Stereotypes In 'A Good Man Is Hard To Find By Flannery O' Connor

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Flannery O'Connor often used common stereotypes in her short stories, only to subvert them later in order to change, or at least make her audience aware of their perception or judgments of people. Flannery O'Connor’s writing style and critique of culture can be a slap in the face to many of her readers. Upsetting her audiences’ expectations and judgments of people seems to be her specialty, and is something that she continuously does throughout her writing. A couple of her characters that exhibit the stereotype subversion that Flannery O’Connor uses are “The Misfit” from A Good Man is Hard to Find, Manly from Good country people, and Mary-Alice from Revelation. These three characters all seem to be a certain type person, and the main character …show more content…
He is an escaped criminal who comes across the family from A Good Man is Hard to Find. Because the grandmother recognizes him, he shoots them all. Before she is shot, the Grandmother pleads with him, begging him to essentially become her perception of a good man, exclaiming, “You’ve got good blood! I know that you wouldn’t shoot a lady! I know you come from nice people” (O’Connor, Good Man 294). This shows the Grandmothers skewed idea of what makes a good man “good”. The Misfit ignores her pleas, and shoots her along with the rest of her family. Because of this, he appears to be just a two-dimensional “baddie” character. But it is discovered that he has some sort of mental disorder, which severely affects his actions and his memory of the crimes that he commits. While conversing with the Grandmother, he says, “I forgot what I done, lady. I set there, and set there, trying to remember what it was I done, and I ain’t recalled it to this day” (O’Connor, Good Man 293). So though he is still a terrible person, and it cannot justify his actions, he is not entirely what he seems to …show more content…
His introduction in the short story and the main characters’ perceptions of him is that he is just a kind, harmless, and dull-witted bible salesman. Near the beginning of the story, even Manly says, “I know I’m real simple. I don’t know how to say a thing but to say it. I’m just a country boy” (O’Connor, Country People 273). It is later discovered that this, and practically everything else that he says, is just a ploy to get both Hulga and Mrs. Hopewell to trust him. Manly appears to be just that, but as it progresses, his actions become increasingly suspicious. When Hulga finds out at the end that he is a scoundrel and a thief, it shakes the audiences’ expectations of “good county people”. Even Hulga, who seems to be the most intelligent character in the story, cannot understand what is happening when she is being betrayed, saying things like “You’re a Christian! You’re a fine Christian!” and “Aren’t you…just good country people?” (O’Connor, Revelation 282). At the time that this story was published, much of Flannery O’Connor’s audience would have held many of the same of “Good Country People” and “good Christians”. So, sharing the same expectation as her characters, when their expectation of the character turned out to be so wrong, it could begin to make them question their own first impressions of

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