O Connor A Good Man Is Hard To Find Essay

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SOURCE: "A Reasonable Use of the Unreasonable," in Mystery and Manners: Occasional Prose, Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1969, pp. [In the following lecture given at Hollins College, Virginia, on October 14, 1963, O'Connor discusses the function of violence in "A Good Man Is Hard to Find."] Last fall I received a letter from a student who said she would be "graciously appreciative" if I would tell her "just what enlightenment" I expected her to get from each of my stories. I wrote her back to forget about the enlightenment and just try to enjoy them.I knew that was the most unsatisfactory answer I could have given because, of course, she didn't want to enjoy them, she just wanted to figure them out.I realize that a certain amount of this what-is-the-significance has to go on, but I think something has gone wrong in the process when, for so many students, the story becomes simply a problem to be solved, something which you evaporate to get Instant Enlightenment.A story really isn't any good unless it successfully resists paraphrase, unless it hangs on and expands in the mind.I do think, though, that like the Greeks you should know what is going to happen in this story so that any element of suspense in it will be transferred from its surface to its interior.I would be most happy if you had already read it, happier still if you knew it well, but since experience has taught me to keep my expectations along these lines modest, I'll tell you that this is the story of a family of six which, on its way driving to Florida, gets wiped out by an escaped convict who calls himself the Misfit.Properly, you analyze to enjoy, but it's equally true that to analyze with any discrimination, you have to have enjoyed already, and I think that the best reason to hear a story read is that it should stimulate that primary enjoyment.I don't have any pretensions to being an Aeschylus or Sophocles and providing you in this story with a cathartic experience out of your mythic background, though this story I'm going to read certainly calls up a good deal of the South's mythic background, and it should elicit from you a degree of pity and terror, even though its way of being serious is a comic one.Major Themes With rare, but significant, exceptions most critics accept O'Connor's description of "A Good Man Is Hard to Find" as a tale of redemptive grace in a fallen world.The story's religious concerns are expressed through a series of motifs and emblems, cleverly muted by O'Connor's superficially naturalistic style.

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