Plot and "Good Man Is Hard to Essay

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Plot and "Good Man is Hard to Find"

An Analysis of Plot in O'Connor's "A Good Man is Hard to Find"

Plot, as Aristotle observes, is the representation of an action with a beginning, middle, and an end. Flannery O'Connor's "A Good Man is Hard to Find" is an example of a short story with just such a plot. O'Connor's stories often represent the action of grace, and in this story the action of grace is first seen as lacking, as something that is needed in the Grandmother; then it is prepared for by the trip, and finally it is delivered through the intervention of the Misfit and his meeting with the Grandmother. This paper will show how plot works by using O'Connor's "A Good Man is Hard to Find."

The action of O'Connor's short story is set up in the first paragraph when the Grandmother is described as not wanting to go to Florida. Her will is set against the will of her son and she means to use whatever she can to try to get her way -- even the evil existence of the Misfit (which the newspapers tell her about): "I wouldn't take my children in any direction with a criminal like that" (1). Obviously, the old woman is manipulative, proud and willful. It is also clear (as the next few paragraphs show) that the other people in the house see her as a nuisance.

The Grandmother is the central character of the story and it is with her will that the plot is concerned. The beginning of the plot introduces the Grandmother and the fact that her will is contrary to that of her son (and virtually every other character's as well).
Since the plot is concerned with the action of grace, which means with the action of stripping the Grandmother of her willfulness, pride, and overall self-centeredness, the plot must progress onward to such a point whereat this action can be achieved. This essentially means bringing into the story the very means of grace. O'Connor has already prepared for this means in the beginning of the plot: it is the Misfit, mentioned by the Grandmother. The irony is that in the beginning the Grandmother intends to use the Misfit to her advantage but that by the end God will use the Misfit as a means of getting His grace through to the Grandmother.

The Grandmother's willfulness is used to advance the plot. She smuggles her cat into the car by hiding it in her bag. Her son does not like the Grandmother bringing the cat to a motel, which is why she hides it. The cat will figure into the final conflict of the short story when it leaps out of the bag, distracts Bailey, and causes him to wreck the car on the side of the road and allow the Misfit to approach.

O'Connor uses the middle of the plot to add depth to the character of the Grandmother and to illustrate the fact that she is indeed in need of an infusion of grace. For example, it is described how the Grandmother dresses appropriately and with dignity so that in case they wrecked on the highway and she died everyone would know that she was "a lady." What O'Connor shows is that the Grandmother is concerned primarily with externals and not what is inside. In other words, the Grandmother is….....

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