In the short story A Good Male Is Difficult to Discover by Flannery O’Conner, the reader is handled a journey and tags along with a self-indulgent family as they check out the sights of the rural south while en path to their destination, a household trip in Florida.
As they take a trip the dusty roadway, O’Connor (2012) takes them from paradise, “simultaneously, they would be on a hill, looking down over the blue tops of trees for miles around,” (p.
139) and spirals them down to hell “then the next minute, they would be in a red anxiety with the dust covered trees looking down on them,” (p. 139) where they satisfy their sudden and unforeseen death. Through everything, O’Connor spins a violent, dark and miserable tale, utilizing importance, allusions, irony and mental elements to efficiently communicate her theme of good versus evil, and reminds us that great does not always win.
O’Connor (2012) starts us in an unnamed city, with a family of 6 as they discuss their upcoming trip to Florida. The hubby, Bailey, is concise and brief with his words. His partner and mom, both stay unnamed in the story but have quite contrasting personalities. Bailey’s mother, the grandmother, is self-centered and frequently manipulative. His spouse, the children’s mother, is quiet and meek as she cares for her youngest child, the child.
His 2 older kids, John Wesley and June Star, are outspoken and rude, and their disrespectful behavior goes unpunished. They take a trip the back roads of Georgia together as the granny tells tales of the past and mentions uninteresting sights, which fall on the deaf ears of her family. The family picks up lunch at a roadside diner, and the reader gets a more look into their everyday interaction, and for a minute, things actually seem hopeful for the inefficient family.
After their meal, the family continues to their destination, and the granny and children control Baily into taking a detour to check out an old, strange estate that the grandmother when checked out in her younger years. A sudden and humiliating thought of the grandmother leads to a car mishap where miraculously, nobody sustains any severe injury. A minute of hope in rescue turns depressing as their rescuer ends up to a left killer, the Misfit, who eventually eliminates the household. The granny, who in more ways than one is accountable for the family’s untimely end, has a moment of grace in her last moment and dies with a smile on her face (p. 134-146).
O’Connor’s story is filled with significance and allusion, in order to further convey her dark style of death and concepts surrounding it. An example of such importance is when the household is passing the town of Toombsboro. O’Connor (2012) composes “beyond Toombsboro she woke up and remembered an old plantation that she had actually gone to in this neighborhood as soon as when she was a young lady” (p. 138).
The name of the town, Toombsboro plays on the word burial place, which represents death. This mentions the reader that death may be in the family’s future. O’Connor continues with the importance after the family has crashed, and their wish for rescue comes in the type of a hearse. The household sees a cars and truck gradually driving towards them, lumbering along the twists and turns of the road they had actually simply taken a trip. As it appears in front of them, O’Connor (2012) writes “it was a big black battered hearse-like car” (p. 140). Once again, the image of a hearse, which is used to transfer the dead, brings the idea of death to the mind of the reader, and even more mentions the death that the family is about to come across.
O’Connor (2012) advances her death allusions and meaning when she composes “the Misfit pointed the toe of his shoe into the ground and made a little hole and after that covered it up again” (p. 142). The Misfit in this case, is digging a hole and after that covering it back up, signifying the digging of a grave, and then filling the grave back in. O’Connor’s use of signs of death advance her theme and contribute to the dark tone of the story.
O’Connor likewise utilizes a number of mental aspects to further relate her characters to her readers. As O’Connor starts the story, all members of the family appear in one method or another to be self-indulgent, which connects to the psychoanalysis regard to the “Id,” which are the unconscious desires of the character and the gratification of those desires. In one passage, the granny speaks with the kids of an old southern gentleman she as soon as understood, Mr. Teagarden. O’Connor (2012) writes “she would have done well to marry Mr. Teagarden since he … had actually purchased Coca-Cola stock when it first came out which he had died … a very rich man” (p. 137).
This remark by the grandma hints on her unconscious materialistic desires about money, and is even shameful enough to impart this negative personal quality onto her grandchildren. Furthermore, this quality is seen in the kids when O’Connor writes about June Star as she discusses the roadside restaurant where they have actually stopped. June Star says “I would not live in a broken-down location like this for a million dollars” (O’Connor, 2012, p. 137). June Star is revealing her materialistic desires when she mentions that she has no care to live in anything but high-end, even for a large amount of money.
Even more in the story, the children toss a temper tantrum, even turning to violent tactics, in order to get their method and go to the old estate where hidden prized possessions are rumored to be stashed. O’Conner (2012) composes: “The kids began to yell and shout that they wanted to see the house with the secret panel. John Wesley kicked the back of the front seat and June Star hung over her mother’s shoulder and whined desperately into her ear …
The infant started to scream and John Wesley kicked the back of the seat so hard that his dad might feel the blows in his kidney” (p. 139). Again, O’Connor shows the Id of the children as they look for gratification of their desires, which is to get the concealed belongings. This shows the materialistic worths that the kids hold. O’Connor’s usage of psychoanalytic ideas helps further convey her theme and tone to the reader.
O’Connor also uses a variety of examples of paradox in her story to much better involve the reader. The grandma specifies “I would not take my children in any instructions with a criminal like that aloose in it. I couldn’t solution to my conscious if I did” (O’Connor, 2012, p. 134). This statement, while foreshadowing to a particular degree, turns paradoxical at the end of the story, as it is the granny that detours the family down the dirt roadway, where they ultimately enter contact with the Misfit, and are eliminated.
It is also ironic in that the grandmother does need to answer to her mindful, and O’Connor (2012) explains the granny, after being shot by the Misfit, as having “her face smiling up at the cloudless sky” (p. 145), revealing that the granny passed away at peace. Again, this is ironic because the granny was straight accountable for her kids and grandchildren’s deaths, yet she died at peace with the world. O’Connor’s usage of irony throughout the story is an exceptional method to further her overall tone, and engage the reader deeper into the story.
O’Connor’s story brings the reader into the realm of death by her use of symbolism, paradox, and psychoanalysis. Her usage of signs and allusions of death, looking for satisfaction for individual desires, and the concept that the characters satisfy a paradoxical death, all develop a strong base in which to communicate her theme that living a great, pure and wholesome life may spare you from evil. The character’s might feel on top of the world as they take a trip down the dusty, winding roadway of life, however ultimately pass away, due to their self-centered methods, in a reddened, deep ditch, at the edge of a dark woods.
O’Connor, F. (2012 ). A Great Male Is Hard to Find. In P. Schakel, & & J. Ridl, Approaching literature: Reading, thinking, writing (3rd ed., pp. 134-146). Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s.