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One of the classics of Southern Gothic literature is Flannery O’Connor’s “A Good Man is Hard to Find” which is an eerie narrative of a trip gone wrong. The writer creates a story grounded in simplicity but exploring very intricate moral and philosophical archetypes. In this short story, the characters are the driving force behind the narrative in which they stand as a representation of certain concepts aimed at exploring humanity.
Who is the misfit?
The criminal under the name Misfit which is so feared can be called the “Agent of the Devil” because of his moral compass. Misfit’s history is very dark and filled with emotional turmoil. Abused while still young and then facing the justice system, he is quickly incarcerated for a crime he insists he didn’t commit. This breaks Misfit, turning him upon a path of crime and evil. He enjoys bringing pain upon others because it was brought upon him. The confrontation between the Grandmother and Misfit has many direct allusions to Christianity such as that the criminal plays the role of the Devil’s advocate. Facing the concept of religion, Misfit realizes the all or nothing approach, choosing the latter since if there is no God, there is no punishment for his horrific deeds. Misfit is a man of his word. Unlike the family, the Grandmother in particular, he follows his values and principles. Misfit knows he has to kill the family, and he does it. At the end of the story, the reader can notice that there is an indication of his redemption. Harris states that “even though The Misfit does not openly accept God’s grace, he is unintentionally changed by the occurrence, which shows that he did allow God some control in the situation, whether he wanted to or not” (5).
From the first page, the reader can feel the disrespect and dissension. These two words perfectly characterize the family and their relationships between each other. The family represents the kind of people who think they are better than they are. They consider human nature to be perfect, lacking any emotional depth. The members of the family are not responsible for themselves and each other. This family is lost. The Grandmother is the brightest character. She can be described as a conceited and self-centered person. She thinks that the whole world revolves around her and that she possesses the best values. Although the Grandmother is very judgmental, she is never critical of her own personal qualities such as self-love, falseness, and dissimulation. The family consists of spiritual idealists that are essentially corrupted. O’Connor’s technique of placing the key theme in the title is repeated in this story. Throughout the narrative, it is discussed what a “good man” is, often horribly distorted by the characters due to convoluted logic. Only in the end does the Grandma, on the brink of death, show a motion of true virtue. “She would’ve been a good woman,’ said The Misfit, ‘if it had been somebody there to shoot her every minute of her life” (O’Connor, 32). Unfortunately, such personal qualities as dishonesty, hypocrisy, and self-interest are prevailing in the nature of a modern human. It can be said that this family represents the average American suburban family. Although the members of the family pretend to be kind and religious, they ignore their moral code and rules.
To sum up, “A Good Man is Hard to Find” by Flannery O’Connor is the story of redemption. In this story, the author tends to investigate human nature. It is believed that the story shows the transformation of the Grandmother. In the end, she finds out what grace and charity are, despite her controversial ideology.
Harris, Abbie. “Jesus Thrown Everything Off Balance”: Grace and Redemption in Flannery O’Connor’s” A Good Man is Hard to Find.” Papers & Publications: Interdisciplinary Journal of Undergraduate Research, vol. 3, no. 1, 2014, p. 5.
O’Connor, Flannery. “A Good Man is Hard to Find.” A Good Man is Hard to Find and Other Stories. Harcourt Brace & Co., 2001, pp. 217-253.