as if they are a bother to them. Lastly, the grandmother only cares for herself and maybe her cat. Despite the grandmother’s effort to not going to Florida due to the Misfit, the family ends up going anyways. The essential and most apparent themes are selfishness, manipulation, and individualism. Which coincidence enough, led them to this situation.

b. Every human has an extent to their selfishness, but the grandmother’s selfishness is an entirely different story. Her selfishness embodies her completely by the way she interacts with the family, how she acts, and even her appearance. She is almost obsessed with “being a lady” by  always being dolled up in dressed and fancy hat. A more descriptive example, “the grandmother had on a navy-blue straw sailor hat with a bunch of violets on the brim and navy-blue dress with a small white dot in the print.”” The selfish reason so that, “in case of an accident, anyone seeing her dead on the highway would know at once that she was a lady.” (O’Connor,2) She only puts this much effort into her looks and not her grandchildren or daughter-in-law. She doesn’t do any chores. She doesn’t care for their wants or concerns either.

c. Not only being selfish, but the grandmother can also be manipulative. She manipulates the other family members into bring her cat despite her son’s request not to. Due to this action, the cat is the reason for a terrible accident. She tries to get her way again in the request of sight seeing some plantations from her past. She manipulates her son again by lying. She tells the grand kids that the plantation has silver hidden within the house. She also tries to convince them by saying, “It’s not far from here, I know. It wouldn’t take over twenty minutes” (O’Connor, 5).” All her manipulation puts the family in risky situations. Bailey must agree due to the pressure of that being his mother. This manipulation leads them into meeting the Misfit.

d. Individualism is not only portrayed by the grandmother but also with the criminal, Misfit. Both try to satisfy their needs by using the people around them. This creates an environment where they never take into consideration the well-being of others. “The community holds no value” (Hooten, 198) Even though individualism and selfishness are prevalent in both of these characters, they show some type of understanding of being kind. An example is the grandmother trying to save her life by offering the Misfit to pray to Jesus. “If you would pray,” the old lady said, “Jesus would help you.”(O’Connor,8) The Misfit also apologies for being underdressed. This is the classic battle of good vs evil. However, the evil (individualism) has the upper hand. This further proves that their nature can be a threat to the people around them.

d. In conclusion, the short story displays an interesting parallel. Both characters seem to have similar characteristics. This is how they relate to each other. Both show selfishness, manipulation, and individualism in their reasons to fulfill their desires. The themes and ending create a concern that these issues need to be dealt with quickly. If people like these characters exist, then the world will just become “self-focused wanderers without a community who use others as means to their own ends” (Hooten 197). Without community, not much would be able to thrive.


1. Hooten, Jessica. Individualism in O’Connor’s A Good Man is Hard to Find.2008, The Explicator,4: 197-198. Web.

2. O’Connor, Flannery. A Good Man is Hard to Find.2011, Literature: An Introduction to Fiction, Poetry, Drama, and Writing: Custom Edition.J. Kennedy and Dana Gioia. Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Prentice Hall. 1-12. Print.

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