Mistrust, religion, dysfunctional families, and death are all topics that come up at one time or another during Fannery O’Connor’s symbolic tales “ Good Country People” and “ A Good Man is Hard to Find”. “ Good Country People” is a story about a simple mother, her 30 year old daughter who likes being miserable, and the man that steals her leg and teachers her a lesson in life. “ A Good Man is Hard to Find” is a story about a dysfunctional family who goes on vacation and are killed on the way there by an escaped convict named the Misfit. Flannery O’Connor’s GCP and GMHF, although they may seem different, have very common traits within them including the setting, the characters and the structure.
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“ Good Country People” and “ A Good Man Is Hard To Find” both have very similar settings in their stories. First off, both take place in the South. “ I see you ain’t many of them figs you put up last summer” (2112) is said by Mrs. Freeman in GCP and shows the southern kind of talk that takes place in the story. “ I wouldn’t talk about my native state that way. Tennessee has the mountains and Georgia has the Hills” (118) is said by the grandmother from GMHF in response to her grandson making fun of Georgia. This obviously shows that the story takes place in the South. Another common trait of GCP and GMHF is that they both happen in the past. Flannery O’Connor wrote both of these stories in the 1950’s and they were considered modern stories of the time. The last thing that the two stories have in common is that they both take place in a rural area. “ Mrs. Hopewell and Mrs. Freeman, who were in the back pasture, digging onions” (2125) is a quote from GCP that describes how the story takes place in the country. “ All at once they would be on a hill looking down over the blue tops of trees for miles around” (124) from GMHF describes the huge forests of the rural setting in the story.
As like the setting, the story’s characters also have very common similarities. Once such similarity is that in these stories the male characters are very disgruntle. In GCP, Manley Pointer first appears to be a kind country man who sells bibles, but by the end of the story he turns out to be a bad guy who steals Hulga’s wooden leg. Likewise in GMHF the male characters are also very grumpy. “ Will you all shut up? Will you all just shut up for one second? If you don’t shut up, we won’t go anywhere” (123).
This is said by Bailey while driving the car. The Kids were yelling so he stops the car and starts yelling back at them. Not only are the males disgruntle, but the kids in both stories are also very disturbed. Hulga from GCP, although she is grown up, isn’t very nice and wasn’t much better as a child. Her original name was Joy but as soon as she turned twenty-one she changed it to Hulga because of how rotten it sounded. “ She had arrived at it first on the basis of its ugly sound” (2114). Similar to GCP the kids in GMHF are also very angry. The reason for the father getting mad and yelling at the kids as stated earlier in this paragraph is because the kids were being obnoxious and rude. “ The children began to yell and scream that they wanted to see the house with the secret panel. John Wesley kicked the back of the seat and June Star hung over her mother’s shoulder and whined desperately into her ear” (123).
The last similarity between the two stories is the structure of them. Firstly, the exposition of the stories both start off by introducing the characters and describing them very well. In GCP Mrs. Freeman, Mrs. Hopewell, and Joy are all presented and plenty of background information is given about them. Likewise in GMHF the grandmother, Bailey, the children’s mother, June Star, and John Wesley are all introduced and described well. The second similarity the structure has to do with the complications. In both stories the conflict come from a male who isn’t presented till later in the story. In the first story, Manley Pointer doesn’t appear till after the exposition and he ends up being the bad guy of the story. In GMHF the Misfit doesn’t actually appear till the later part of the story and he end up being the bad guy who kills the family. The last thing that the two stories have in common is the climax of the story.
Both stories have very ironic endings and the bad guy all ways seems to get the last word. The GCP story started off as a story about a mother and daughter on a farm and ends up being about a guy who steals Hulga’s leg and teaches her a lesson about what to believe in. “ When she turned her churning face toward the opening, she saw his blue figure struggling successfully over the green speckled lake” (2125). This passage from GCP describes Manley as he gets away successfully after stealing the fake leg from Hulga. The GMHF story seems like it is going to be a story about a family and the vacation that they take, but ends up being about a family getting killed a guy named the Misfit. As in GCP with Manley Pointer, the Misfit also gets away without being caught.
So as you can see the two stories “ Good Country People” and “ A Good Man is Hard to Find” have very similar characteristics including the setting, characters and structure. So although two stories may seem very different there always seems to be something that can link them together.