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Painting A Portrait Of Death

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Shelly Moy

M. Regan


October 10, 2002

"Painting a Portrait of Death"

Death is inevitable to all forms of life. In giving birth to a typical family, Flannery O'Connor immediately sets the tone for their deaths, in the story, A Good Man is Hard To Find. O'Connor's play on words, symbolism and foreshadowing slowly paves the way for the family's death.

O'Connor begins to paint the image of death with her presentation of the grandmother. As the family prepares for their adventure the grandmother carefully selects her attire. "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" (O'Connor 267). The imagery of the grandmother's impeccable attire foreshadows her position at the end of the story. When a person dies it is common that they are adorn in their best outfit. The grandmother has symbolically prepared herself for her eternal rest in a coffin as she is dressed in her Sunday best. O'Connor continues to incorporate the theme of death into the story, as she provides the readers with the reason for the grandmother's ensemble, "in cares of an accident, anyone seeing her dead on the highway would know at once she was a lady" (O'Connor 267). Symbolically the grandmother is walking down the path of death.


As the family travels closer to death, O'Connor creates an intense setting, foreshadowing the family's future. As the family continues to drive towards their final destination, "They passed a large cotton field with five or six graves fenced in the middle of it, like a small island" (O'Connor 268). O'Connor purposely places "five or six" graves in that area to symbolize each of the family members. This scene foreshadows that all of the family members are put to death in a completely isolated area, surrounded by the thickness of nothing. The grandmother tells the family, "That was the old family burying ground. That belonged to the plantation" (O'Connor 268). Not only does her quote symbolize that their whole family will soon lay their, but it allows the son to inquire, "Were's the plantation" (O'Connor 268). The grandmother responds, "Gone With the Wind" (O'Connor 268), this symbolically representing each of the family members at the end of the story as their souls have been let loose and set free like the wind.

By illustrating play on words, O'Connor continues to maintain the trend of death. The town where the family meets their fate is brilliantly noted, Toombsboro" (O'Connor 270). Two deadly words are excreted from the town's name, tomb and bury. The meaning of the town enhances a foreshadowing quote from the misfit. The grandmother asks, "What did you do to get sent to the penitentiary that first time?" (O'Connor 276). The Misfit's answer slyly enhances the meaning of the town's



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