The Effective Use of Tone in Flannery O'Connor's A Good Man is Hard to Find

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The Effective Use of Tone in Flannery O'Connor's A Good Man is Hard to Find

Flannery O'Connor's short story, "A Good Man is Hard to Find," begins with a
Southern family preparing to go on what seems to be a typical vacation. The story is humorous at first because the reader is unaware of how the story will end. The tone changes dramatically from amusing to frightening and plays an important part in making the story effective.

The narrator starts the story giving background information about the grandmother and her son, Bailey. The narrator explains that the "grandmother didn't want to go to Florida" (320). Although a major conflict could result from her dislike of the family's choice of vacation spots, it does not. When
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The narrator describes the mother as "a young woman in slacks, whose face was as broad and innocent as a cabbage and was tied around with a green headkerchief that had two points on the top like a rabbit's ears" (320). This is when the humor begins. John Wesley, Bailey's son, asks the grandmother, "If you don't want to go to Florida, why dontcha stay at home?" (320). June Star replies that "She wouldn't stay home to be queen for a day," and goes on to say, "She wouldn't stay at home for a million bucks. Afraid she'd miss something. She has to go everywhere we go" (320). Even though these statements from the children to their grandmother are disrespectful, they do describe her character, as she "was the first one in the car..." the following morning (320).

The story continues to have comical parts as the family continues traveling to Florida until the grandmother remembers of a time when she was young and decides she wants to visit an old home. She tells the children about a house and even lies to them and says that there are "secret panels" (324). They become very excited and Bailey decides to let them go see it and on the way there is when the tone and story line changes.

The children yelled "We've had an ACCIDENT!" and the reader is not sure what will happen next. Shortly after the accident, when the "big black battered hearse-like automobile" pulls up to assist the family and the grandmother recognizes one of the occupants as the Misfit, the tone
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