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A Good Man is Hard to Find: What is the Author’s Message?


A Good Man is Hard to Find is a short story that was written by Flannery O’Connor in 1953. Over the years, this story has become a very important tale that aims to answer the question of what it means to be a good person. The story goes about answering this and other questions in a very interesting way, even if it doesn’t answer anything in a straightforward manner.

Because of how impactful the story is, many college students of literature and other subjects are given assignments to write essays on their favorite A Good Man is Hard to Find theme. You can see multiple themes mentioned in the best essays on A Good Man is Hard to Find and then select your favorite one to write about. Such examples of essays written by college students are a great way to get some insight into Flannery O’Connor themes used in the story.

Before writing an essay on it yourself, it is a good idea to go over some of the core messages in the story. It will help you understand the tale a little better and also aid in choosing a theme to write about. But first, let’s go over a quick summary of what the story actually is. 

A Story of a Family and a Convict

The tale follows a family of six as it travels to Florida and comes into contact with an escaped convict. This convict, who addresses himself as the Misfit, is a murderer who is seemingly being tormented by all the injustices that he and mankind, in general, have faced, both in secular and in divine terms. The other main character is the Grandmother who is portrayed as a superficial and morally-flawed woman. The story basically moves around the convict and the family, and various messages and themes are developed. The tone of A Good Man is Hard to Find is that of a dark comedy, as the Misfit, a serial killer, is the only character who actually understands why a good man is hard to find. 

A Good Man is Hard to Find Message and Theme 

·   Goodness

As the title reflects, the main theme revolves around the idea of goodness. In the story, O’Connor does not really answer the question of what it means. Instead, the characters show their own understanding of the concept, alluding to the idea that a person’s goodness is very subjective to another person. The Grandmother, for example, believes that a person who is honest, polite, and respectful is a good person, even though they may manipulate others for their own gain. 

·   Forgiveness and Punishment

One very strong A Good Man is Hard to find Theme is that of forgiveness and punishment. The writer presents a world where punishment which is unjust is normal. This is the truest in the case of the Grandmother who ends up being killed and getting her whole family killed just because she makes the mistake of mentioning that she recognizes the Misfit. She is killed even when she forgives the Misfit for all he has done.

·   Decay of Morality

An important A Good Man is Hard to Find message is that the traditional understanding of morality is not present in the modern world anymore. The Grandmother constantly chastises her grandchildren about various actions, like throwing trash out of the car. And even when there is a gun pointed at her, she insists on the fact that goodness still exists in the world. She is unable to acknowledge that the world does not have a sense of objective morality anymore. On the other hand, the Misfit views himself completely outside the world of morals. He does not deem himself immoral necessarily but instead does whatever he wishes to do with his time.

                    Conflict within the Family

An issue that is prevalent in the entire story but is never openly acknowledged is that of the conflict that runs within the family. Everyone continuously mocks each other and does whatever he or she wants, based on their own individual wishes. There is a disregard for the other members of the family by everyone until they are faced with violence and their true love for each other shows. 


These are just some of the Flannery O’Connor themes you can find in her masterpiece. In many samples of essays written by students on the story, there are many more small details to note. This very varied selection of messages and themes is what makes this such an influential tale that college students are reading to this day. If you want to dwell on some deep questions and ideas, this one is a must-read for all.

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