Prof. Vinson Jaye
ENG 102 TV401
17 June 2018
Point of view, Character, and Setting Create Horror in “A Good Man is Hard to Find”
In Flannery O’Conner’s short story, “A Good Man is Hard to Find”, a southern family took a vacation to Tennessee, but the real journey began inside the family’s lives. The definition of a good man, how there is so few of them in the world, was the big question in this story. It started with the old timey grandmother and the family who wanted to take a vacation. Little did they know; a vacation could turn into a horror story. O’Conner used her point of view, character, and setting to show these details in this story.
O’Conner used third person point of view for this story. According to Literature, An Introduction to Reading and Writing, third person point of view is not easy to characterize (Roberts and Zweig 127), but O’Conner did an excellent job of writing the story in third person. In third person, the reader can see all the characters emotions and actions. Even though O’Conner used third person, the grandmother was the principal character. She tells the story from her perceptive. If the story was written in first person, the story would be more of a report or what someone had seen. Instead of relating to the reader, it would be more like reading a newspaper. At least with the story being in third person, the author knows the reactions, emotions, and thoughts from the characters. That is what made the story more heartfelt. The reader would believe the story and think about some of their situations in life. By doing this, the reader would defiantly have an opinion on the actions in the story. Notice, a lot of based on true horror movies often, make the person think about their own surroundings. A story like this, could do the same.
If Character was not in a story, there would not be a story. Character is the real foundation. All these characters in the story are identified by their traits. According to the book Literature, An Introduction to Reading and Writing, A trait is a quality of mind or habitual mode of behavior that is evident in both positive and negative ways (Roberts and Zweig 176). For example, the grandmother is a deceitful, self-serving, woman that lives in the past. She did not take things as they are today, she looked back on her past more. O’Conner described her as a prim and proper lady. In the story, she did not want to go to Florida (O’Conner 484). She finally talked her son Bailey, into visiting her family in east Tennessee. She deep down does love her son, and later in the story that was shown. Even an old lady said, “You 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.” (O’Connor 485) If only the grandmother knew this trip, would be unbearable in the end. During the trip, the grandmother showed landmarks in Tennessee and was reminded of her younger years. Throughout the story, they made many stops and did not get good service. They even stopped at an old plantation house. Of course, Bailey is the driver. In his mind, he was in charge. He was a high-strung character with no control of himself. He did not have a naturally sunny disposition like she did, and trips made him nervous (O’Connor 487). When the family had an encounter, with the Misfit, Bailey totally lost it. A Misfit is someone who does not fit in. From a car accident, to the Misfit stopping, they thought it was help, but their lives would forever change. Misfit become a big part of this story, as he mistreated the family. His character was quickly shown in the story. As the Misfit and Bailey run into the woods, gunshots came from abroad. The grandmother called “Bailey Boy!” (O’Connor 491). She pleaded for mercy. Even the old lady, tried to convert the Misfit. The grandmother was shot in the end and the readers can see Bailey’s main role in the story, was to be the hotheaded son.
O’Connor placed this story on and around back country roads in the South. When the reader thinks about that, it does sound kind of scary. O’Conner shows the family took a lot of detours. Just happened to be an isolated area when they had a car accident and were approached by the men. The setting had to be in an isolated area because these men knew what they were going to do. The story could not be placed in a city full of people walking on sidewalks. Plus, the story would not be as exciting. With the setting being in the deep South, the reader would feel more enticed to read it. O’Conner placed this horror scenario in the woods, because horror stories are supposed to bring fear.
Even though the grandmother did return to the South, O’Connor wrote stories that readers would not forget. This story had humor, a shocking plot, and voices of people that would touch any reader. O’Connor raised questions about faith and doubt, good and evil, and Southern binds of Black and White History in this horrific story.