Flannery O'Connor: The Master of Symbolism

Essay by pudortuCollege, UndergraduateA+, March 2006

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The writings of Flannery O'Connor may seem bitter and detached, as well as harsh and violent, to the uneducated reader. Her stories usually end in bizarre and grotesque ways. In actuality, her stories are filled with deep meaning and symbolism, veiled in plain sight (Silliman). She was a master at using symbolism in her work; the following stories attest to this fact. She used symbolism to further enhance the themes of "A Good Man is Hard to Find," "Greenleaf," and "Revelation."

Within the story "A Good Man is Hard to find" is much symbolism. Both the characters and the scenery represent something. The father is the anti-hero (Silliman). He represents the everyman, a hard-working, middle-class father of three. No matter how hard he tries, he can't get ahead in life. The mother represents the woman's role of housewife in the South at that time. The narrator doesn't even tell us her name.

She is just there to cook and care for the children. Even her injuries are overlooked after a severe car wreck. The grandmother represents the way things used to be: morals, respect and values. The children are the exact opposite of the grandmother. They talk back to their elders, show no respect, and are very rude. The Misfit, much like the children, represents the lack of values and morals in the society of the day.

There is also much symbolism in the scenery of the story, most of which symbolizes death. The Misfit drives a black, hearse-like automobile and, there are six

graves at the old family plot, the same number of people in the car. There is no sun in the sky, and the woods are compared to a gaping mouth symbolizing an opening to Hell

(Silliman). All of these represent death and foreshadow what...