Course Hero. "A Good Man Is Hard to Find Study Guide." Course Hero. 12 Jan. 2017. Web. 9 May 2021. <https://www.coursehero.com/lit/A-Good-Man-Is-Hard-to-Find/>.
Course Hero. (2017, January 12). A Good Man Is Hard to Find Study Guide. In Course Hero. Retrieved May 9, 2021, from https://www.coursehero.com/lit/A-Good-Man-Is-Hard-to-Find/
(Course Hero, 2017)
Course Hero. "A Good Man Is Hard to Find Study Guide." January 12, 2017. Accessed May 9, 2021. https://www.coursehero.com/lit/A-Good-Man-Is-Hard-to-Find/.
Course Hero, "A Good Man Is Hard to Find Study Guide," January 12, 2017, accessed May 9, 2021, https://www.coursehero.com/lit/A-Good-Man-Is-Hard-to-Find/.
"A Good Man Is Hard to Find" is a well-known example of Southern Gothic literature, although Flannery O'Connor preferred to label her fiction as Christian Realism influenced by her firm Catholic faith. The Southern Gothic genre is a subgenre of Gothic literature. In addition to O'Connor, some authors admired for their work in this genre are William Faulkner, Tennessee Williams, Truman Capote, Eudora Welty, and Carson McCullers. Southern Gothic literature, like its parent genre, is characterized by an undercurrent of suspense, often foreshadowing violence. Southern Gothic writers explore cultural issues unique to southern society.
Key elements of the Southern Gothic genre include the following:
Flannery O'Connor was a Roman Catholic, and her religious views affected her writing: "I write the way I do because (not though) I am a Catholic," says O'Connor. Her modern consciousness influenced her views on religion. She believed that "church makes the current world tolerable, and, one must suffer ... from the Church." One must appreciate the world even though it is a challenge to endure. The strength to do so comes from faith in the divinity of Christ. This paradox leads to the bitterness that shows up in many of O'Connor's stories, including "A Good Man Is Hard to Find." O'Connor's beliefs led her to label herself a Christian Realist.
Reinhold Niebuhr was the founder of Christian Realism, and he influenced many people. This belief "emphasized the persistent roots of evil in human life." However, there is the view that man has great potential. The Christian Realist believes that religion has a role to play, "dealing with social problems as a method to reduce the influence of selfishness through contrition and spirit of love."
The grandmother of "A Good Man Is Hard to Find" is a selfish person who, in dire circumstances, is only concerned about saving her life. When she says to The Misfit, "Why you're one of my babies. You're one of my own children!" she is showing genuine concern for another. This act is her saving grace and the mark of a Christian Realist who is concerned about everyone.
The grandmother's condescending and biased attitudes toward African Americans were nothing unusual in the pre–Civil Rights South of the story's setting, when segregation, discrimination, and blatant inequality were still the norm. When the grandmother calls an African American child a "cute little pickaninny!" and notes, "Little niggers in the country don't have things like we do," her family doesn't blink an eye because her point of view is perfectly mainstream in that time and place, as is her belief that good character can come only from "good people."