FLANNERY O’CONNOR’S A GOOD MAN IS HARD TO FIND A Stylistic Review
The purpose of this paper is to present stylistic review of Flannery O Connor’s short story, A Good Man Is Hard to Find. It is one of her many short stories, though actually she also writes some novels. O Connor writes this short story from a third person narrator and tells the short story from the perspective of the grandmother, a main character. This story is a blending of humor and tragedy; it is a family whose vacation does not end happily ever after.
This story is started when the grandmother does not want to go to Florida. She wants to visit some of her connections in east Tennessee and she tries to change Bailey’s mind. Bailey is the son she lived, her only boy. Bailey has a wife, and three children, John Wesley, June Star, and the Baby. On their trip, the grandmother, does not let the cat to be left alone in the house although Bailey does not permit him. In the middle of the trip they meet the misfit, after they got an accident. Actually is the grandmother who gets the family lost, and eventually killed. In the end, A Good Man Is Hard to Find can not be told from the grandmother’s limited point of view, because she is dead, and dead have no actions or thoughts.
O Connor’s language in this story can drive us to analyze it stylistically, since there are many words, phrases, sentences, and utterances, which are related to some stylistic terms, such as figurative language, puns, creativity, stylistic deviation, and word play. For further understanding, it is better to analyze each of the term separately.
1. Figurative Language
Figurative language is used not in the literal sense but in an imaginative way. It is more connotative rather than denotative. According to wren and Martin in Siswantoro (2003: 24), figurative language is “ a departure from the ordinary form of expression or the ordinary course of ideas in order to produce a greater effect.”
As a language, comparison, contrast and associations identify figurative language. In A Good Man Is Hard to Find, there is a figurative language based on comparison, they are Simile and personification.
Simile is an explicit comparison, which is usually indicated by such connections such as like, as as, similar to. It is used by O Connor when she describes the children’s mother, “ …whose face was as broad and innocent as a cabbage.” It is also can be found when Bailey does not permit the children to enter the house where there is a secret panel as the grandmother said, “ His jaw was as rigid as a horse-shoe.” To describe Red Sam’s performance, O Connor also uses simile, “…his stomach over…like a sack of meal swaying under his shirt.” O' Connor description of the misfit’s car “It was a big black battered-like automobile” is also smile. Then when the family got an accident and they meet the misfit, there is a sentence that belongs to simile, “Behind them the line of woods gaped like a dark open mouth.” The last simile is when Bailey feels both as blue and intense as the parrots in his shirt… ”
Personification is either inanimate object or an abstract concept is spoken of as though it were endowed with life or with human attributes of feelings. In simpler words, personification is a figurative language in which a thing, an animal, or an abstract term (truth, nature) is made human.
O' Connor use personification in the sentence “…the dust coated trees looking down on them.” It is to strengthen where there is no other except them, but only trees existed there. The trees as inanimate object are animated by wearing coat in the form of dust. The trees then looking down on them that literally of course it is impossible.
2. Syntactic deviation
To distinguish between the many different types of grammatical deviation, it is well to start with differentiation between morphology and syntax. Morphological deviation is of course related to the grammar of the word. While syntactical deviation is related to the grammar of how word pattern within sentences.
In the short story A Good Man Is Hard to Find I only analyze some sentences which appropriate to join with syntactical deviation. June Star, addressing the grandmother, said “ Afraid she’d miss something. She has to go everywhere we go.” By syntax rule, it must be “She’s afraid if (that) she’d miss something”, though longer but it is syntactically correct. Then when Re Sam tells the grandmother about some fellers, he said, “Said they worked at the mill and you know I let them fellers charge the gas they bought?” There are two syntactical deviations in this sentence. First, the word said must be put after subject they, except if it is imperative statement. The phrase them fellers is impossible since them is an object pronoun, while fellers is an abject, well, it should be the fellers. This rule is also similar to the case them children.
3. Word –Play
Below are some words in the short story A Good Man Is Hard to Find that play on similarity of pronunciation:
reckernized = recognized
pre-chate = appreciate
twict = twice
hep = hope
wisht = wish
thow = throw
thown = thrown
ast = ask
oncet = once
thataway = that way
Below are some words in the short story A Good Man Is Hard to Find that play on similarity of meaning; in this case the words are informal:
dontcha = don’t you
gonna = going to
pop = father/daddy
smack = kiss
britches = breeches (trousers)
bucks = dollars
whatcha = what you
4. Punning Repetition
In the puns, two or more senses are actually suggested by a single occurrence of the ambiguous sequence if sounds. But a double meaning can also be brought to one’s attention by a repetition of the same sequences, first in one sense and then in another.
Actually this punning repetition in the short story A Good Man Is Hard to Find has similar concept with free verbal repetition. In A linguistic Guide to English Poetry, it is written that free repetition of form means the exact copying of some part of a text, whether word, phrase, or sentence, since if there were merely a partial repetition, this would meant to a parallelism. Traditional rhetoric distinguishes two categories of free repetition: immediate repetition or EPIZEUXIS (e.g. “come away, come away, death”) and intermittent repetition or PLOCE. PLOCE is especially associated with the pregnant repetition of an item in different sense.
In A Good Man Is Hard to Find there are also these two kinds of repetition. Sentences that belong to the intermittent repetition are:
• The next morning the grandmother was the first one in the car… she sat in the middle of the back seat with… Bailey and the children’s mother and the baby sat in the front… with the mileage on the car at…(page 276)
• I been most everything, been in the arm service, … been twict married, been an undertaker, been with the railroads, been in a tornado…(page 285)
• … I had of been there, … I would of known… I had of been there. I would of known…(page 288). Actually this passage also belongs to syntactic deviation since preposition of should be omitted.
Immediate repetition also can be found when Red Sam conversed with the grandmother. He said, “You can’t win” twice in a moment. Then it also occur when the children whined to Bailey to stop the car in front of the secret panel house, Bailey said, “will you all shut up? Will you all just shut up for a second? …”
Leech (1968: 24) stated that a writer might be said to use language creatively [a] if he makes original use of the established possibilities of the language; and [b] if he actually goes beyond those possibilities, that is, if he creates new communicative possibilities, which are not really in the language.
In A Good Man Is Hard to Find, O' Connor makes some creative sentences in the form of negation; she tries to write some sentences with filly negative words. For instance, Red Sam’s wife’s words, “ I don’t count nobody out of that, not nobody,” “ I wouldn’t be none surprised to see him.” Then in Red Sammy’s word “Not no more.” The misfit also said, “ Don’t see no sun but don’t see no cloud neither,” “ nobody had nothing I wanted.”
The other creativities made by O' Connor is abbreviation, such as yes’m for yes mam, co’colas for coca colas, Nome for No mam.
At last this paper is just a review. Hence there are still many other stylistic problems, which can be revealed. But from those five stylistic terms, hopefully it can be useful for the next other review.
Handschuh, Judith. 2004. A Good Man Is Hard to Find. http:// bookreporter.com/reviews/015636454.asp (data retrieved on June 3, 2004)
Iswalono, Sugi.2003. Telaah Puisi Inggris. Yogyakarta: unpublished
Leech, Geofrey N. 1968. A Linguistic Guide to English Poetry. London: Longman
Shakespeare, William.1959. Julius Caesar. London: Longman
Siswantoro.2002. Apresiasi Puisi-Puisi Sastra Inggris. Surakarta: Muhammadiyah University Press
Sudjiman, Panuti.1993. Bunga Rampai Stilistika. Jakarta: grafiti.