“A Good Man Is Hard to Find”: The Element of Suspense
The element of suspense in the story of O’Connor’s “A Good Man is Hard to Find,” is definitely present in its interior. It is not just a story about a family of six with Grandmother presented as evil. Although it is indeed true that neither her intellect nor grace is comparable to that of Misfit, there is something special about her that makes her not solely a negative character (O’Connor 97). This special lies not on the surface but in the interior of the story, on the level that can be called Divine and invisible for a superficial reader. The Christian view of the world makes the story deeper and leaves this element of suspense after the final encounter between the Grandmother and Misfit. The seconds before her death, she opens her heart for compassion and thus, not only demonstrates this ‘good heart’ but appears to influence Misfit as well. At the end of the narrative, he admits that the violence does not give him pleasure. As O’Connor states herself, the violence in her story is a way to make the characters ready to accept their moment of grace (98). The suspense of the story remains in the possible beginning of Misfit’s transformation. Moreover, it is not only about Misfit as a character but about humanity as a whole. Therefore, the suspense lies in the inner self of the Grandmother and its ability to affect other antagonists and the world.
O’Connor, Flannery. Excerpt from “On Her Own Work”: The Element of Suspense in “A Good Man Is Hard to Find”. Critical Casebook, 1963.