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A Good Man is Hard to Find and Other Stories

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A Good Man is Hard to Find and Other Stories Cover

ISBN13: 9780156364652
ISBN10: 0156364654
Condition: Standard
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Excerpt

A Good Man Is Hard to Find

 

The grandmother didnt want to go to Florida. She wanted to visit some of her connections in east Tennessee and she was seizing at every chance to change Baileys mind. Bailey was the son she lived with, her only boy. He was sitting on the edge of his chair at the table, bent over the orange sports section of the Journal. “Now look here, Bailey,” she said, “see here, read this,” and she stood with one hand on her thin hip and the other rattling the newspaper at his bald head. “Here this fellow that calls himself The Misfit is aloose from the Federal Pen and headed toward Florida and you read here what it says he did to these people. Just you read it. I wouldnt take my children in any direction with a criminal like that aloose in it. I couldnt answer to my conscience if I did.”

 

           Bailey didnt look up from his reading so she wheeled around then and faced the childrens mother, 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 rabbits ears. She was sitting on the sofa, feeding the baby his apricots out of a jar. “The children have been to Florida before,” the old lady said. “You all ought to take them somewhere else for a change so they would see different parts of the world and be broad. They never have been to east Tennessee.”

 

           The childrens mother didnt seem to hear her but the eight-year-old boy, John Wesley, a stocky child with glasses, said, “If you dont want to go to Florida, why dontcha stay at home?” He and the little girl, June Star, were reading the funny papers on the floor.

 

           “She wouldnt stay at home to be queen for a day,” June Star said without raising her yellow head.

 

           “Yes and what would you do if this fellow, The Misfit, caught you?” the grandmother asked.

 

           “Id smack his face,” John Wesley said.

 

           “She wouldnt stay at home for a million bucks,” June Star said. “Afraid shed miss something. She has to go everywhere we go.”

 

           “All right, Miss,” the grandmother said. “Just remember that the next time you want me to curl your hair.”

 

           June Star said her hair was naturally curly.

 

           The next morning the grandmother was the first one in the car, ready to go. She had her big black valise that looked like the head of a hippopotamus in one corner, and underneath it she was hiding a basket with Pitty Sing, the cat, in it. She didnt intend for the cat to be left alone in the house for three days because he would miss her too much and she was afraid he might brush against one of the gas burners and accidentally asphyxiate himself. Her son, Bailey, didnt like to arrive at a motel with a cat.

 

           She sat in the middle of the back seat with John Wesley and June Star on either side of her. Bailey and the childrens mother and the baby sat in front and they left Atlanta at eight forty-five with the mileage on the car at 55890. The grandmother wrote this down because she thought it would be interesting to say how many miles they had been when they got back. It took them twenty minutes to reach the outskirts of the city.

 

           The old lady settled herself comfortably, removing her white cotton gloves and putting them up with her purse on the shelf in front of the back window. The childrens mother still had on slacks and still had her head tied up in a green kerchief, but the grandmother had on a navy blue straw sailor hat with a bunch of white violets on the brim and a navy blue dress with a small white dot in the print. Her collars and cuffs were white organdy trimmed with lace and at her neckline she had pinned a purple spray of cloth violets containing a sachet. In case of an accident, anyone seeing her dead on the highway would know at once that she was a lady.

 

           She said she thought it was going to be a good day for driving, neither too hot nor too cold, and she cautioned Bailey that the speed limit was fifty-five miles an hour and that the patrolmen hid themselves behind billboards and small clumps of trees and sped out after you before you had a chance to slow down. She pointed out interesting details of the scenery: Stone Mountain; the blue granite that in some places came up to both sides of the highway; the brilliant red clay banks slightly streaked with purple; and the various crops that made rows of green lace-work on the ground. The trees were full of silver-white sunlight and the meanest of them sparkled. The children were reading comic magazines and their mother had gone back to sleep.

 

           “Lets go through Georgia fast so we wont have to look at it much,” John Wesley said.

 

           “If I were a little boy,” said the grandmother, “I wouldnt talk about my native state that way. Tennessee has the mountains and Georgia has the hills.”

 

           “Tennessee is just a hillbilly dumping ground,” John Wesley said, “and Georgia is a lousy state too.”

 

           “You said it,” June Star said.

 

           “In my time,” said the grandmother, folding her thin veined fingers, “children were more respectful of their native states and their parents and everything else. People did right then. Oh look at the cute little pickaninny!” she said and pointed to a Negro child standing in the door of a shack. “Wouldnt that make a picture, now?” she asked and they all turned and looked at the little Negro out of the back window. He waved.

 

           “He didnt have any britches on,” June Star said.

 

           “He probably didnt have any,” the grandmother explained. “Little niggers in the country dont have things like we do. If I could paint, Id paint that picture,” she said.

 

           The children exchanged comic books.

 

           The grandmother offered to hold the baby and the childrens mother passed him over the front seat to her. She set him on her knee and bounced him and told him about the things they were passing. She rolled her eyes and screwed up her mouth and stuck her leathery thin face into his smooth bland one. Occasionally he gave her a faraway smile. They passed a large cotton field with five or six graves fenced in the middle of it, like a small island. “Look at the graveyard!” the grandmother said, pointing it out. “That was the old family burying ground. That belonged to the plantation.”

 

           “Wheres the plantation?” John Wesley asked.

 

           “Gone with the Wind,” said the grandmother. “Ha. Ha.”

 

           When the children finished all the comic books they had brought, they opened the lunch and ate it. The grandmother ate a peanut butter sandwich and an olive and would not let the children throw the box and the paper napkins out the window. When there was nothing else to do they played a game by choosing a cloud and making the other two guess what shape it suggested. John Wesley took one the shape of a cow and June Star guessed a cow and John Wesley said, no, an automobile, and June Star said he didnt play fair, and they began to slap each other over the grandmother.

 

           The grandmother said she would tell them a story if they would keep quiet. When she told a story, she rolled her eyes and waved her head and was very dramatic. She said once when she was a maiden lady she had been courted by a Mr. Edgar Atkins Teagarden from Jasper, Georgia. She said he was a very good-looking man and a gentleman and that he brought her a watermelon every Saturday afternoon with his initials cut in it, E. A. T. Well, one Saturday, she said, Mr. Teagarden brought the watermelon and there was nobody at home and he left it on the front porch and returned in his buggy to Jasper, but she never got the watermelon, she said, because a nigger boy ate it when he saw the initials, E. A. T.! This story tickled John Wesleys funny bone and he giggled and giggled but June Star didnt think it was any good. She said she wouldnt marry a man that just brought her a watermelon on Saturday. The grandmother said she would have done well to marry Mr. Teagarden because he was a gentleman and had bought Coca-Cola stock when it first came out and that he had died only a few years ago, a very wealthy man.

 

           They stopped at The Tower for barbecued sandwiches. The Tower was a part stucco and part wood filling station and dance hall set in a clearing outside of Timothy. A fat man named Red Sammy Butts ran it and there were signs stuck here and there on the building and for miles up and down the highway saying, try red sammys famous barbecue. none like famous red sammys! red sam! the fat boy with the happy laugh. a veteran! red sammys your man!

 

 

Copyright © 1955 by Flannery OConnor

Copyright 1954, 1953, 1948 by Flannery OConnor

Copyright renewed 1983, 1981 by Regina OConnor

Copyright renewed 1976 by Mrs. Edward F. OConnor

 

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording, or any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher.

 

Requests for permission to make copies of any part of the work  should be submitted online at www.harcourt.com/contact  or mailed to: Permissions Department, Harcourt, Inc., 6277 Sea Harbor Drive, Orlando, Florida 32887-6777.

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Average customer rating based on 3 comments:

HisGrrlSaturday, October 22, 2014 (view all comments by HisGrrlSaturday)
Flannery O'Connor didn't mess around. She wasn't afraid to take you gently by the hand and lead you slowly into darkness, then leave you there on your own to work out the complexities of the human existence.
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mjensen38, August 8, 2014 (view all comments by mjensen38)
I wholeheartedly agree with the inclusion of this book in the list of 25 must-read books. Dark, dark humor and matter-of-fact horror on every page. Flannery O'Connor is my go-to author when nothing else sounds good to read. I highly recommend reading her collected letters for some real insight into her life.
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Marilyn Stachenfeld, July 29, 2008 (view all comments by Marilyn Stachenfeld)
Flannery O'Connor writes like no one else. Until I read a collection of her letters and got some understanding of her judgment of her characters--she judges them on a scale of spiritual honesty--I was puzzled by her writing. Now I am just thrilled by the mind that could create such unconventional (mostly Southern) people and put them through so many spins of the wheel. I can't put down any one of her stories in the middle.
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Product Details

ISBN:
9780156364652
Author:
O'Connor, Flannery
Publisher:
Mariner Books
Location:
San Diego, Calif.
Subject:
General
Subject:
Fiction
Subject:
Social life and customs
Subject:
Classics
Subject:
Novels and novellas
Subject:
Literature
Subject:
Southern states
Subject:
Southern States Social life and customs Fiction.
Subject:
General Language Arts & Disciplines
Subject:
Short stories
Subject:
Southern States Social life and customs.
Subject:
Literature-A to Z
Copyright:
Edition Number:
1st Harvest/HBJ ed.
Edition Description:
Harvest/HBJ
Series:
Harvest/HBJ Book
Series Volume:
46
Publication Date:
September 1977
Binding:
TRADE PAPER
Grade Level:
from 9
Language:
English
Illustrations:
Y
Pages:
276
Dimensions:
8 x 5.31 in 0.56 lb
Age Level:
from 14

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A Good Man is Hard to Find and Other Stories Used Trade Paper
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Product details 276 pages Mariner Books - English 9780156364652 Reviews:
"Staff Pick" by ,

Flannery O'Connor's first short story collection, written in 1955, will knock you off your feet. Ruthless, penetrating, and loaded with subtext, A Good Man Is Hard to Find and Other Stories was brave for its time and feels just as consequential today. Writing in the Southern Gothic tradition in a style wholly her own, O'Connor creates characters that are misguided, stunted curiosities, but she manages to capture what's human in even the most despicable of people — which makes their doomed trajectories feel all the more tragic. And despite the disturbing events that unfold, the stories are a pleasure to read — they're infused with suspense, dark humor, and some of the most evocative imagery you'll encounter in literature. All this makes for a collection that never ceases to amaze — and begs to be reread.

"Review" by , "O'Connor's works, like Maupassant's, are characterized by precision, density, and an almost alarming circumscription....In these stories the rural South is, for the first time, viewed by a writer whose orthodoxy matches her talent. The results are revolutionary."
"Review" by , "Much savagery, compassion, farce, art, and truth have gone into these stories. O'Connor's characters are wholeheartedly horrible, and almost better than life. I find it hard to think of a funnier or more frightening writer."
"Synopsis" by , The collection that established O'Connor's reputation as one of the american masters of the short story. The volume contains the celebrated title story, a tale of the murderous fugitive "The Misfit," as well as "The Displaced Person" and eight other stories.
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