A Good Man is Hard to Find Symbolism
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Flannery O’Connor’s short story “A Good Man is Hard to Find” is replete with symbolism. From the overtly religious to the mundane, there are few details in the story that do not carry symbolic overtones. A few examples of the symbols in A Good Man is Hard to Find are:
- The Automobile
- The Sky
- The Old House
- The Dirt Road
- The Ditch
- The Woods
- The Grandmother's Death
Much of the story takes place inside the family car. Given that the family will end up dead, the car represents the journey of life. Like the human body that carries the soul, the car carries the family towards their ultimate destination. Life, O’Connor is saying, is frequently headed in one direction, but ends up somewhere entirely different. The grandmother, for example, wants to go to Tennessee, but instead finds herself on the road to Florida, but will never escape Georgia.
Symbolism of Sin
When the family turns off the main road and down the dirt road towards the old plantation house, it is symbolic how people depart from the straight and narrow and lead lives of sin. The family are tempted towards the old house and travel down a road of sin towards a desire. It is only after they are fully immersed in sin that they discover the wages of sin are death.
In the end, the Misfit shoots the grandmother three times, after discussing Jesus and salvation. The number three is heavily symbolic; representing the number of days Christ lay in the tomb before the Resurrection. Through death, the grandmother will find her own salvation and be reborn as she finally discovers her true spirituality just before dying.