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Cultural Racial Criticism Final

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"I can, with one eye squinted, take it all as a blessing" (O’connor). Flannery O’Connor spoke these words referring to her blessed writing career. O’Connor’s short stories mainly centered on the South because she was born and raised in Savannah Georgia where her family has lived for many generations before her. One of Flannery O’Connor’s most discussed short stories is “A Good Man is Hard to Find” which is a story centered on a family from Georgia with southern values and morals. The family takes a trip to visit the grandmothers old home in Tennessee, little do they know the “Misfit” will be waiting their arrival. On the trip, the grandmother shows her heroine traits by making attempts to divert the “Misfit” from another kill. Racial and cultural criticism is apparent throughout the story as the author makes a myriad of references to southern core values and traditions including region and race. “A Good Man is Hard to Find” by Flannery O’Connor applies the aspects of cultural and racial aspects through word choice, family relationships, and social status.

First, word choice is apparent throughout this short story and it can be analyzed to observe the cultural background. There are many ways in which the reader can suspect this story’s setting takes place in the south. The first quote that reflects the southern culture in the story is, “You all ought to take them somewhere else for a change so they would see different parts of the world and be broad” (O’Connor). In this quote, the grandmother says the word “ought”, which is word combining and in the south word combining is prevelant. If the story took place in the North, then the grandmother would “you should” instead of “you ought”. This quote also represents the southern culture because the grandmother is encouraging travel and to “be broad”. By saying this, the author is showing that the family is not from a large city or town. If the grandmother is encouraging travel, then it shows that the family lives in a desolated area where they do not have the chance to experience other cultures. Another quote that shows word choice is, “Litte niggers in the country don’t have things like we do” (O’Connor). By choosing to use slander when describing the African-American race shows that this family is influenced by southern culture because the South stereotypically is more racist than other parts of the country because slavery was highly used there. By having the family use the word “n*****” and by having them talk down about that race also shows that the family is white. The word choice used in the dialogue of this short story shows the cultural and racial backgrounds.

Secondly, the family relationships in this short story show the cultural aspects. The grandmother in the story was the most significant family member as she took on the most responsibility and made the family decisions. A quote that shows the grandmother’s role in the story is, “The grandmother offered to hold the baby and the children’s mother passed him over to the seat next to her” (O’Connor). This quote shows how the grandmother takes care of the children and is a helping hand in the family. Throughout the entire car ride, the grandmother was trying to keep the children quiet and entertain them which shows how she takes on the responsibility of raising the children. In the south, elders are greatly appreciated and looked to for advice and knowledge. Since the grandmother is the main character in “A Good Man is Hard to Find”, it shows that they follow the southern tradition that the elders are highly respected. Elders are looked upon as people who are kind, wise, and respected. A quote by Thomas Votteler shows that the grandmother fits the elder mold, “The old lady lacked comprehension, but she had a good heart” (Votteler). This fits the mold of an elder because sometimes the eldery cannot comprehend modern ideas, but they still have a good heart and true values and morals. The family relationships in this short story reflect the cultural aspects.

Thirdly, the social status of the family in this short story reflects the cultural aspects. The author makes it obvious that the family is of higher class than the average family. There is a good example of the social status when the grandmother says, “wouldn’t that make a good picture now? She asked and they all turned and looked at the little negro out of the back window” (O’Connor). This shows that the grandmother and her family are of higher social class because she is taking light of the situation that the black child is on the street and poor. They don’t have any sympathy for the lower class and this shows that they are of higher class. This segment of the story also shows their social status because after the grandmother says this quote she begins to comment about how she should take up art classes. The fact that she can so easily take educational classes shows that she is of a higher social class. A secondary source says, “The grandmother did not know that she was not in Tennessee, and was nagging about going to go see an old house from her past” (Hassan). The house that the grandmother was nagging about was a plantation that her family once owned. This also represents the social class of the grandmother because one can infer that she comes from a family of wealth because they owned a plantation. The social class of the grandmother illustrates the cultural aspects within this story.

Conclusively, this story is significant because it shows the reader the aspects of cultural and racial criticism. The story centers on a family who is wealthy and takes a trip to Tennessee where they are greeted by the Misfit. The significance of this story is to show that judging people by their racial or cultural background is immoral. The short story, “A Good Man is Hard to Find”, written by Flannery O’Connor can be critiqued with the choice of words the author uses, the grandmother’s relationship, and the social status.







Works cited
O'Connor, Flannery. A Good Man Is Hard to Find. Print.
Hassan, Zaheya. "A Good Man Is Hard to Find." Teenink.com. Web. 25 Apr. 2011.
"Short Story Criticism." Sunysuffolk.edu. Ed. Thomas Votteler. Web. 26 Apr. 2011.





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