As part of my Classic Book Club Challenge, I’m reading The Complete Stories by Flannery O’Connor. This book is quite large so I’m taking it slow and reading only a few stories at a time.
Flannery O’Connor is a American author, who was born in the 1925 and died at the young age of 39. During her short life she wrote multiple essays, 2 novels and 32 short stories. Her Complete Stories won the National Book Award for Fiction in 1972.
Here is my review of “A Good Man is Hard to Find” found in The Complete Stories. All my reviews are based off my initial reaction/thoughts, however I do think O’Connors work needs and deserves more reflection and study because they are loaded with further meaning.
“A Good Man is Hard to Find” by Flannery O’Connor
Rating: ★★★★ // wow. I tell you what, wow.
Opening Line: “The Grandmother didn’t want to go to Florida.”
I have a friend who describes O’Connor’s stories as “a normal day in a normal life and then somebody has a gun,” which, in fact, is the exact plot of “A Good Man is Hard to Find.” This story follows a grandmother, her son, and his family as they from Georgia to Florida. Along the way normal “road trip” activities ensue until they have an accident and are approached by an escaped convict.
This story, if nothing else, shows us the corruption of people, especially those who feel they have been mistreated or misunderstood their whole lives. The criminal claims he never knew what he did to be put in jail, and he doesn’t think his punishment fit his crime. This belief turned him evil, he no longer cares about choosing good because, in his mind, what’s the point?
The second point I gathered from this (and as I said before I should read some articles and reflections because there is probably so much more to gain from this story) is that in order to be good we must choose to be good. This is an obvious point, but one that is much more active than we usually think. Every decision we make is a good or evil decision. Yes, some may be a good or a not as good decision, but if we constantly make the not as good decision we will soon find our selves choosing the evil choice and not even realizing it.
At one point we see this in the convict. The grandmother tells him that if he prays, Jesus will help him, and he responds by saying he is sure Jesus would, but he doesn’t want his help, he doesn’t want to be good. The convict has gotten to the point where he is no longer capable of choosing the good because he has chosen to be evil.
I enjoyed this story mainly because of the moral discussion it brings up. The narration is strong and the story is concise without leaving out anything important. The characters are believable, and even in the short time ellapsed, the reader is able to feel connected with the characters.
Before reading it, I know O’Connor was a gothic writer, but I did not expect it to be as dark as it was. I also didn’t expect to be blown away by 25 page story, and yet, I was.
To learn more about the Classics Club and to start your own list, check out their blog!