Short Story #23. A Good Man is Hard to Find (Flannery O’Connor)

Deal Me In Reading Challenge: I drew the two of hearts.

Story: A Good Man is Hard to Find, by Flannery O’Connor.  I didn’t just read it, I listened to the author herself reading it, via YouTube:  But I needed the text as well, as the quality of the recording is not great (it’s from 1959!).  It’s easy to find the text online; whether the one I read is legal or not, I’m not sure, so I won’t link to it!

Comments:  I had never read this story, but I sure had heard about it.  And it was every bit as good as I expected.  I didn’t realise that there were some laugh-out-loud bits, until I heard O’Connor’s listeners actually laughing – that was fun!  And I guess any story as grim as this one needs a bit of comedy thrown in if the reader is not going to be overwhelmed.

On one occasion, many years ago, I was amongst a group of people talking about a particularly vicious criminal who had been caught by the police and was awaiting charges and trial.  One person in the group said that he should be hung, after the terrible things he had inflicted on others.  An older woman said, quietly, “He’s some poor mother’s son, too.”  That remark has stayed with me… I wonder if the speaker had this story in mind when she said it?  Because it certainly reflects one of the key insights in this story, when the grandmother recognises the crazed killer as “one of her children” too.

A brilliant story, where reality is definitely not black and white, but very human, very messy.

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5 thoughts on “Short Story #23. A Good Man is Hard to Find (Flannery O’Connor)

  1. Pingback: Deal Me In – Week 23 Wrap Up | Bibliophilopolis

  2. I worked my way through an entire book of her short stories once for a library discussion group. This was the first one in the book and a lot of the attendees were surprised by the ending. I suspect by the time they’d read through them all that, if this one was at the end, they wouldn’t be so surprised. 🙂

    Thanks so much for sharing the recording too. My post this week also included an link to the author reading her work. I’m always happy when the story I post about is one that can be shared ‘for free’ if readers are interest in experiencing it for themselves.

  3. I’m currently (almost done) reading O’Connor’s novel “The Violent Bear It Away”. It’s every bit as gritty as “A Good Man is Hard to Find”. O’ Connor’s work has continued to intrigue me over the last couple of years. “Human” and “messy” – those were excellent words you used to describe her work.
    -Dale

  4. Ah, I’m glad you enjoyed this. I have it on my Deal Me In list, too. I’m looking forward to it popping up, as while I’ve read the author’s (dark, harsh, yet wonderfully written) novel Wise Blood, I’ve never read any of her short stories.

  5. This is a great one, yes. I remember the helplessness of the grandmother, as everything she thinks she knows about people sort of crumbles around her. She’s built so many of her ideas about goodness on social roles and social order, and the Misfit is such a polite man, in his way…

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