A cranky old woman who lives with her son, Bailey, and his wife and two children. She is preoccupied with appearances and snobby about "common people."
The Misfit (A Good Man Is Hard to Find)
A serial killer who has escaped from the Federal Penitentiary. The Grandmother reads about him in the newspaper as the story begins, and later he murders her after his sidekicks, Hiram and Bobby Lee, have murdered Bailey and his family. He tells The Grandmother that he has been a gospel singer, in the armed service, twice married, and undertaker, and a railroad worker. "His hair was just beginning to gray and he wore silver-rimmed spectacles that gave him a scholarly look. He had a long creased face."
Bailey (A Good Man Is Hard to Find)
The father of June Star and John Wesley, who is impatient with his family. He is murdered in the woods with his son by Bobby Lee and Hiram.
John Wesley (A Good Man Is Hard to Find)
Bailey's 8-year-old son who is bratty and bickers with his sister, June Star. He and his father are shot in the woods by Hiram and Bobby Lee.
June Star (A Good Man Is Hard to Find)
Bailey's daughter and John Wesley's sister who is rather ornery and fights with her brother. She is murdered with her mother in the woods by Hiram and Bobby Lee.
The Mother (A Good Man Is Hard to Find)
Described as "a young woman in slacks, whose face was as broad and innocent as a cabbage." She is murdered in the woods along with June Star and her youngest baby by Hiram and Bobby Lee.
Red Sammy Butts (A Good Man Is Hard to Find)
The proprietor of The Twoer, where the family stops for barbecued sandwiches. He chats with The Grandmother about The Misfit and the terrible state of the world, concluding that, "A good man is hard to find."
Red Sammy's Wife (A Good Man Is Hard to Find)
A "tall burnt-brown woman with hair and eyes lighter than her skin" who takes the family's order when they stop to eat lunch at The Tower. June Star insults her by making fun of the run-down building.
Bobby Lee (A Good Man Is Hard to Find)
One of The Misfit's sidekicks who murders the entire family. He is "a fat boy in black trousers and a red sweat shirt," who reminds June Star of a pig.
Hiram (A Good Man Is Hard to Find)
One of The Misfit's sidekicks who murders the entire family. He wears khaki pants, a blue striped coat, and a gray hat.
Tom Shiftlet (The Life You Save May Be Your Own)
A "gaunt figure" missing half of one arm, he tricks the elder Lucynell Crater into giving him her car to marry her mentally handicapped daughter. "His face descended in forehead for more than half its length and ended suddenly with his features just balanced over a jutting steel-trap jaw." He tells the Lucynell Craters that he is twenty-eight years old and that he has worked as a gospel singer, a foreman on the railroad, an assistant in an undertaking parlor, a radio performer, and worked in the military.
Lucynell Crater, the mother (The Life You Save May Be Your Own)
An old woman who lives with her mentally handicapped daughter, also named Lucynell Carter, with "long pink-gold hair and eyes as blue as a peacock's neck" and no teeth. She is tricked into giving Tom Shiftlet her car because he says he will marry her daughter.
Lucynell Crater, the daughter (The Life You Save May Be Your Own)
A mentally handicapped woman of thirty who lives with her mother. She is large physically and a deaf-mute. She is abandoned at a restaurant called The Hot Spot after Tom Shiftlet convinces her mother to give him their car.
The Hitchhiking Boy (The Life You Save May Be Your Own)
A boy in overalls and a gray hat is picked up by Tom Shiftlet after he abandons the younger Lucynell Crater at The Hot Spot. Tom Shiftlet goes on about how his mother is better than the boy's, and eventually the boy jumps out the passenger door into a ditch.
Harry (The River)
Harry is four or five years old with "a long face and bulging chin and half-shut eyes set far apart." His babysitter, Mrs. Connin, takes him to be baptized in the river by Bevel the preacher, even though he is raised by atheist parents. The next morning, he goes back to the River and drowns himself in an attempt to find God.
Mrs. Connin (The River)
Harry's babysitter, who takes him to the river to see Bevel the preacher perform miracles and to be baptized. She has four children, J.C., Spivey, Sinclair, and Sarah Mildred.
Harry's Mother (The River)
She is nameless, to emphasize how absent she is from Harry's life, as well as her distance from Grace. She has "a long pale face, smooth and blank, and straight sweet-potato-colored hair."
Harry's Father (The River)
He is impatient and nameless, to emphasize his distance from Grace. As he sends Harry off with Mrs. Connin, he is rude and annoyed to be up so early in the morning.
Bevel (The River)
The preacher who baptizes Harry in the river. He is "a tall youth" with "light-colored hair cut in sideburns that curved into the hollows of his cheeks."
Mr. Paradise (The River)
He is a skeptic of Bevel the preacher, since Bevel has failed to heal him. He is a "huge old man" with "a purple bulge on his left temple." Mrs. Connin tells Harry that Mr. Paradise has "cancer over the ear," and that he always comes to the healing at the river to show that he hasn't been healed. At the end of the story, he witnesses Harry drown himself in the river, but cannot save the boy.
Mrs. Shortley (The Displaced Person)
Hired help at Mrs. McIntyre's farm, along with her husband and her two daughters. She is rightly threatened by the new help, Mr. Guizac, because she is as racist toward Poles as she is toward black people. She is paranoid in general and has no faith in God. She dies as the family drives away from the McIntyre farm.
Mrs. McIntyre (The Displaced Person)
Runs the farm she inherited from her late husband, The Judge. Since then she has had two other husbands, but she feels the Judge's presence constantly and intensely. She is paranoid and impatient about the help that she hires to work on the farm. She is described as "a small woman of sixty with a round wrinkled face and red bangs that came almost down to two high orange-colored penciled eyebrows. She had alittle doll's mouth and eyes that were a soft blue when she opened them wide but more like steel or granite when she narrowed them to inspect a milk can."
Mr. Shortley (The Displaced Person)
Married to Mrs. Shortley and works on the McIntyre farm as the dairyman. He has "a sharply rutted face containing a washout under each cheek and two long crevices eaten down both sides of his blistered mouth." He makes whiskey illegally on the McIntyre land. He survives his wife's death, but often feels that he himself is dead.
Mr. Guizac (The Displaced Person)
He has been relocated from Poland to work on Mrs. McIntyre's farm; he is "the displaced person." "Short and a little sway-backed," he is a mechanic, carpenter, mason, and "thrifty and energetic," clean, and doesn't smoke. Mrs. McIntyre becomes suspicious of him and fires him after the Shortleys quit.
Father Flynn (The Displaced Person)
About eighty years old, he brings Mr. Guizac and his family to the McIntyre farm. When she decides to fire the Guizacs, Mrs. McIntyre's paranoid anxiety is contrasted to the priest's composure. He is described as having "a big nose and a bald rectangular face and head."
Astor (The Displaced Person)
The oldest black worker on the McIntyre farm. The white characters think he and the other black workers are lazy, but he exhibits his sharp mind and sensibility when he says to Mrs. McIntyre, "Black and white is the same." He is "cinnamon-colored with eyes that were so blurred with age that they seemed to be hung behind cobwebs."
The Judge (The Displaced Person)
Mrs. McIntyre's late husband, from whom she inherited the farm. He never appears as a character in the story, but he lingers in her mind and influences her decisions. He replaces God for her, and she repeats his maxims about the devil rather than following God's teachings. He is described as "a dirty snuff-dipping Court House figure, famous all over teh county for being rich, who wore hightop shoes, a string tie, a gray suit with a black stripe in it, and a yellowed panama hat, winter and summer. His teeth and hair were tobacco-colored and his face a clay pink pitted and tracked with mysterious prehistoric-looking marks as if he had been unearthed among fossils."
Sulk (The Displaced Person)
The young black farmhand at the McIntyre farm. He is an accomplice in Mr. Guizac's murder, since he does not interfere as the tractor rolls over the Polish man's body and snaps his spine.
The Child (A Temple of the Holy Ghost)
A homely twelve-year-old girl who is, at first, prideful and spiteful. It is revealed that she acts this way in order to protect herself, when she is in fact quite vulnerable and desperate for attention.
Joanne (A Temple of the Holy Ghost)
One of the child's fourteen-year-old cousins who attends Mount St. Scholastica and is visiting the child for the weekend. She has acne and "yellow hair that was naturally curly but she talked through her nose and when she laughed, she turned purple in patches."
Susan (A Temple of the Holy Ghost)
One of the child's fourteen-year-old cousins who attends Mount St. Scholastica and is visiting for the weekend. She is "very skinny but she had a pretty pointed face and red hair."
Miss Kirby (A Temple of the Holy Ghost)
A boarder at the home of the child, she is "a long-faced blonde schoolteacher" who is easily embarrassed and being courted by Mr. Cheatam.
Mr. Cheatam (A Temple of the Holy Ghost)
The butt of the child's joke when she suggests that her cousins spend time with him during their visit. He is Miss Kirby's admirer, "a rich old farmer who arrived every Saturday afternoon in a fifteen-year-old baby-blue Pontiac powdered with red clay dust and black inside with Negroes that he charged ten cents apiece to bring into town on Saturday afternoons." He is bald and ugly, with a face that is "nearly the same color as the unpaved roads and washed like them with ruts and gulleys."
The Mother (A Temple of the Holy Ghost)
The child's mother does not have many marking characteristics. She seems to be patient with her daughter, and hopes to entertain the visiting cousins during their stay by setting them up with the neighborhood boys.
Alonzo Myers (A Temple of the Holy Ghost)
He picks up Joanne and Susan from Mount St. Scholastica and drives them to the child's home for their visit. He is an obese eighteen-year-old boy who drives a taxi.
Wendell and Cory Wilkins (A Temple of the Holy Ghost)
Neighborhood boys who come to spend time with Joanne and Susan during their visit. They are "short thin boys with red faces and high cheekbones and pale seed-like eyes," and are intimidated by the girls' religious recitations.
The hermaphrodite (A Temple of the Holy Ghost)
Susan and Joanne see the hermaphrodite at the fair and tell the child about their experience that night. The hermaphrodite says, "God made me thisaway and if you laugh He may strike you the same way. This is the way He wanted me to be and I ain't disputing His way."
Mr. Head (The Artificial Nigger)
A sixty-year-old man with "a long tube-like face with a long rounded open jaw and a long depressed nose" and a strong character. He is Nelson's grandfather and takes him into the city in order to convince him that it is a terrible place and that he ought to stay in the country. While there, he betrays Nelson after Nelson accidentally breaks a woman's ankle, denying that he knows the boy.
Nelson (The Artificial Nigger)
A young boy who has never been to Atlanta, although his grandfather lied to him and told him that he was born there. He has also never encountered a black person. "The boy's look was ancient, as if he knew everything already and would be pleased to forget it," although he "was a child who was never satisfied until he had given and impudent answer." He accidentally collides with a woman carrying groceries and injures her; when Mr. Head finds him, he betrays him by denying that he knows him. However, Nelson forgives him and they leave Atlanta again on the train.
Mrs. Freeman (Good Country People)
An employee of the Hopewells for four years, who can “never be brought to admit herself wrong on any point.” She likes to discuss her daughters, Carramae and Glynese, and Mrs. Hopewell finds her annoying.
Mrs. Hopewell (Good Country People)
Hulga’s mother, who still refers to her daughter as Joy, and who is divorced from her husband. She is described as having “no bad qualities of her own but she was able to use other people’s in such a constructive way that she never felt the lack.”
Hulga (Good Country People)
A thirty-two-year-old blonde woman, the daughter of Mrs. Hopewell, who is highly educated with a Ph.D. in philosophy. She lost her leg in a hunting accident when she was ten, and she has an artificial wooden leg, which she reveres in place of any religious faith. Her “constant outrage had obliterated every expression from her face,” however, she is moved by Manley’s seduction and makes herself vulnerable to him.
Manley Pointer (Good Country People)
He poses as a Bible salesman, but is really a swindler. He seduces Hulga and steals her wooden leg, abandoning her in the barn loft. “He was a tall gaunt hatless youth,” and Mrs. Hopewell believes him to be from “good country people.” As he abandons Hulga, he reveals that his real name is not Manley Pointer.
Asbury Porter Fox (The Enduring Chill)
A twenty-five-year-old aspiring writer who has fallen ill. When he arrives in Timberboro, “his left eye was bloodshot. He was puffy and pale and his hair had receded tragically for a boy of twenty-five. The thin reddish wedge of it left on top bore down in a point that seemed to lengthen his nose and give him an irritable expression that matched his tone of voice.”
Mrs. Fox (The Enduring Chill)
Asbury’s mother, who is sixty years old and bewildered by his condition. She has faith in Doctor Block.
Mary George (The Enduring Chill)
Asbury’s sister, who has no patience for him. She is very large in size and eight years his elder. She works as the principal of the county elementary school.
Father Finn (The Enduring Chill)
The priest Asbury requests to visit him. He has “a large red face, a stiff brush of gray hair,” and he tells Asbury he is blind in one eye and deaf in one ear.
Doctor Block (The Enduring Chill)
The doctor Mrs. Fox trusts to treat Asbury, whom Asbury resents and thinks is stupid. He is “irresistible to children,” with “a round face as senseless as a baby’s.” He eventually discovers that Asbury is, in fact, not dying.
Goetz (The Enduring Chill)
Asbury’s friend from school who is never physically present in the story, but about whom Asbury thinks often. He has a “purple-splotched face” and has spent six months in Japan. He does not believe in life after death, but has taken Asbury to a lecture on Vendanta, about whom he learned in Japan, to no avail.
Morgan and Randall (The Enduring Chill)
The two black farmhands with whom Asbury believes he shared a meaningful moment while smoking a cigarette in the barn together the year before. However, when he asks that they visit him during his illness, he is disappointed by their insistence that he looks fine.
Julian (Everything That Rises Must Converge)
Julian has gone to a “third-rate college” and wants to be a writer, but instead he is living at home and selling typewriters. He lives with his mother, whom he finds insufferable in her pitying, cloying racism.
Julian's Mother (Everything That Rises Must Converge)
Julian’s Mother (Everything That Rises Must Converge): She is the object of her son’s intense resentment, especially for her classism and racism. She is proud of him for having gone to college, and he would prefer that she be outwardly horrible rather than seeming to be kind. She has a stroke after being knocked down by the black woman to whose son she has tried to give a coin.
Carver (Everything That Rises Must Converge)
The little boy who boards the bus with his mother. Although she is racist and he is black, Julian's mother thinks he is cute and tries to give him a coin. Her interactions with him, clearly derogatory, are enough to incite his mother to knock her down.
Carver's Mother (Everything That Rises Must Converge)
She is a big black woman with a face that seems "set out not only to meet opposition but to seek it it out." She is clearly upset by Julian's mother's interactions with her son, Carver, and when Julian's mother offers him a coin, it is the last straw. She knocks Julian's mother to the sidewalk and runs away.
Sheppard (The Lame Shall Enter First)
"A young man whose hair was already white" with a "pink sensitive face" who works as the City Recreational Director. He takes Rufus Johnson into his home in an attempt to save the boy, who has been in and out of the reformatory and has a club foot. However, in the process, he neglects his own son, Norton.
Norton (The Lame Shall Enter First)
Sheppard's ten-year-old son who commits suicide at the end of the story in an attempt to see his mother in heaven. "He had very large round ears that leaned away from his head and seemed to pull his eyes slightly too far apart," and is easily impressionable.
Rufus Johnson (The Lame Shall Enter First)
A fourteen-year-old boy whose father died before he was born and whose mother is in jail. He has been in and out of the reformatory, and takes Sheppard up on the offer to stay at his house. However, tensions arise when he begins teaching Norton, Sheppard's son, about the Bible. He has a club foot and does not want to fix it because, as it says in the Bible, "the lame shall enter first."
Mrs. Turpin (Revelation)
An overweight, 47-year-old woman with "little bright black eyes." She considers herself to be above those in lower social strata since she and her husband, Claud, own a home and land with a hog farm. She is physically attacked by Mary Grace in the doctor's office waiting room, and later has a revelation stemming from Mary Grace's accusation that she is "an old wart hog."
Claud Turpin (Revelation)
Mrs. Turpin's husband, he is "florid and bald and sturdy" and does whatever Mrs. Turpin tells him to do. He has an ulcer on his leg that makes it nearly impossible for him to walk
The dirty child (Revelation)
The son of the white-trash mother, he slumps in his seat and is lethargic with illness. His mother prefers him that way so that he won't be so troublesome to her. He is blond and wears "a dirty romper" and is the only one who does not react to Mary Grace's attack on Mrs. Turpin.
Mary Grace (Revelation)
A "fat girl of eighteen or nineteen," Mary Grace attends Wellesley College in Massachusetts, much to the chagrin of her mother. She wears a permanent scowl. Eventually, she throws the book she is reading at Mrs. Turpin's face and then attacks her.
The white-trash woman (Revelation)
A "lank-faced," dirty woman whose lips are stained with snuff. She annoys Mrs. Turpin by declaring that she does not understand why a person would own hogs, and by her general appearance and demeanor.
Mary Grace's mother (Revelation)
The gray-haired, well-dressed woman shares a bond with Mrs. Turpin because they are the only two women in the dressing room of the same social class. The looks they exchange imply a judgment of the other characters. She is embarrassed by her daughter's rudeness and negative disposition. She talks about Mary Grace as if she weren't there, saying that she is ungrateful for all the things in her life and that she can't take criticism.
Flannery O'Connor’s Stories Questions and Answers
The Question and Answer section for Flannery O'Connor’s Stories is a great
resource to ask questions, find answers, and discuss the novel.
Southern gothic fiction is a subgenre of gothic fiction, focusing on the American South. It is similar to gothic fiction. Supernatural or unusual events usually guide the plot. Unlike Gothic fiction, however, instead of there being a monster, the...