Prophetic Symbols In A Good Man Is Hard To Find

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Register to read the introduction… Set in the early fifties, "A Good Man Is Hard to Find" tells of the murder of a vacationing Georgia family by an escaped felon called the Misfit. Byars views the Misfit as an apocalyptic symbol because of his adamant denial of Christ and his brutal shooting of the family (37). "The River" has an example of prophetic meaning presented by the religious babysitter, Mrs. Connin, when she refuses to accept money from the cynical and careless parents of Bevel. Byars believes this action displays the belief that God's goodness will show through in some people, even in an evil world (38). David Eggenschwiler identifies an apocalyptic vision in "Good Country People" as the supposedly devout Bible salesman takes advantage of Hulga in the barn and steals her wooden leg. In this bizarre scene, his monstrous behavior rapidly forces the atheistic Hulga to deal with a situation that is far more corrupt than her own beliefs (56-57). Finally, Byars states, "O'Connor peoples her world with terrible apocalyptic beasts, an `old wart hog from hell . . .'" (37). Wart hog is the name that the bigoted Ruby Turpin is called in "Revelation," after she is physically attacked by the angry college student, Mary Grace.

Closely tied to the divine presence in O'Connor's stories are the revelations that are brought about by these events. According to Nathan Scott, Jr., Hulga's revelation in "Good Country People"
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Related to these conflicts is Hugh Holman's opinion that O'Connor's stories display her belief that all stability in the world comes through God, and the tragic soul is one that does not include him (82). The only character in "Good Country People" with a relationship with God is the Bible salesman, but his myth of faith is abruptly shattered near the end of the story. This occurs when he states, "I hope you don't think I believe that crap!" (O'Connor 290). According to Eggenschwiler, the people that gather to hear the preacher in "The River" rely heavily on superstition for their faith. Although the reverend repeatedly promises no miracles, the people continue to have unrealistic expectations of God, as does Bevel when he drowns himself in search of God's Kingdom

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