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Free Study Guide-A Good Man Is Hard To Find by Flannery O'Connor-Free
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A GOOD MAN IS HARD TO FIND

THE ARTIFICIAL NIGGER

CHARACTERS

Nelson

A boy, about ten, who is a little smartass. he lives with his grandfather because his mother has died, and no one knows who his father is and his grandmother is dead too. He is at the mercy of his grandfather, who always thinks he knows better because he's had a lot of experiences, but Nelson has picked up the old man's superior attitude and gives him a bad time.

Mr. Head

Nelson's grandfather, who thinks he will teach Nelson a lesson by taking him to the city and showing him how evil it is. He is old and cranky and directive, and not too smart. He can never admit when he is wrong.

CONFLICT

The boy and his grandfather go to the city and get lost, and in their fear they alienate each other completely.


Protagonist and Antagonist

To over simplify the story, Nelson could be seen as the protagonist and Mr. Head the antagonist. Both of them have something at stake, and something to learn. At the outset, Nelson is hopeful about his trip, while Mr. Head is holding out for scaring Nelson away from the city forever.

Climax

When Mr. Head plays a trick on Nelson, the boy panics and runs down the street and crashes into an elderly lady. She says she will sue, and calls for a policeman. Mr. Head denies knowing Nelson, and walks on. Nelson is hurt beyond belief at his grandfather's denial, and it is questionable whether he will ever forgive his grandfather. Mr. Head is entirely distraught at what he has done.

Outcome

The two walk on, still lost, still not speaking, and see a statue, an "artificial nigger." They stare in amazement. They can both join in on their bigotry and relief at seeing something completely unthreatening to them. They construct a new kind of camaraderie, and go on home, safe together. Mr. Head is relieved at having been granted the mercy of Nelson's regard returned to him, and Nelson is glad to never go to the city ever again.

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Free Study Guide-A Good Man Is Hard To Find by Flannery O'Connor-Free
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