A Good Man Is Hard to Find

by: Flannery O’Connor

June Star

“She wouldn’t stay at home to be queen for a day,” June Star said without raising her yellow head. . . . “She wouldn’t stay at home for a million bucks. . . . Afraid she’d miss something. She has to go everywhere we go.”

June Star, a rude but clever girl, knows her grandmother will never skip the family road trip despite her many expressed objections about the destination, Florida. Here, she explains why: The grandmother likes getting out and can’t cope with the idea of missing out. She addresses her remarks ostensibly to her brother, but the rest of the family hears them. As nobody chastises her for her rudeness, June Star may be expressing a generally held family opinion.

June Star said play something she could tap to so the children’s mother put in another dime and played a fast number and June Star stepped out onto the dance floor and did her tap routine. . . . “I wouldn’t live in a broken-down place like this for a million bucks!” and she ran back to the table.

The family stops at a barbecue joint. After June Star performs a tap dance, the restaurant owner’s wife compliments her, saying, “Would you like to come be my little girl?” Here, June Star replies and insults the restaurant and, by extension, the woman. Moments later, the grandmother tells June Star she should be ashamed of her rudeness, but June Star was simply being honest as she has not yet learned the art of the polite lie.

June Star hung over her mother’s shoulder and whined desperately into her ear that they never had any fun even when on their vacation, that they could never do what THEY wanted to do.

June Star and John Wesley have both been loudly and obnoxiously demanding a side trip. Here, June Star’s assertion that the family never does what the children want to do is belied by the mother’s silence and the father’s quick acquiescence. This scene reveals the family’s inner functions, however. Moments before June Star demands a side trip, the grandmother mentioned how close they were to the house with the secret panel. June Star doesn’t realize her grandmother used June Star to get what she wanted. The grandmother understands her son might easily ignore his mother’s wishes, but he’d never say no to his daughter, June Star.

She was sitting against the side of the red gutted ditch, holding the screaming baby, but she only had a cut down her face and a broken shoulder. “We’ve had an ACCIDENT!” the children screamed in a frenzy of delight. “But nobody’s killed,” June Star said with disappointment as the grandmother limped out of the car[.]

The children, June Star and John Wesley, experience the car accident as a moment of excitement because the event included potential danger but not, as far as they could tell, actual danger. In this scene, June Star fails to recognize her mother’s pain because she has not yet developed empathy for others, probably because she has never experienced any real suffering yet in her short life. June Star’s and John Wesley’s words also reveal their lack of understanding of life and death, showing that they are true innocents.

“I don’t want to hold hands with him,” June Star said. “He reminds me of a pig.” The fat boy blushed and laughed and caught her by the arm and pulled her off into the woods after Hiram and her mother.

Even after all of the harrowing events, June Star still expresses herself honestly. Here, her only complaint about going into the woods concerns her guide’s appearance. Clearly, June Star does not realize that her father and brother have been murdered and she will soon die as well. June Star’s honesty, which came off as rudeness at the beginning of the story, seems like chutzpah at the end. However, her words don’t reflect bravery; they simply reveal that she is blessedly unaware of her fate.