Sample English Literature Essay Paper on Flannery O’Conner Goodness

In the manuscript “A Good Man is Hard to Find”, the author Flannery O’Conner narrates a comic strip about martyrdom as well as a massacre. As indicated by Dingquan, the story may not be considered solemn because of the author’s intensity of unfamiliarity (12). Throughout the manuscript, the reader is left with concerns over the uncertainty of what a good person is defined by goodness. O’Conner introduces her audience to the revulsion of self-love through both the ‘grandmother’ and the ‘good country people’ that are masked by goodness. The manuscript is a tale set in the 1905s featuring a less than typical family from the Southern U.S. whose vacation in the state of Florida ends abruptly after they run into three malevolent personalities led by an escaped convict named “the Misfit” in a car accident. The grandmother who has a protagonist view of the family members tells the story. Presented as an overbearing, self-centered, as well as manipulative character from the beginning who has a varied view on goodness.      

The sense of Goodness.

As the main character, the grandmother is portrayed s a good person who values his son’s family. However, she is portrayed by the author she forces her will on the family to follow her demands seizing every opportunity to fulfill her wants. This behavior seals the family as they are killed making them far from the good person that she is. This is the theme of the entire manuscript as O’Conner constantly throws the audience’s assumption back and forth.     

Superficial Goodness

It can be argued that the grandmother has a naïve premise of what goodness in people is. Firstly, O’Conner’s presentation of the grandmother states that to her a good person is honest, respectful, and polite. Secondly, the grandmother believes that ideas of goodness are anchored on race. As explained by the author, on the day the family leaves for their vacation in Florida, grandmother chooses to wear a dotted Swiss navy dress accompanied by a hat and sachet. The reason behind this dress code is imprinted on her nation that in case they are involved in an accident, the onlookers would see her like a lady. During their travels, she points out a graveyard and says “a cute little pickaninny” in an effort to show off her social superiority as a form of goodness. At Sammy’s barbecue, she shows her displeasure about the lack of good people. For this reason, she states that the family is not allowed to leave the screen doors open devoid of risk of theft, as they are accustomed to. This sentiment comes from the notion that she would like to protect his family of good people from the badness lurking in the night. Her simplicity of goodness makes her mistake the misfit as a good person because he addresses her “ma’am”. The grandmother’s presumption that Red Sammy, as well as the Misfit, is a good man indicates her superficial comprehension of goodness that she sees as the true quality.

Veritable Goodness

From the manuscript, it is clear that the Misfit’s personality disorder is rooted in his notion that Jesus is the architect of anarchy due to his gratuitous self-sacrifice for others. According to the misfit, he casually commits crime because of a guaranteed redemption. Nevertheless, at the end of the narration, the misfit seems to possibly have some level of goodness after he suggests to Bobby Lee that there is no real pleasure in life. It can also be argued that the grandmother’s epiphany as she believes that both she and the misfit are both sinners

It can be argued that O’Connor does not try to describe what “goodness” is, on the other hand, she rather adds some intricacy to the question itself. As indicated by Eder, by presenting dissimilar and to some limits ironic models of a “goodness” (41). Through the Grandmother, Bailey, Red Sammy the author makes her audience feel the difficulty of the question ‘who is a good person?’ Additionally, she introduces the ambiguity of morality between an individual’s actions. A comprehensive analysis of the issue in the short story O’Connor’ brings in the Misfit, whose in all was his very existence threatens the rationality of any form of objective “goodness” to answer the question. It can be argued that O’Connor’s resolve is not to give the audience her own perception of the answer but to dissolve them. This makes the reader more aware of how verbalized as well as visualize the concepts and platitudes of morality and determine on their own the existence of goodness in a murderous personality. For instance, after the grandmother’s family got involved in an accident, she pleads for her own life at the expense of others. In reaction, her attempts are successfully showing a selfish nature and her disregard to her family. There seems to be a weak bond of love amongst the grandmother as well as Bailey’s family but her call for safety for a known criminal.


Flannery O’Connor’s “A Good Man Is Hard to Find” stages an epic struggle between good and evil. Firstly, he presents the grandmother to the audience as a good person who loves her extended family. However, steadily she shows how she uses her goodness, as a tool to manipulate her son into doing what she sees is fir for her. This narcissistic behavior leads to the eventual demise of the entire family after they encounter three murderous criminals on their way to Florida for their vacation. Even during the death of her own family, she opts to ask for her own sympathy and not the rest of her family. She again shows compassion to the same individuals who killed her blood relatives stating that they were good people. At the end of the manuscript, the audience is left to determine if the grandmother is a good person. On the other hand, O’Connor introduces the Misfit; a known convicted serial killer who represents nothing but pure evil. During the course of reading the manuscript, the author draws this character as a victim of social and religious circumstances. The Misfit casually commits crime because he has always been treated as a social loner and because Jesus guarantees his salvation from all sin. In summary, it can be argued that the grandmother shows goodness although in a rudimentary manner that leads to herself being seen as a shallow and selfish person; but in death, she realizes the goodness in all around her. On the other hand, the Misfit is actually not a vile killer that he may seem at first but a person forced into the life of evil.

Works Cited

Dingquan, Zhang. “The Interpretive Power of Texts: Reconstructing” A Good Man Is Hard to Find”[J].” Comparative Literature in China 4 (2007).

Eder, Katharina. Flannery O’connor “a Good Man Is Hard to Find”: An Analysis. , 2009. Print.

O’Connor, Flannery, and Frederick Asals. A Good Man Is Hard to Find. New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 1993. Print.