The foreshadowing effect in "A Good Man Is Hard to Find " To foreshadow is to give a hint or a suggestion of a forthcoming event. Flannery O'Connor uses the foreshadowing effect adequately in "A Good Man Is Hard to Find". There were many hints and suggestions that something unpleasant was going to happen in this story. The moment the grandmother first speaks of the misfit, we can assume he will show up later in the story because he is headed in the same direction as the family. Close to the ending, when the gunshots are heard from the woods, we can assume that the situation cannot get much worse. The first hint of trouble comes early in the story before the first paragraph ends.
The grandmother tries to show Bailey a newspaper article about The Misfit, who has escaped the penitentiary and is headed toward Florida. The grandmother tries to discourage Bailey from taking the family to Florida again by telling him he ought to take the children somewhere else for a change, but he disregards his mother and they go on the trip anyway. The probability that an escaped convict is headed in the same direction as Bailey and his family suggests havoc is coming their way. O'Connor describes how the grandmother is dressed and says, "In case of an accident, anyone seeing her dead on the highway would know at once that she was a lady" (221). In my opinion, this phrase suggests that the grandmother could be involved in an accident further into the story. Also, the grandmother cautions Bailey about driving too fast, so this makes me think he is speeding; consequently, this could lead to an accident.
The family arrives at Red Sammy's, so they go inside and are seated at a table. Red Sam comes inside and sighs, "You can't win" he said, "You can't win" (224), and then he goes on to say, "These days you don't know who to trust". (224). The grandmother agrees with Sam and seems to invite a conversation on the topic of trust with him. The subject of trust comes about, so this leads me to believe that something insidious is going to happen within the story. When Sam's wife brought the orders to the table, the grandmother asks the woman about the misfit so the woman comments on how she wouldn't be surprised if the Misfit attacked the barbecue tower.
Whenever the matter of The Misfit is raised again, this suggests to me that the family will come in contact with him sooner or later. After the family is back on the road, the grandmother recalls an old plantation that she had visited when she was a young lady. She and the children manage to persuade Bailey to turn around and look for the dirt road where the plantation was located. Once on the dirt road, the situation starts to seem perilous.
O'Connor describes the road as hilly with sudden washes and sharp curves on dangerous embankments. She says, .".. the car raced roughly along in a swirl of pink dust" (226). She also noted that", The road looked as if no one had traveled on it in months" (226). In the way O'Connor describes the road, she lets us know it is a dangerous and deserted one; therefore, leading the reader to believe that something harmful is going to happen, just as it did.
After the accident, the family notices an automobile, resembling a big, black, hearse with three men inside. When I imagine a black hearse on a deserted road with three occupants, I perceive something terrible will happen because this scenario is not normal. O'Connor describes the fashion in which these men are dressed and it certainly is not what an undertaker would wear. She also points out that the men have guns; therefore, I presume the family has finally met The Misfit and his counterparts.
Lastly, the way in which the woods are described and the fact that gunshots are heard after Bailey and his son are taken to the woods, leads the reader to believe that the whole family is going to die and their bodies left in the woods. In my opinion, the foreshadowing effect can either make or break a story, it can hint too much or not enough. The foreshadowing in this story was very effective because everything that O'Connor suggested seemed to happen just as I thought it would; however, the element of surprise was still present. There was not an over-abundance of hints in this story but they were not scarce either. From the newspaper article about The Misfit, to the gunshots heard from the woods, the foreshadowing effect in this story was done exceptionally well.