In “A Good Man Is Hard To Find”, O’Connor introduces the reader to a family representative of the old and new Southern culture. The grandmother represents the old South by the way in which she focuses on her appearnace, manners, and gentile ladylike behavior. O’Connor writes “her collars and cuffs were organdy trimmed with lace and at her neckline she had pinned a purple spray of cloth violets containing a sachet. In case of an accident, anyone seeing her dead on the highway would know at once that she was a lady”(O’Connor 118). In this short story, “the wild diproportion of the terms, the vapid composure that summons up the ultimate violence only to treat it as a rare social opportuinty, and the cool irony with which O’Connor presents the sentence makes it both fearful and ludicrous”(Asals 132). The irony that O’Connor uses points out the appalling characteristics of the grandmother’s self-deception that her clothes make her a lady and turns it into a comic matter. Flannery O’Connor goes to great length to give the reader insight into the characters by describing their clothes and attitudes. The fact that the grandmother took so much time in preparing herself for the trip exemplifies the old Southern tradition of self-presentation and self-pride. The grandmother takes pride in the way she presents herself because she wants everyone to know that she is a “lady”. Bailey’s, the grandson’s, family represents that of the new Southern culture that is more open to change, but they are not totally receptive to change. O’Connor describes the children’s mother in contrast to the grandmother by what they are wearing; thus their clothes represent the age from which they are. The Children’s mother “still had on slacks and still had her head tied up in a green kerchief, but the grandmother had on navy blue straw sailor hat with a bunch of white dot in the print”(O’Connor 118). The children’s mother is representative of the New South in which the Southern Lady is becoming less of a central figure within society. A lady of the old south would never wear slacks and tie her hair up in a kerchief to go out in public. Under an old south mentality these actions would be considered very unlady like. O’Connor illustrates the tension between the old and the new south by the constant struggle between the grandmother, her son, and the daughter-in-law. O’Connor also poses the contrast between the old and new South in her short story “Good Country People”. Mrs. Hopewell and Mrs. Freeman represent the old South because of the way in which they carry themselves and their traditional beliefs and values. Mrs. Freeman works for Mrs. Hopewell who states “the reason for her keepin her so long was that they were not trash. They were good country people”(O’Connor 272). Mrs. Hopewell describes Mrs. Freeman and her two daughters as “two of the finest girls she knew and Mrs. Freeman was a lady and that she was never ashamed to take her anywhere or introduce her to anybody they might mett”(O’Connor 272). In contrast to Mrs. Freeman and Mrs. Hopewell, Joy/Hulga represents the new south that is not concerned with self presentation in the way that the grandmother is in “A Good Man Is Hard TO Find”. Joy/Hulga did not care to participate in the morning gossip between the older ladies. O’Connor describes Joy/Hulga’s disregard for the old south and its sense of manners: When Hulga stumped into the Kitchen in the morning (she could walk without making the awful noise but she made it–Mrs. Hopewell was certain–because it was ugly-sounding), she glanced at them and did not speak. Mrs. Hopewell would be in her red kimono with her hair tied around her head in rags. (275) O’Connor juxtaposes Joy/Hulga to her mother, Mrs. Hopewell, by contrasting her mannerism, clothes, and overall demure. Joy/Hulga is described as making awful noises in contrast to her mother whom is sitting in her red kimono across the kitchen from her. Mrs. Hopewell’s name is symbolic of her very hopeful and optimistic nature. Joy’s changing her name to Hulga represents her renouncing of the old Southern traditions imposed by her mother. Joy/Hulga does not conform to the social codes of the old south because she deliberately makes grotesque and unlady like noise and does not apologize for them. Joy/Hulga is “forced by her physical disabilities to live at home, the girl’s existence has become one continuous of outraged rejection of the life around her”(Asals, 103). Joy/Hulga is also set apart from the old south because she has obtained a PH. D. in philosophy. O’Connor writes Mrs. Hopewell thought it was nice for girls to go to school to have a good time but Joy had “gone through”. … The girl had taken the Ph. D. in philosophy and this left Mrs. Hopewell at a complete loss. You could say, “My daughter is a nurse,” or “My daughter is a schoolteacher,” or even, “My daughter is a chemical engineer. ” You could not say, “My daughter is a philosopher”. (276) Mrs. Hopewell feels that it is unlady like to pursue an education that far, but Joy/Hulga disregards this old southern sexist attitude about women and education. Joy/Hulga thinks she has “defined a self that is the antithesis of her mother’s”(Asals 104). Education and mannerisms of the old and new south are not the only contrasting views that Flannery O’Connor explores in these two short stories. Christianity and fallen human nature are two other aspects that bring depth and ironic twists to “A Good Man Is Hard To Find” and “Good Country People”. In both stories, O’Connor explores the ideals and hypocrisies of the Christian religion and faith. Within O’Connor’s writings, the traditional Christian themes of “fall and redemption, nature and grace, sin and innocence” are explored (Bleikasten 138). In “A Good Man Is Hard To Find”, O’Connor questions the faith and beliefs in Christianity of the grandmother. At the closing of the story, when the grandmother is facing her own death, the Misfit says: Jesus was the only One that ever raised the dead … and he shouldn’t have done it. He thrown everything off balance. If He did what He said, then it’s nothing for you to do but throw away everything and follow Him, and if He didn’t, then it’s nothing for you to do but enjoy the few minutes you got left the best way you can–by killing somebody or burning down his house or doing some other meanness to him. O’Connor 132) The Misfit’s view illustrates the active presence of an Evil force within the society. The grandmother assumed that if you came from “good people” that you would naturally be a “good person”. In contrast to this view of the old south, O’Connor presents the reader “with a world haunted by the sacred–a sacred with two faces now distinct and opposed, now enigmatically confused: the divine and the demonic”, and “in her fables the battleground where these two antagonistic powers confront each other and fight for possession of each man’s soul”(Bleikasten 139). The grandmother represents the active and faithful Christian servant, and the Misfit is symbolic of the devil or an Anti-Christ figure. Despite all of the good deeds that the grandmother has accomplished, God is not there to help her in her time of need. The old southern and traditional secular view was that good deeds would lead to a good life, but O’Connor recognizes that there is also an active force of Evil and presence of the Devil in this world. O’Connor’s antisecular and antiindividualistic views are also present in her short story “Good Country People”. Within this short story, the reader is presented with two differing views of religion: the devout Christian and the atheist. The devout Christians, Mrs. Hopewell and Mrs. Freeman, represents the old south as does the grandmother in “A Good Man Is Hard To Find”. O’Connor criticizes the old southern Christian for being faithful and trustful in “A Good Man Is Hard To Find”, yet the reader the does not quite know what to make of the ending in “Good Country People”. The story ends with the atheist being decieved by one who pretends to be a Christian. O’Connor could be presenting the reader with the view that one is not able to really tell the difference between “good country people” and Christian or liars and cheats. “Good Country People” can be read as exploiting the idea that one is not able to tell the difference between Christians and non-Christians based on their appearance and actions. The old south puts their trust and hopes into appearances, while the new south is more reluctant and cautious. This is not to say that they cannot be decieved because the reader sees what happens to Joy/Hulga in the end. Joy/Hulga is an atheist who dismisses all Christian beliefs by saying “in my economy … I’m saved and you are damned but I told you I didn’t believe in God”(O’Connor 286). She compares her realization to the Christian salvation by saying “we are all damned … but some of us have taken off our blindfolds and see that there’s nothing to see. It’s a kind of salvation”(O’Connor 288). Joy/Hulga believes that she is saved from the hypocrisies of the Christian faith, and she represents the new south because she is open to different interpretations. She feels that she as been saved from Christianity, but O’Connor raises the question: is she really saved at all? Joy/Hulga sets off to seduce Pointer, the Bible salesman, and “she imagined that she took his remorse in hand and changes it into a deeper understanding of life”(O’Connor 284). Ironically, it is Pointer that teaches Joy/Hulga the lesson that needs to be learned. He turns on her and steals her wooden leg. In a fit of rage Joy/Hulga bursts out “‘You’re a Christian! ‘ … ‘You’re a fine Christian! You’re just like them all–say one thing and do another. ‘”(O’Connor 290). Joy/Hulga is not able to tell the difference between him and Mrs. Hopewell and Mrs. Freeman. She feels that by setting herself apart from Christianity she is saved from its pitfalls and hypocrisies. In reality, she is not saved from it at all. Pointer returns her comment saying “‘I hope you don’t think … that I believe in that crap! I may sell Bibles but I know which end is up and I wasn’t born yesterday and I know where I am going! ‘”(O’Connor 290). O’Connor presents the reader with a critique of religion and Christianity in both of her stories. Joy/Hulga beleives that all Christians are the same, but O’Connor points out that there are all types. Pointer pretends to be a Christian in order to prey off of their needs and insecurities. Joy/Hulga is taken in by his charming and trustworthy persona, but she is unable to see his false motives. “Good Country People” points out that people do not always prove to be who they portray. The reader is left doubtful and questions the idea of naturally “good” people and questions value of the Christian faith. While critizing the Christian faith and practices, O’Connor also raises the issue of fallen human nature. The Misfit in “A Good Man Is Hard To Find” and Pointer in “Good Country People” both represent a character of fallen human nature. O’Connor explores the idea of fallen human nature. The Misfit comes from a good family, and he states “God never made a finer woman than my mother and my daddy’s heart was pure gold”(O’Connor 127). O’Connor questions how someone from such a “good family” can turn out to be so evil? Fallen human nature is one explanation posited. The Misfit retorts the grandmother’s argument that he is a good man saying, “Nome, I ain’t a good man … but I ain’t the worst in the world neither”(O’Connor 128). He has the self-realization that he is not a good person. He does not know where it is that he went wrong, but he states, “I never was a bad boy that I remember of … but somewhere along the line I done something wrong and got sent to the penitentiary. I was buried alive”(O’Connor 130). The Misfit admits that he was once good, but he is unable to determine the source of his fallen human nature. O’Connor presents us with another character in “Good Country People” of fallen human nature. Pointer does not argue that he was once good; instead, he tells Hulga, “you ain’t so smart. I been believing in nothing ever since I was born! “(O’Connor 291). Pointer’s character illustrates that one can be born with a fallen human nature, or he is made that way by society from the time he is born. In contrast to the Misfit’s fallen human nature that comes about when he is older, Pointer began falling the day he was born. The idea of fallen human nature is contrasting to the ideas of the old south. Good country people” were assumed to always be “good”, and the old south also thought “bad” people were born that way. O’Connor posited the idea that the society in which one lives can influence a person to change. The Misfit was raised by “nice folks”, and the old south would have assumed that he would be nice. The grandmother repeatedly argues that “I know you came from nice people! “(O’Connor 132). Bailey, the grandmother’s son, realizes the situation that they are in, and he knows that the Misfit is not a nice person. In “Good Country People”, Pointer portrays himself as a “good country person”, and he states, “I’m as good as you any day in the week”(O’Connor 290). Pointer dismisses the old south’s view that there are good people in this world, and he argues that he is not a bad person. O’Connor explicitly explores the themes of Christian theology through Pointer and the Misfit in “A Good Man Is Hard To Find” and “Good Country People”. In addition, she presents the reader with the differing generations of the old and new south, and she illustrates the ontrasting views between the two. O’Connor is not afraid to question Christian theology or the Southern culture. Her irony and satire add depth to ther stories, and her deep cultural analysis of the South brings a higher level to her writings. O’Connor also explores the concept of fallen human nature and how it is brought about. Overall, O’Connor’s works prove to be very in depth in both her social and cultural analysis of the South. She is not afraid to critique the society in which she grew up and lived. Bibliography Asals, Frederick. Flannery O’Connor: The Imagination of Extremity. Athens, Georgia: The University of Georgia Press, 1982. Bleikstan, Andre. “The Heresy of Flannery O’Connor”. Critical Essays on Flannery O’Connor. Ed. Melvin J. Friedman and Beverly Lyon Clark. Boston: G. K. Hall & Co. , 1985. Friedman, Melvin J. Introduction. Critical Essays on Flannery O’Connor. Ed. Melvin J. Friedman and Beverly Lyon Clark. Boston: G. K. Hall & Co. , 1985. O’Connor, Flannery. The Complete Stories of Flannery O’Connor. New York: The Noonday Press, 1971.
Flannery O’Connor consistently references religion and its effects on American culture in her short stories. Her Catholic upbringing influences almost all her fiction, often paired with Postmodernism themes of dark imagery and skepticism. Although she often has a harsh portrayal of religion, Flannery’s point of view on religion itself isn’t critical.
Rather, she criticizes any set of ignorant American morals, including Atheism. Moreover, her morally flawed characters often face a crisis that gives them clarity and truth in their beliefs: A moment of grace. O’Connor wished to reveal that America’s moral susceptibility to gullibility, poor judgment, and blind faith could be redeemed, but ultimately the destruction it causes may be irreversible. Throughout her short story A Good Man is Hard to Find, O’Connor ponders the moral journey of an old southern grandmother and parallels this to possible consequences of America’s undeniable culture of valuing ignorant beliefs. A family travelling by car to Florida gets into an accident, which becomes deadly when an escaped convict called The Misfit comes across the scene. Because the Grandmother recognizes him from a news report, he and his band of convicts decide to execute the entire family.
The Grandmother remains nameless in the story, which is significant in that a nameless character can represent a generic group, such as superficial Christians prevalent in the South during the late 20th century. Her religious beliefs are weak and merely surface level, as she constantly lies to her family and believes in the power of her dress and Southern manners to prove her religious piety and superiority; and she disguises her racism in kindly condescension (Boudreaux 151). Certain of the superiority of her rather half-baked Southern Christian morals, the Grandmother believes that she has the right to judge the goodness of others. When stopped at Red Sammy’s gas station and BBQ, she declared that Red Sammy is good because he let two strangers charge their gasoline on credit, leading to him be robbed of payment. This is significant, as O’Connor emphasizes how these Southern morals praise those who trust blindly, as opposed to valuing actual good qualities such as compassion or honesty. Flannery O’Connor allows the Grandma’s beliefs to be her downfall against the Misfit, emphasizing that feigned goodness can be more treacherous than genuine evil.
Although at first glance the Misfit’s code of violence seems senseless, it is the grandmother’s code that proves to be inconsistent and feeble in comparison. This irony emphasizes that compared with her hollow faith in Jesus”whom she invokes only to save her own life”the Misfit’s agnosticism is nearly admirable (Boudreaux 151). The grandmother naively calls him a good man, however; this only spotlight how her moral compass is skewed and based on customary and thoughtless morals handed down to her from the old South. Her reasoning rests almost entirely on race and class, as she claims that he doesn’t have common blood and therefore won’t shoot a lady (O’Connor pg). Her inability to judge character leads her to be vastly wrong about the Misfit. Ultimately, when the Misfit confronts her religious beliefs and challenges her to think deeply about whether Jesus was able to raise the dead, the Grandmother’s faith crumbles.
She is easily led down the garden path and is quick to agree with his skepticism, revealing that she has merely accepted the Southern construct of faith that she had been fed unquestioningly and weakly. Behind it is nothing of substance. Ironically, when the Misfit challenges the merit of customary religion, his deep thought creates a consistent yet evil moral code that proves to hold more substance than the Grandmother’s fake goodness. From his experiences as a convicted criminal, he has proven to himself that all religion is pointless and is faithful to his own code No pleasure but meanness (O’Connor pg). Despite his moral code being crude and violent, it never waivers, and therefore triumphs as true in the end. O’Connor uses this to drive home the point that imitation of goodness without genuine thought and consideration cannot prevail over evil. Flannery wished to reveal America’s susceptibility to poor judgment due to blindly following beliefs rather than cultivating deep understanding. O’Connor’s second over-arching theme is the cost of redemption, for both Grandma and America itself.
Gaining clarity and truth in faith through violent situations are important in Christian references, as when we reflect that in religion grace and salvation often come through violence or the threat of violence”Abraham leading Isaac up the hill of sacrifice, the early martyrs, not to mention the Passion itself”we can accept the grandmother’s redemption at the muzzle of a gun (Boudreaux 151). The Grandmother, moved by the Misfit’s genuine search for truth about Jesus, exclaims Why you’re one of my babies. You’re one of my own children (O’Connor pg). God finally grants her clarity before she is shot, her compassionate revelation that all humans are children of god despite race or class, despite what she had blindly believed beforehand. However, the grandmother’s moral journey comes with significant destruction and may in fact be too late as readersmay be forgiven for wondering whether the grandmother’s redemption is worth the lives of four people (Boudreaux 151).
Fallout 3, a retro post-apocalyptic open world video game, addresses these overarching themes with a character very similar to the Grandma in A Good Man is Hard to Find. The game allows its story to be driven by the good, bad, and ugly of American values. In an alternate technologically advanced 1950’s American society, nuclear war broke between China and America over Communism, and what was once two global superpowers became two big apocalyptic wastelands. One particular bomb in Washington D.C. fell but didn’t explode, and The Church of the Children of Atom, a cult that worships the undetonated atomic bomb, grew and centered their life gullibly around its radioactive presence. The cult itself it ties into O’Connor’s overarching theme, as it shows the consequences of America’s undeniable culture of valuing ignorant beliefs. In the game dark Christian imagery evokes references to actual cults that have appeared in American History and reflects O’Conner’s postmodernism cynical outlook. In Fallout 3, you interact with Mother Maya, who is similar to the Grandma in that she falls victim to her blind beliefs and is susceptible to poor judgement. Raised in the nuclear town and married to the sinisterly charismatic leader of the cult, confessor Cromley, she never questioned or deeply contemplated her absurd beliefs.
Certain of her moral superiority, she also believes that she is the right person to judge your goodness. However, upon agreeing with her air of reverence for atom when she says Atom’s power penetrates us all, does it not? Soon, every soul will revel in His glory ( Fallout 3), she incorrectly senses your goodness and allows you into the cult (which you plan to destroy). This lapse in judgment mirrors the Grandmother declaring that Red Sammy is a good man merely because his blind trust and values are aligned with her own. Similarly, upon choosing the option to instead confront Mother Maya’s religious beliefs and challenge her to think deeply about whether the bomb can cause harmful radiation, Mother Maya’s faith crumbles. Much like the Grandma who is quick to agree with the Misfit’s skepticism, she too realizes that she merely accepted the construct of faith that she had been fed unquestioningly and weakly. Now unable to infiltrate the cult, you can convince her to detonate the bomb and see the truth for herself. In what is perceived as a moment of grace and clarity, before she leaves, she admits It saddens me to think how quickly we believe in things” (Fallout 3).
Paralleling the Grandma’s moral journey, her redemption comes too late and with mass destruction and loss of life. Today, America’s susceptibility to poor judgment due to blindly following dogma rather than deeply held beliefs is a rampant and relevant subject. As a culture, we too often value blind trust, as opposed to treasuring actual good qualities such as truthfulness. Fake news is spread like wildfires on Facebook and other better social media. Americans are prone to believing headlines and praising the news source as good for having agendas that align with their own, without a second thought on its merit or truth. Perhaps whether or not America’s moral susceptibility to gullibility, poor judgment, and blind faith can be redeemed is a ticking time atomic bomb matter. This call for change and redemption before America meets its demise is what O’Connor wished for readers to consider.
The definition of the word good is something that is morally right. The story of a family on a road trip to Florida, begins with an unnamed grandmother, whose hesitant demeanor, goes unnoticed as they move forward with the getaway. Ironically, a misfit on the loose around their destination, crosses paths with them, ending their trip in tragedy.
During her final living moments, the grandmother pleads to the misfit that he is a good man. However, her efforts dont save her from the misfitr’s malicious actions, killing her without uncertainty. In OConnorr’s, A Good Man is Hard to Find, the theme of good vs. evil is explored between the characters of the misfit and the grandmother.
The grandmother figure in the short story has a rather aggressive beginning in the first paragraphs. The road trip the family is about to embark on isnt ideal for her, especially with the misfit around the area. However, her character is beginning to show throughout the trip. When the children were commenting on how Tennessee appears to be a dumping ground her response demonstrates how much she values respect when arguing back, In my time, children were more respectful of their native states and their parents and everything else (243). Further along their trip, she seems to correct the childrenr’s behavior constantly, as they spew out insulting comments in the car, and at their next stop at a barbecue joint owned by Red Sammy. However, she engages in conversation with the owner, and expresses her idea of what a good man means to her.
To her, the definition of a good man, is virtually someone who has a moral and respectful mindset, in response to Red Sammyr’s actions, Two fellers come in here last week, driving a Chrysler right to me. It was a old beat-up car but it was a good one and these boys looked right to me. Saif they worked at the mill and you know I let them fellers charge the gas they bought? Now, why did I do that? (OConnor 245). His generosity and kindness falls into the description of a morally good man. However, she does judge his character rather fast, not knowing if her’s done anything morally wrong in his life. It doesnt seem like she gets to know whoever she calls good well enough before describing them this way. Once meeting the misfit, the word is thrown to characterize him quickly from grandmother as well.
The first mentioning of the misfit didnt give any specific details, only that he escaped prison and was heading towards Florida. Obviously, the grandmother was concerned about heading in that direction with the family, yet they didnt believe there was a slight chance of crossing paths. The misfit carried along their trip, as conversion with Red Sammy progressed on the state of the world. Crimes that he committed in the past, werent discussed between the grandmother, and his mentioning was just used to make conversation. The indication of his history is given when speaking to grandmother. He describes his parental figures, saying Daddy was a card himself. You couldnt put anything over on him. He never got in trouble with the Authorities though. Just had a knack of handling them (OConnor 250). There is an evidently history of crime in his family, having followed in his fatherr’s footsteps. An assumption can be made that the misfit grew up morally corrupt in knowing his fatherr’s criminal actions. A close relationship between the two is clear since the misfit also is described by his father as a different breed of dog, predicting his son would eventually follow his path. The misfit is lead into a life of evil, hateful crime which is especially shown in the climax of the story.
The confrontation between the two characters reveals a complexing analysis of their ideals and beliefs. The misfit has ironically crossed paths with the family, and the interaction with the grandmother was bound to end terribly. Suddenly, since the grandmother senses her fate, her definition of a good man appears to apply to the misfit now. Once she realizes his identity, she reasons with him, crying out, I know youre a good man. You dont look a bit like you have common blood. I know you must come from nice people! (OConnor 249). The misfit is the polar opposite of her previous definition, representing the pure evil due to his criminal actions in his life. Her use of wording when expressing he doesnt have common blood is indication of how sher’s trying to reason with his actions. Now, a good man comes essentially comes from a person with a lifeline of goodness in their genes.
The heavy use of religion shows how evil the misfit actually is. The grandmotherr’s religious background presents itself, as she tries to convince the misfit, prayer is the answer to his troubles. Yet, the misfit doesnt believe prayer will get him anywhere or fix his past criminal record. His revelation of why he doesnt want to be saved by God points out the true evil his character represents. The reasoning behind his lack of religious belief is announced when he argues, I found out the crime dont matter. You can do one thing or you can do another, kill a man or take a tire off his car, because sooner or later youre going to forget what it was you done and just be punished for it (251). At this point, the misfit has no sense on whatr’s right and wrong. He acts on his evil actions of killing, not having enough motive to stop his criminal acts. There is no guilty feeling when pulling the trigger,
In literature, forests have a bad reputation. Little Red Riding Hood gets tricked by a wolf in a forest. Dante starts his descent into hell wandering around in a forest.
The Forbidden Forest near Hogwarts gives Harry Potter almost nothing but trouble. Forests are full of creepy fungi, jagged rock, twisted branches, and deceptive little critters. To read almost any book is to understand how purely evil forests are. This is also the case in A Good Man Is Hard to Find, where the forest is where all except the grandmother is taken to get shot. It seems like only good thing to have come out of forests is the Black Forest Cake, when you first start reading. Symbolism and irony are two literary devices that are used commonly throughout the story.
We know that the family begins in Atlanta and that they travel a few hours south to the town of Toombsboro. Here, the grandmother persuaded her son to take a detour onto a dirt road. After continuing on this road they run off the road and land in a ditch. The ditch is nearly ten feet below the road and lies between the road and a “tall and dark and deep” forest. There is forest on the other side of the road too, so the forest “looms” over the scene on both sides. This part of the story is like a staged play: the site of the action doesn’t move, the ditch is the stage, and the forest is “backstage,” where characters are taken. We only learn what is happening from the noises we hear, which are usually screams or gunshots.
As for the time, the era of the story is never explicitly defined, but given the cars and the mention of Gone With the Wind (published as a book in 1936 and released as a movie in 1939), we can guess it’s the 1940’s or later. Since there is no mention of a war going on, and the grandmother says that “the way Europe acted you would think we were made of money” (44), it is almost certainly after WWII. Since O’Connor wrote this story in 1953, I think we can place it in the late 40’s or early 50’s. We know that the family leaves their home in the morning, and that they leave Red Sammy in the “hot afternoon. We do not actually know how late it is when they land in the ditch. The grandmother says it is a beautiful day, but we know from The Misfit that the sun is nowhere to be seen.
The story is told in the third person and it centers singularly on the grandmother. She is the character we are told the most about, by far. She is also the only character whose point of view we can access directly. We get to hear her thoughts and feelings, although we never get too much detail. We are usually given a direct, short summary that leaves a lot of room for imagination on the part of the reader. That there is room for interpretation with regard to the grandmother’s inner thoughts continues to be a subject of debate. The only other character who is given comparable attention is The Misfit. We only learn about him through the grandmother’s perspective. After the grandmother is killed, though, there is a brief switch to The Misfit’s perspective, although we do not get any further into his head.
You know, if we were wicked killers running from the police we would not choose to drive in a big, black, battered hearse-like automobile. (70). Nothing symbolizes menacing death like hearse. Although, this is the kind of automobile Misfit & Co. chose to ride around Georgia in. One that looks as if it should be carrying a coffin to a funeral. It is excellent imagery for the story, but quite dumb if you are trying to stay incognito in real life.
- 1 A Literary Analysis of Injustices in A Good Man is Hard to Find
- 2 Works Cited
A Literary Analysis of Injustices in A Good Man is Hard to Find
Flannery OConnorr’s A Good Man is Hard to Find is a tragic short story that was first published in 1953 and revolves around a single family comprised of a mother, a father, three children, and a grandmother. The family decides to travel to Florida for vacation despite the grandmotherr’s claims that an ex-convict by the name Misfit was headed in the same direction. On their way to Florida, the grandmother thinks they are near a plantation house that she remembers from as a young lady..
After a bit of persuasion and deceit, the grandmother convinces her son Bailey to drive them there to see it. The grandmother soon realizes, however, that she is mistaken as to the location of the plantation house but decides not to tell the rest of the family her error. The grandmotherr’s cat, that she snuck onto the road-trip without telling anyone, gets out of the basket and frightens Bailey so much that he crashes the car.
Luckily, no one in the car suffers any injuries. Unfortunately, the Misfit and his two henchmen show up at the scene of the crash and gun down the entire family. In this essay, the injustices of murder, unjust prosecution, and violence in society, as they occur in this short story, will be analyzed. The Misfit orders Bobby Lee and Hiram to murder the parents and three children. Well, first you and Bobby Lee get him and that little boy to step over yonder with you There was a pistol shot from the woods, followed closely by another, (O’Connor 24). The children and their parents are ultimately shot to death by Bobby Lee and Hiram for no particular reason. Bobby Lee and Hiram carry out these murders, ordered by the Misfit, without question or hesitation. The men perform these heinous acts casually and with no signs of remorse. No one in the family ever attempts to harm these men. Initially, the family thought that the Misfit and his friends would help rescue them after they crashed their car. To the familyr’s surprise, the men exit their vehicle carrying guns and the grandmother immediately identifies one of the men as the Misfit. From what the grandmother says at the beginning of the story, it is clear that she fears the Misfit and is aware of the terrible crimes he has committed against other people (Bandy).
Bobby Lee and Hiram commit murder, perhaps the greatest injustice of all, when they execute the three children and their parents. In the end, the Misfit murders the grandmother. She reached out and touched him on the shoulder. The Misfit sprang back as if a snake had bitten him and shot her three times through the chest, (O’Connor 32). The Misfit guns down the grandmother despite her desperate pleas to spare her life. She listens to the Misfitr’s complaints about injustice and religion. She even suggests that prayer may hold the solution to his troubles. She tells him that he is a good man and that she was sure that he comes from nice people. The grandmother, despite her terror, tries desperately to convince the Misfit that he has goodness inside of himself despite being a convicted murderer. She continues to praise him even though he has ordered the murder of her entire family. When she sees that the Misfitr’s face is twisted and that he is about to cry, she reaches out to touch him. In a final attempt to extract mercy from the Misfit, the grandmother identifies him as one of her own children (Bandy).
Ultimately, the Misfit murders the grandmother despite her pleas for mercy and words of encouragement. The Misfitr’s reaction to the grandmotherr’s pleas for mercy is inhumane and unjust. The Misfit claims that he was wrongly convicted and imprisoned for the murder of his own father. My daddy died in the nineteen ought nineteen of the epidemic flu, and I never had a thing to do with it, (O’Connor 28). From what the Misfit tells the grandmother, it is clear that he believes that he was wrongly convicted. He mentions that he is unable to recall if he really committed the crime that he was accused of. Furthermore, the Misfit was only told by the doctor at the penitentiary that he killed his father; he was not given any proof or evidence that he committed the crime (Shmoop Editorial Team).
In a judicial setting, one can only be convicted after the evidence has been provided and proven to be true. The Misfit claims that his father died of epidemic flu and there is no way that he could have caused that. If the Misfitr’s claims are true, then an unjust act was committed against him by those held responsible for enforcing justice in our society. The Misfit also claims that he was held in custody without being shown any proof that he had committed a crime. they could prove I had committed one because they had the papers on me They never shown me my papers, (O’Connor 30). He was only told his offense by word of mouth in the hospital by the psychiatrist. The Misfit has the right to be shown the evidence that upholds his conviction in order to realize that his punishment is fitting for his crime. Doling out a punishment that exceeds the nature of the crime committed is an injustice (Flint). The judge is expected to provide the suspect with all the information and an explanation of why they are being detained. The Misfit claims that he was denied this right. If the Misfitr’s claims are true, then the judge committed an act of injustice by convicting him without providing adequate information regarding his crime. Violence and injustice are an ever-present threat in our society. Seen a man burnt alive oncet I even seen a woman flogged I found out the crime dont matter,” (O’Connor 27 – 29).
The Misfit mentions that he has witnessed acts of injustice carried out upon other people. He once witnessed a man being burned alive and a woman being beaten but never mentions the crimes for which they were accused. From these two examples, it is clear that there are injustices in society pertaining to crime and punishment (Flint). When the story begins, the grandmother is afraid of going to Florida because she believes that it is unsafe due to the alleged presence of the Misfit. Also, the wife of the owner of the Tower is scared that the Misfit may attack their restaurant. It is clear, in this story, that members of society lack feelings of security and safety due to the actions of violent injustices that occur to seemingly innocent people. The Misfitr’s techniques of seeking justice are unjust in themselves. then it’s nothing for you to do but enjoy the few minutes you got left the best way you can — by killing somebody or burning down his house or doing some other meanness to him. No pleasure but meanness.” (O’Connor 31).
The Misfit chooses to enjoy his time as a free man by committing evil and heinous crimes. He seems to take pride in the fact that he has spent his time killing people and burning their houses down since he escaped from the penitentiary. Despite claiming to be innocent of the crime he was arrested for, he freely admits to orchestrating and committing terrible acts toward other people. By seeking his own justice through violence toward others, the Misfit commits acts of injustice (Peck). It is clear that the Misfit does not feel any guilt from his unjust actions. Furthermore, he mentions that he has realized that the crime does not matter. The Misfit is misguided in his attempt to seek justice for his own wrongful conviction. The Misfit uses unjust actions to seek justice for what he claims to be a wrongful conviction. This essay provides a literary analysis of the unjust acts in Flannery OConnorr’s short story, A Good Man is Hard to Find. Several examples of injustice have been names and analyzed. The injustices in this essay include the murder of an entire family, the injustices in society such as burning a human being alive, the wrongful conviction of the Misfit, and the Misfitr’s unjust actions in his quest for his own personal justice. This short story gives examples of injustices that may occur in modern-day society which must be avoided in order to maintain feelings of safety and security amongst members of the population.
- O’Connor, Flannery. A Good Man Is Hard To Find And Other Stories. pp. 5 – 32, https://m.learning.hccs.edu/faculty/desmond.lewis/inrw-0420/a-good-man-is-hard-to-find/A%20Good%20Man%20Is%20Hard%20To%20Find.pdf. Accessed 6 Nov. 2018.
- Bandy, Stephen C. “‘One of my babies’: the misfit and the grandmother.” Studies in Short Fiction, vol. 33, no. 1, 1996, p. 107+. Academic OneFile, https://link.galegroup.com.cmsmir.clevelandstatecc.edu/apps/doc/A19638483/AONE?u=tel_a_clscc&sid=AONE&xid=9f45db0c. Accessed 6 Nov. 2018.
- Shmoop Editorial Team. The Misfit in A Good Man Is Hard to Find. Shmoop, Shmoop University, 11 Nov. 2008, www.shmoop.com/good-man-hard-to-find/the-misfit.html. Flint, Thomas P. “ON THE SIGNIFICANCE OF CIVIL WAR REFERENCES IN FLANNERY O’CONNOR’S ‘A GOOD MAN IS HARD TO FIND’.” Renascence: Essays on Values in Literature, vol. 70, no. 2, 2018, p. 119+.
- Literature Resource Center, https://link.galegroup.com.cmsmir.clevelandstatecc.edu/apps/doc/A546217554/LitRC?u=tel_a_clscc&sid=LitRC&xid=8c10a060. Accessed 6 Nov. 2018. Peck, M. Scott. People of the Lie: The Hope for Healing Human Evil. Simon and Schuster, 1983.
This paper is intended to talk about overall research on a short story A Good Man is Hard to find written by Flannery OConnor. Basically, it gives an overview on the story and also made arguments over the topics. The paper is written for fiction essay deliverable.
Adversity is a good discipline. A good man is hard to find is one of the famous short stories written by Flannery OConnor. In this short story A good man is hard to find. Though not complicated at least on the surface, is rather difficult to understand for readers who have little knowledge of the authorr’s religious and philosophic ideas. It talks about a familyr’s vacation tragically ended by a murderer and his gang. After a meddlesome Grandmother tries to insist that the family go to Tennessee instead of Florida, it was in fact through her own insistence that prompted the family stray from the main path in search of some false, lose treasure. This deadly decision caused the family to fall prey to the Misfit.
A Good Man is Hard to Find The Grandmother, who is the one and only dynamic character, represents all of us who have repented. The Grandmother is obsessed with everything worldly and superficial; she cares far too much about how others perceive her. And the Misfit is a wanted criminal who stumbles upon the family when they crash their car in the woods. Also, he does not see himself as a terrible person. His two henchmen kill the entire family, and the Misfit shoots the grandmother himself. There are three phases of thought for the Grandmother. During the first phase, which is in the beginning, she is completely focused on herself in relation to how others think of her. The Second Phase occurs when she is speaking to The Misfit.
In the story, The Misfit represents a quasi-final judgment. He does this by acting like a mirror. He lets whatever The Grandmother says bounce right off him. He never really agrees with her or disagrees, and in the end, he is the one who kills her. His second to last line, “She would of been a good woman,” The Misfit said, “if it had been somebody there to shoot her every minute of her life,. Might be the way O’Conner felt about most of us alive, or how she felt that God must feel about us. The Misfit observes this shift and seems to realize what it means, if the grand mother could have lived her life at gunpoint, so to speak, she could have gained the self-awareness and compassion that she would lacked. The third and final phase of
The Grandmother is the moment of redemption. She finally sees The Misfit for who he really is, a person just like her. He is not someone who was made by his social class. He is a simple human being just like her. At this point she sees herself in relation to everyone else. She finally realizes that she is not made by her class. Society makes the class, and she just fits into it. She shows this by claiming that The Misfit could be one of her own beloved children.
OConnorr’s symbolism throughout the story represents faith and death. The fact that the family had strayed from the main path onto an unimportant side road, where they were killed, symbolizes how people often stray from Jesus and follows the wrong path spiritually. It was in this town that the grandmother thought the old plantation was. This was where she became sidetracked, again like her faith in Jesus. In the car, John Wesley and June Star were playing a game by guessing the shape of the clouds in the sky. The clouds represent the grandmotherr’s superficial faith. She dressed herself with the purple spray of flowers just in case she died. It was as if she were taking death lightly. It was when she knew she was going to die that the grandmother started to desperately preach the gospel to the Misfit. At the end of the story, there were no clouds. The Misfit commented, Arent a cloud in the sky, Dont see no sun but dont see no cloud neither. The clouds had faded away and the sky was empty, just like the grandmotherr’s faith was empty. The graveyard in the plantation is a concrete symbol of death, and the quote, It was a big black battered hearse like automobile, symbolizes that their transportation to death had arrived. The grandchildren, the Misfit and in the end Jesus Himself support this theme.
At the beginning of the story the grandmother states, I wouldnt take my children in any direction with a criminal like that aloose on it. I couldnt answer my conscious if I did. Suddenly she is put in the situation of trying to answer her conscious by falsely trying to convince herself and the Misfit that he is a good man. When the Misfit plainly admits, Nome, I aint a good man, she resorts to Jesus. The Misfit then blames Jesus for his actions. He tries to compare Jesus to himself by commenting that Jesus threw everything off balance and was punished for sins he didnt commit just like the Misfit was punished for crimes he didnt commit. But in the end the theme carries on that even A Good Man is Hard to Find in Jesus because the Misfitr’s unworthy comparison of himself with Jesus caused the killing rampage. The grandmotherr’s false hope in Jesus seemed to crumble when He did not save her again, thus showing in a religious sense that A Good Man is Hard to Find
In the story A Good Man is Hard to Find by Flannery OConnor starts out by giving a look at a dysfunctional family on a vacation, but ultimately, gives insight into ourselves as well as the nature of good and evil, how they can clash, and how they can co-exist, even in the same person, In my opinion, O’Connor taps into the subject of religion and if everyone would find Jesus, the culture’s morals, values, respect and humanity could again become intact.
Throughout the entirety of the article moral is the main focal point that William Bonney keeps coming back to he believes that OConnor marks moral structure as the center of the sequence of tales and serves as a means to paint the picture of good versus evil. As it pertains to A Good Man Is Hard To Find it shows a motive and means into how a human can, betray oner’s own and anotherr’s humanity. Toward the end of the story it seem as if the grandmother is coming to grips with her own moral kinship with the criminal, Yet the misfit passes judgement upon his victim with no sense of moral structure.
This is precisely what the article is trying to explain Our Moral Character is built by the choices we make and the actions we perform.
Author William Bonney Stated In his article although he is a murderer, the Misfit is the only character in the story with any sense of what it means to ask morally serious questions about human experience, and the quality makes him remotely connotative of the eternal misfit, Christ. In many ways moral structure is the result of many different factors such as family, church, society, school, est. Flannery OConnor like to add a touch of spirituality to her stories, with A good man is hard to find it seem as though she is using the Christ to paint the picture of the story to teach a moral lesson. The article expresses the grandmother as manipulative and moralistic and in many way she was especially when she did things such as bribing her granddaughter, inciting the children to disrespect their father, not telling the truth about the old house with the secret panel, When the misfit stated Christ didnt raise the dead and in a effort to ingratiate herself with the agnostic the misfit said maybe he didnt raise the dead her own moral compass seems conflicted. While the Misfit seems as if he lost all sense of his motility and now feel that because of all the things he when through in his life he is morally obligated to commit these heinous crimes. As these two characters have this conversation it seems as if the misfit is realizing that his moral structure is a result of the choices he made or other made that guided him to that moment.
A Good Man Is Hard To Find written by Flannery OConnor is about a family who are on there way out for a vacation and run into a famous killer named the Misfit, who along with a couple other criminals have broken out of Jail. The Misfit along with his co-conspirator toward the end of the story end up killing the family in the woods. The climax of the story is the conversation between the grandmother and the Misfit, the grandmother is trying to argue for her life by explaining to the killing that at some point he was a good more that was turned down the wrong path. While the Misfit questions the grandmother about human experience that can turn a good person into a bad one. Author William Bonney in his Academic Journal wrote about the moral structure of Flannery OConnorr’s A good man is hard to find in this paper I discuss the moral structure of the grandmother & Misfit, Our Moral Character is built by the choices we make and the actions we perform.
The story A Good Man Is Hard to Find, you look closely at the characters’ behaviors. Even though, the misfit is the main evil person in the story there is no telling how evil everyone else can be. The scene Im mostly concentrating on is between the grandmother and the misfit.
The grandmother considers the misfit to solid faith, about what makes a good person. The grandmother is considered, the loud mouth Christian of the family. The misfit plays God by eliminating the evils of the grandmotherr’s family, while she tries to play along and says the misfit is another one of God’s children. Yes, the grandmother has her beliefs, but the misfit tries to persuade her that, faith requires observation in order to stand. After the grandmother dies in the story, she comes to the realization of salvation. While reading this short story, the grandmother comes upon the true meaning of belief and expands Christianity to the universe. (Teen Ink, 2017)
There are many examples of symbolism in A Good Man Is Hard to Find. An example of religious symbolism was presented in the grandmotherr’s speech. The grandmother would use religious references when speaking with the misfit and her family members. When the grandmother says pray, pray demonstrates how the grandmother deals with conflict in her lifetime. The grandmother explained to the misfit, if you pray, Jesus would help you. She demonstrates that Christianity would love beyond the misfitr’s crimes. (Study Mode, 2011) Since the grandmother emphasizes the misfit to pray, she is criticized for being religious. The misfit and the grandmother, both live by moral codes. Moral codes are sets of beliefs and behaviors to live by what is reasonable. The grandmother has moral codes to try to make people become good. The misfit on the other hand, has consistent moral codes.
By being a convicted criminal, he believes crimes are a punishment, but doesnt really matter in the end. The misfit challenges his religious beliefs and tries to figure out a way to follow them. Her’s concluded being a religious person is pointless and wants to follow his own religion. In the story when the misfit murders the family, the grandmother plead for her life. She was certain the misfit would respect her moral code. The misfit in the story lacks moral guidance and questions the meaning of life. He carefully tries to find lesson within his actions. The misfit knows he isnt the greatest person in the world, but he does know there are people that are worse than him. The grandmotherr’s moral code in the story, ends up falling apart the moment itr’s challenged and the misfit views life the way he believes is right. The last moments of the grandmotherr’s life, she notices the misfitr’s strength and weaknesses. The misfit says that Jesus is the only one that ever raised the dead and shouldnt have done it. It was also said from the misfit, If He did what He said, then it’s nothing for you to do but throw away everything and follow Him, and if He didn’t, then it’s nothing for you to do but enjoy the few minutes you got left the best way you can…by killing somebody or burning down his house or doing some other meanness to him. No pleasure but meanness,. (O’Connor 22)
The author of A Good Man Is Hard to Find, places emphasis on people that have no Christian beliefs and finds interest in other things, then religion. He tries to get people reading this story, to experience real Christianity through symbolism throughout the entire story. He uses symbolism to describe how hard it is to find someone thatr’s good. This was brought out by the grandmother in the story. People in the story that has the same religion as the grandmother, tend to worship her. She is the woman who is defined as a true Christian. The misfitr’s behavior is used to take a toll on the grandmother to boost her faith. Although, seeing how the conversation goes between the grandmother and the misfit, you can tell the misfit has been through many struggles. By reading, you can see how the misfits mind works according to his behavior. In the story, the misfit is also used to represent the young generation when it comes down to being religious and the grandmother represents the old generation. What O’Connor tries to do, is capture the power of faith in someoner’s life.
A Good Man Is Hard to Find is one of those stories that can be viewed as a life lesson. Human beings will sometimes change as an individual or their opinions on a certain situation that we thought differently about. This conflicts the decisions we begin to make. The grandmother in the story explains her love for Christianity but doesnt pray whenever sher’s in a crisis. By questioning the power of God, it is obvious she isnt aware of her actions. You can tell in the story, that the grandmother thinks she has the right to judge greatness in others and wishes to tell them how to live their lives. When she was afraid of what would happen to her, she agreed with the misfit and then changes her mind about Jesus rising from the dead. At this point, the grandmother is confused about her beliefs of grace. The misfit was aware of Christianity and Jesus but doesnt believe anything until he sees it. (Study Mode, 2011)
The grandmother did at some point have a moment of grace after the misfit questioning what Jesus has done before sacrificing his life. She then says to him Why youre one of my babies, Youre one of my own children!. The grandmother realized they are both the same person despite their sins and weaknesses. Even though grace settles on both of them, they both have the potential to be saved by God. Before the grandmother dies, grace was given to her along with the misfit. In the beginning going back to when the misfit says no pleasure but meanness in life, the misfit declares there is no pleasure in life at all. Killing the grandmother and her whole family, brought him nothing but happiness and joy. OConner made the misfit seem like a good man for connecting with the grandmother when having a conversation and killing her right away. A question that I ask is, what wouldve happened to the grandmother if she met the misfit before going on the trip? Would the misfit ever get caught for killing the family? These are some questions I asked myself while reading this story. From the beginning of A Good Man Is Hard to Find, no one realized how it reflected to the ending. Towards the end of the story, the misfit says to himself She would have been a good woman if it had been somebody there to shoot her every minute of her life. (O’Connor 22)
Instead of spreading the value of Christianity to others, the grandmother manipulates people for her own benefit. The only moment of grace was mainly towards the end of the story when the misfit holds the gun towards her. It seems the misfit kills the grandmother last, since she gave him a chance to explain his life. The misfit basically used and played the grandmother the entire time. He questioned her about his past, spoked about being a good person and obeying God. Every action the grandmother made, came at a price of her own life. The misfit also recognized a few things about the grandmother towards the end of the story. One is despite her religious beliefs, she conveys herself as a good woman and to the misfit she is not. He also recognized when facing death, the grandmother had the chance to become a good woman. At the end of this short story he realized if the grandmother could have lived her life at gunpoint, she could have gained compassion that she lacked.
When I read this story, I didnt really expect for the grandmother to be so manipulating to her family. How can you be so religious and into Christianity, when you do bad things? The grandmother wasnt so different from the misfit after all. Yes, she was trying to get him to change his ways and was telling him to pray while going through problems, but she did not even pray herself. It seems to me the grandmother was never a family person. It also seems like she was trying to stay on the misfitr’s good side, but in the end Im sure she didnt know she was going to die herself. Along with her family members. Being a Christian means to stick with that religion, to be good, praise God, be kind and do what is expected of you. I guess the misfit had a plan the entire time of the story. To get the grandmother where he wants her, entertain her, then kill her. He did just that.
The short story A Good Man is Hard to find has a lot of different themes involved. Since a long time ago there has being a issue of good versus evil, and thatr’s one of the themes. It also has other themes like: family, religion, society, and class.
Good versus evil is developed because the grandmother has a confrontation with a superficial sense of goodness and a criminal who is evil. Religion is involved because the grandmother think that the Misfit is a good man, by her beliefs. On the other hand, family is included because there we just like a basic family, adults arguing and the two kids in the back. The grandmother in A Good Man is Hard to Find” gives great importance to being “a lady,” and her ideas about what that means reflect an old-fashioned, somewhat upper-crust Southern mindset. In A Good Man is Hard to Find, Flannery OConnor shows the dfferent types of themes that are in the story, these themes are: good vs evil, family, religion, society, and class.
A Good Man is Hard to Find” is confrontation of between a grandmother with a rather superficial sense of goodness, and a criminal who embodies real evil. The grandmother seems to treat goodness mostly as a function of being decent, having good manners, and coming from a family of “the right people”. The grandmother describes her family as the right people because they supposedly raised her the right way. The Misfit is the criminal who embodies real evil, the grandmother and the Misfit met in Florida. The Misfit who seems straightforwardly evil, with little to no sense of guilt, and a genuine, desires to do cruel or destructive things for their own sake. Understanding the motivations of The Misfit, and what “goodness” means by contrast, is one of the central puzzles of the story.
The grandmother and The Misfit had a another conformation between each other in that revolves around Jesus and religion. The grandmother brings up praying to Jesus in the hope that she can induce The Misfit to spare her life by appealing to his religious sense. It turns out, however, that The Misfit has probably thought about Jesus more seriously than she has. The Misfit know about Jesus, but he doubts him. The Misfit thinks that there is no real right or wrong, and no ultimate point to life. At the story’s climax, the grandmother appears to receive a moment of divine grace, which might transform her and The Misfit. How this ending is understood is the major question of the story.
“A Good Man is Hard to Find” contains some funny comedy about a family, and the ways they get on each other’s nerves. They were the kind of family that could be in a movie. There’s the two troublesome and annoying kids, the hot-headed dad who tries to maintain control of a situation and fails, the wife busy attending to the baby, and the grandmother, who’s a case all to herself. This story is like a comedy, there are a couple of movies or tv shows that are similar to this. Even though it starts as a comedy, it takes a serious turn when the family encounters a criminal, who kills them one by one.
The grandmother in “A Good Man is Hard to Find” gives great importance to being “a lady,” and her ideas about what that means reflect an old-fashioned, and a Southern mindset. She uses the n-word and longs for the good old days when kids were polite, people were trustworthy, and there were pretty plantations to visit. All of this leads her to associate being good with coming from a respectable family and behaving like a member of her social class. Her sensibilities are in for quite a shock when she meets The Misfit.
In conclusion, a story can have several different themes in it. Even though the story started about a normal family, they all ended up dying. It is ironic to see the Misfit on the newspaper, and then find in in person. The main characters were the Misfit and the grandmother. The two main characters were involved in most of the themes. In A Good Man is Hard to Find, Flannery OConnor clearly shows the different types of themes that are in the story, these themes are: good vs evil, family, religion, society, and class.
- Shmoop Editorial Team. A Good Man Is Hard to Find Themes. Shmoop, Shmoop University, 11 Nov. 2008, www.shmoop.com/good-man-hard-to-find/themes.html. 09 November 2018
- A Good Man Is Hard to Find. Pullman Strikes Out Introduction, xroads.virginia.edu/~drbr/goodman.html. 09 November 2018
In the short story A Good Man is Hard to Find by Flannery OConner it magnifies the fight between good and evil. There is the Misfit who is a killer which clearly brings about the thought of evilness due to his cruel decisions and ability to follow through with actions. Then the Grandmother attempts to resembles goodness despite her true colors revealing themselves prior to encountering the Misfit.
A family from the South is taking a trip up to Florida but the true journey takes place within their lives. One question that constantly comes about in the story is, what the definition of a good man is and why do so few remain in the world. Most of the characters in the story think of themselves as good people because they have that high self standard and would not dare think less then that. This mindset is deeply flawed though, leaving each character blinded by their own pride that they can not put aside and see their true ways.
The Grandmother refers to herself as having the best values out of all the people. She completely overdresses for the trip in case they die that her clothing reminds them of how true of a lady she was. The narrator points out that the Grandmother looks down to other people as she is higher on the chain of respect due to her stature. At the start of the story, she criticizes the mother for not taking the children out and allowing them to experience the world and open their eyes to new sights and things, and tells John Wesley that he should be more proud of his roots whether his birth location or family.
Despite being so judgmental for others, she fails to criticize her own dishonesty, hypocrisy, and selfish ways. When she comes after John Wesley about the state, she mentions the little black boy as a pickaninny which is a racial slur due to appearance in the same sentence. She later says that little black kids do not have things like they do and that if she could remind them of one thing it would be just that. She then illustrates this picture later with a lovely story of the good old days on the Southern plantations. Her thought process of a good man is one not perfect but not to flawed in his ways either. The narrator says she would have married Edgar Teagarden because of a smart business decision he made which led to his wealth. In the end, when the Misfit is murdering her closest and most beloved family members one by one, she commands the man to pray for himself and his situation. Yet she not once prays for her own family to be pardoned by the Misfit for her them to be spared. She is even over the top when she pulls a handkerchief out to cool herself off and tells the Misfit if he would dare kill a lady, effectively trying to save herself instead of her family.
The Misfit does not seem like the type of individual to have morals, but he has a much deeper thought process that many characters in this story seem to lack unfortunately. The Misfit may be an unprincipled person with perverted beliefs but he is consistent and sticks by them. The Misfit is very aware of the type of person he is by telling the Grandmother that despite him not being a great man he is not the worst of them either. With the clear connection of consistency and self-awareness about himself being displayed the Misfit can rely on his beliefs despite them being twisted and cruel to guide him through his life journey. This is expressed drastically when Bobby Lee states that is must have been fun to shoot the Grandmother, in which the Misfit says there is no satisfaction in killing anyone. He knows what he must do and will not change on his plan and holds a firm position on it. This is a complete 180 turn to the Grandmother, who continuously fails to live by her own morals all the time.
The values, beliefs, and morals that people have make up their character. Moral codes are nothing more than what has come to be accepted by society for others. The Grandmother has it all wrong and thinks it is about where you are from and how you physically appear to others and what they will think of you. Although she thinks of herself as a lady, she manipulates and tricks those nearest to her. She sets herself to a high standard, but she lacks traits to match that belief and therefore is not what she so deeply wants. The Misfitr’s moral code, although harsh, is persistent which allows him to live his life by his own rules with no care in the world of anything else. He is true to himself and does not beat around the bush to who he is, but the same can not be said about the Grandmother.
A good man or woman in this case is hard to find in the texts of this story. When Red Sam tells the Grandmother about the time he was being deprived for the gas, she calls him a good man. She then attempts to tell the Misfit he is a good man because she believed that he would not shoot her because she is a lady or in reality because she just cared about her own life and would use any excuse to cover it up and make it sound better in her favor. What she does not realize is that she is not calling people good because they are moral, but because what they hold in high importance in their lives is what she holds high in her life as well. The only one that shows glimpses of being considered anything near a good man is the Misfit, because even though his beliefs are cruel and unjust, he is the only one that appears to stick to his life principles.