I Illustrate your argument
E Explain the illustration
L Link to the next argument Irony is an important feature in many great works of fiction. Irony allows many great writers to imply their meanings rather than openly stating them. Certainly Flannery O’Connor uses irony repeatedly in her superb short story “A Good Man Is Hard to Find.” In this story, O’Connor describes a family from Georgia who go on a vacation trip to Florida and unexpectedly meet a killer named The Misfit along the way. He slaughters them all. As she tells this story, O’Connor uses plentiful examples of irony.
S - In fact, the very first sentence is ironic.
I - In this sentence, the narrator states that “The grandmother did not want to go to Florida” (678).
E - This statement is ironic for several reasons. In the first place, the grandmother is later the first one in the car, heading toward Florida. In addition, the remark is also ironic because the family never in fact make it to Florida. Finally, if they had not gone to Florida, they would never have been killed.
L - In addition,
S - O’Connor uses ironic statements to characterize the grandmother and foreshadow the grandmother’s tragic end.
I - The narrator tells us that the grandmother was very particular about her appearance so that “in case of an accident, anyone seeing her dead on the highway would know at once she was a lady” (679). The grandmother dresses carefully with a white collar and cuffs and a white hat complete with a spray of violets and a sachet.
E - The irony in this statement is twofold. First, the grandmother is very careful about her appearance “in case” she were to die along the roadside, which she never truly expected; she was using this as an excuse to dress up and prove herself superior to the rest of her family (particularly her daughter-in-law who wore slacks). However, death along the roadside is exactly what happens to the grandmother, and the violets on her hat do not change her final fate. The second part of this irony is that when The Misfit finally shoots her, she is bedraggled, dirty, crumpled, and no longer the picture of a lady. When her body is found (if it ever is), her body will not be identified as that of a lady. She will look no better than any of the rest of her family’s decayed corpses.
L - The concept of appearances and the irony attached to it plays an important role in “A Good Man is Hard to Find.”
S – The grandmother’s foolish ideas about people’s appearances and the importance she places on appearances lead us to some of the most ironic moments in the story.
I - The grandmother recognizes The Misfit from the photograph she had seen of him in the Journal, and she has read up on all his crimes; but she still says, “I know you’re a good man. You don’t look a bit like you have common blood. I know you must come from nice people.” She continues a little later, “I know you are a good man at heart. I can just look at you and tell” (685).
E - The irony here is that the grandmother knows The Misfit is not a good man. In fact, she has read and knows exactly what kind of man he is, but she cannot reconcile The Misfit’s appearance and manners with the reported brutality of his crimes. She also makes these statements to him as an attempt at flattery. Because she places such value on appearance, she believes that this criminal would appreciate her noting that he does not look