A Critical Review And Summary of "A Good Man Is Hard to Find"

A Good Man Is Hard to Find is a classic short story by Flannery O’Connor, renowned for its clever use of irony and dark humor. Published in 1953, it remains one of the most celebrated pieces of American literature and a staple of many high school and college curriculums. In this short story post, we'll offer a critical review, analysis and summary of A Good Man Is Hard to Find, exploring its characters, themes, and literary devices.

Summary of "A Good Man Is Hard To Find" Plot

A Good Man Is Hard to Find is a short story written by Flannery O’Connor that tells the story of a family on a road trip to Florida. The family, including a grandmother, her son Bailey, his wife, and their three children, encounter a serial killer known as the Misfit, who had escaped from prison. The grandmother recognizes the Misfit and tries to reason with him, telling him he is a good man deep down, but the Misfit ultimately kills the entire family. The story ends with the Misfit commenting that the grandmother would have been a good woman if there had been someone there to shoot her every minute of her life. 

A Good Man Is Hard to Find is a well-known short story, and there are several online resources where you can read it for free, such as our short stories online blog.


A Good Man Is Hard to Find by Flannery O’Connor features a range of memorable characters. The protagonist, a grandmother who is unnamed throughout the story, is a deeply flawed and self-centered woman. Her desire to see the world through the lens of her own experiences often causes tension and conflict with those around her, particularly her son, Bailey, and his family.

Bailey’s wife, the mother of the children in the story, is not given a name either. She is a somewhat peripheral character who remains quiet for most of the story. The children, John Wesley and June Star, are boisterous and difficult to control. Despite their youth, they possess a dark sense of humor that reflects the overall tone of the story.

The Misfit, the story’s antagonist, is a complex and disturbing character. A convicted killer who has escaped from prison, he is on the run and ends up crossing paths with the family on their ill-fated road trip. His beliefs and values are in stark contrast to those of the grandmother, who attempts to reason with him in a bid for her own survival.

The characters in A Good Man Is Hard to Find are all fully realized, with their own unique motivations and personalities. Flannery O’Connor was a master of characterization, and this short story is no exception. For those interested in reading A Good Man Is Hard to Find, the story can be found online as a short story pdf.

Themes In A Good Man Is Hard To Find

In A Good Man Is Hard to Find, Flannery O’Connor delves into several themes that are prevalent throughout the story. At its core, the story examines the question of morality, particularly the struggle between good and evil. This theme is presented through the interactions between the characters, who all seem to be struggling with their own morality in different ways.

Another key theme is the concept of grace, and whether or not it is attainable by those who are deemed "unworthy" by society's standards. This is represented through the character of The Misfit, who appears to be irredeemable in the eyes of the grandmother and the other characters. However, through his interactions with the grandmother, we see glimpses of his humanity, and the possibility of him receiving grace is left open to interpretation.

Finally, the theme of fate is also present in A Good Man Is Hard to Find. The family's journey takes several unexpected turns, and their ultimate demise feels almost predestined. This theme raises questions about the nature of free will, and whether or not our actions truly have the power to change our fate.

Overall, the themes present in A Good Man Is Hard to Find are complex and thought-provoking, and add depth and richness to the story. Flannery O’Connor masterfully weaves them throughout the narrative, leaving the reader with much to ponder long after the final page has been turned.


One of the most significant aspects of A Good Man Is Hard to Find by Flannery O’Connor is its use of symbols. From the Misfit’s face tattoos to the Grandmother’s cat, every symbol in this short story serves a purpose. Perhaps the most notable symbol is the Misfit’s gun. Initially, the gun appears as a tool of intimidation, but it eventually transforms into a symbol of death, as it is used to murder the entire family.

The car in which the family travels also serves as a symbol, representing the journey of life. While the Grandmother attempts to steer the car towards the path of goodness, the Misfit redirects the car towards a destructive end. The accident at the end of the story is symbolic of the inevitable end that all human beings must face.

Another symbol in the story is the Grandmother’s hat. The hat serves as a representation of her vanity and self-absorption. This symbol highlights the fact that the Grandmother is more concerned with her own image than with the well-being of her family.

Finally, the cat is an essential symbol in the story. The cat is a symbol of innocence and vulnerability, much like the young boy who appears at the end of the story. The cat is also symbolic of the family’s own fragility, and its presence further highlights the perilous situation that they find themselves in.

Literary Devices

Flannery O’Connor was a master of utilizing literary devices to convey her messages in A Good Man Is Hard to Find. She employed foreshadowing to hint at the tragic ending, with the Misfit being mentioned early on in the story. The use of irony was also prominent throughout the narrative, as the grandmother’s attempts to manipulate the situation ultimately led to her demise.

The story also featured symbolism, such as the cat representing the family’s impending doom and the Misfit’s car representing the looming threat of violence. Additionally, O’Connor utilized characterization as a literary device to show the stark differences between the grandmother and the Misfit. While the grandmother initially appeared to be a loving and kind woman, the reader ultimately realizes that her behavior is manipulative and self-centered. Conversely, the Misfit is portrayed as a cold-blooded killer, but is also shown to have moments of introspection and regret.

The use of religious imagery was another significant literary device in A Good Man Is Hard to Find. O’Connor, a devout Catholic, employed Christian themes throughout the story, particularly with the grandmother’s final act of redemption as she reaches out to the Misfit, imploring him to pray.

A Good Man Is Hard To Find PDF - Short Story By Flannery O'Connor

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