“A Good Man Is Hard to Find” is a renowned short story by Flannery O’Connor, first published in 1953. This narrative is a staple in American literature, known for its rich symbolism, grim humor, and exploration of morality and redemption. The story follows a Southern family’s disastrous road trip and a chilling encounter with an escaped convict known as The Misfit.

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A Good Man Is Hard To Find Summary


The story centers around a grandmother, her son Bailey, his wife, and their children as they embark on a road trip to Florida. Despite warnings of an escaped convict named The Misfit looming in the area, the family sets off, with the grandmother secretly hoping to visit some old acquaintances by convincing her family to detour to an old plantation.

Plot Summary

The narrative begins with the grandmother protesting the family’s vacation destination due to reports of The Misfit’s escape to Florida. Despite her objections, the family proceeds, and the grandmother smuggles her cat along in the car.

During the journey, the grandmother reminisces about the past and manipulates Bailey into detouring to an old plantation she remembers from her youth. However, her memory is flawed—the plantation is not in Georgia but in Tennessee. On a desolate dirt road, the family crashes their car after the grandmother startles Bailey by revealing the cat she has smuggled aboard.

Stranded, they soon encounter a car with three men inside, one of whom the grandmother identifies as The Misfit. The family’s fate becomes grim as they are taken into the woods in groups and shot. The grandmother, left alone with The Misfit, attempts to reason with him, asserting he wouldn’t shoot a lady and trying to convince him to pray for salvation.

In their final moments together, the grandmother reaches out and touches The Misfit, proclaiming he’s one of her own children. This act of grace momentarily disrupts The Misfit’s moral nihilism. However, he recoils and kills her. The story concludes with The Misfit reflecting on the grandmother’s gesture, suggesting it had unsettled him, leading him to claim that it would have been better for her if she had lived her life holding the gun at all times, indicating she would have been a better person under constant threat.

A Good Man Is Hard To Find Summary


“A Good Man Is Hard to Find” delves into themes of grace, morality, and the possibility of redemption. The characters are portrayed with stark realism, with the grandmother’s superficial piety contrasted against The Misfit’s philosophical musings on Jesus and morality. O’Connor uses the family’s tragic end to explore the idea of grace impacting even the most unlikely individuals, suggesting profound truths about human nature and the potential for spiritual awakening in dire circumstances.

Notable 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.”
  • “A good man is hard to find.”

Similar Books

If you’re intrigued by the themes and narrative style of “A Good Man Is Hard to Find,” consider exploring these other works:

  1. “The Lottery” by Shirley Jackson – A short story that delves into the dark side of human nature through the depiction of a small town’s disturbing tradition.
  2. “Young Goodman Brown” by Nathaniel Hawthorne – A tale exploring good and evil, faith, and hypocrisy through a young Puritan man’s surreal, nightmarish journey.
  3. “Everything That Rises Must Converge” by Flannery O’Connor – Another of O’Connor’s stories, which explores similar themes of race, class, and morality in the American South.
  4. “No Country for Old Men” by Cormac McCarthy – A novel that examines themes of fate, conscience, and human nature through the lens of a violent crime drama in the Texas-Mexico borderlands.

“A Good Man Is Hard to Find” remains a powerful and challenging piece, emblematic of O’Connor’s skill in using violence and drama to probe the depths of the human condition and the potential for grace and redemption.

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