Study Guide

A Good Man is Hard to Find Family

By Flannery O'Connor

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Besides its more serious themes, "A Good Man is Hard to Find" contains some mercilessly funny comedy about a dysfunctional family, and the ways they get on each other's nerves. You know, the kind of family that could be in a National Lampoon movie? There's the two troublesome and annoying kids, the hot-headed dad who tries to maintain control of a situation and fails, the wife busy attending to the baby, and the grandmother, who's a case all to herself (and also the main character).

Though the story starts out seeming like a comedy, it takes a serious turn when the family encounters a criminal, who kills them one by one. Whether this family members attract any genuine sympathy from the reader, or from each other, or whether they death presents little more than a black comedy is an issue up for debate.

Questions About Family

  1. Is the family in the story a caricature of a family, or are they realistic in certain aspects? Why?
  2. Are there any points in the story at which one of the family members comes across as sympathetic? If so, where are they? If not, why?
  3. Do any of the family members care for each other? If yes, then what evidence can you find in support?
  4. Does the grandmother really about the rest of her family, or is she purely self-interested?

Chew on This

The family in "A Good Man is Hard to Find" is pure caricature.

The grandmother is purely self-interested, and shows little concern for the rest of her family.

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