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Life is a puzzle and as people continue to explain why the most precious things are hard to get, the puzzle seems to become more complex. It does not tell why gold and silver, to mention but a few, lie deep underground. This is a reality, subject to no squabble explaining why thoughtful playwrights like Flannery O’Connor come in handy to authenticate it. In her compelling masterwork A Good Man is Hard to Find, she points out that, what people mean by ‘good men’ is actually different from its real meaning.
According to O’Connor, a man is good to another person, if what he does concurs with the person’s values, regardless of morals. However, God’s grace awaits any willing person no matter the weight of his/her sins. Featuring Misfit, a male character in the play, O’Connor’s view of life and salvation agrees with his as the tale unfolds. Subtle meaning of a ‘good man’ stands out as part of O’Connor’s message as exposited in this work.
A Good Man
The phrase ‘good man’ and the theme of who a good man is, according to peoples’ judgment in the play, stand abused. O’Connor intentionally brings in this matter to confirm that ‘good’ is actually relative, varying with people and hence meaningless. Grandmother randomly uses the term ‘good man’ when referring to men.
According to her, a man is good if what he does or what he can do concurs with what her take is on the same, given the chance, regardless of the prevailing moral teachings. For instance, as the family stops at a bistro, it encounters a man, Red Sammy, the owner of the restaurant.
His complaints are evident concerning a case where he has allowed two men to purchase gasoline on credit. According to him, they appeared ‘good’ and fit for credit. However, the two men fail to pay, the reason that makes Red Sammy declare them untrustworthy. As he demands to know why he does so from Grandmother, she says, “Because you’re a good man!” (O’Connor 580). Red Sammy is easily deceived, bears poor judgment skills, and has blind faith. Is he good?
None of these is good, yet Grandmother calls him good because she can relate to what the man does. Moreover, the grand mother desperately calls Misfit a good man. This comes from the claim that, the Misfit cannot shoot a woman, though this is not the case, as the man does not clarify it.
Therefore, out of blindness, Grandmother goes on and says, “I know you’re a good man at heart. I can just look at you and tell” (O’Connor 582). Based on the aforementioned expositions, the two men are ‘good’ according to the grandmother, not because they are morally upright, but because they concord with her values. These people are not ‘good’ per se, yet grace abounds for them as expounded next.
The theme of ‘grace’ stands out in O’Connor’s play. She brings to light the fact that grace is for all, but not for the righteous only. God bestows this favor to all His people, regardless of their present sins and worth noting is that, the most unlikely candidates end up receiving it. Neither grandmother nor Misfit is spiritually upright.
They seem not fit for God’s grace. They bear evident flaws and weaknesses. For instance, Grandmother is a liar. She lies to her grandchildren that a certain house she once saw has a secret panel. This is no more than an exaggeration, aimed at making it appear interesting to them than it actually is.
She also controls her son and believes that she is the correct person to pass judgments to people, calling them good and telling them what to do. For instance, she tells Misfit, “If you would pray…Jesus would help you” (O’Connor 584). The reason behind the prayer is that Misfit is a murderer, who ought to repent for forgiveness. Ironically, Grandmother cannot even compose a prayer sentence. Both are unlikely candidates of grace as people can claim, but this is far from the case. Grace awaits them.
As they unravel the enigma behind Jesus’ work of raising the dead, Grandmother cries shouting the name of Jesus. She even exposits, “Why you’re one of my babies. You’re one of my own children!” (O’Connor 585). She now realizes that all are human beings and equal. To realize this, owing to the evident prevailing differences in people, calls for the grace of God.
Grandmother has it, despite her flaws. In addition, Misfit initially delights in killing people but as the play unfolds, he declares that, “It’s no real pleasure in life” (O’Connor 585). He realizes that happiness comes with solely by knowing Jesus. It does not come from killing but from saving the lives of people, just as Jesus did. This is grace and grace in deed!
Misfit’s view of life and salvation agrees with O’Connor’s observations. According to the two, challenges must precede salvation. Both have experienced enough of them and they can testify that joy is only in Jesus. To confirm this, O’Connor attests she would have no grounds to write, see, or savor anything if she were not a catholic.
This is no more different from Misfit’s words that, “There is no pleasure in life” (O’Connor 585). There is no joy outside the realm of Christianity and regardless of their past, whether a sinner like Grandmother and Misfit, grace abounds for all. It is there for murderers, liars, as well as for you.
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O’Connor, Flannery. A Good Man is Hard to Find. USA: The State University, 1993.