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A Good Man Is Hard to Find: What Does the Ending Mean?

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The ending of O’Connor’s story means experiencing the moment of grace. It is highly personal for every human being. At the end of the story, the grandmother finds herself at peace and regains her integrity.

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A Good Man Is Hard to Find is Flannery O’Connor’s short story published in 1955. The story centers around a family that consists of Bailey, a father of three children, his wife, and his mother. The grandmother is the protagonist of the story. One day, the family decides to go on a trip to Florida, but the grandmother does not want to visit the state. Instead, she proposes to go to Tennessee, as it is the state where she grew up. She uses many arguments to convince Bailey. In one of the arguments, she says that in Florida, there is a criminal on the loose.

However, the family still decides to go on the trip because they do not care about the grandmother’s warnings. As a result, a variety of actions caused by the grandmother lead to a car crashing into a ditch. Although everyone stays alive, the grandmother feels that she has some injury. That is why she stops the approaching vehicle. There are three men inside. Later, the grandmother recognizes one of them as The Misfit from the newspapers.

The men kill the family members one by one, but the grandmother stays alive till the end of the story. She tries to beg The Misfit for redemption and talk him into giving her peace. To do so, she discusses with him Christianity, his thoughts about God, and his perception of the “good” and “bad.”

In the beginning, The Misfit is engaged in the conversation, and he starts to think about the grandmother’s words. At some point, the grandmother recognizes the man’s outfit and says that he was one of her children. At that moment, she touches The Misfit, and he shoots her three times. The story ends with The Misfit’s saying that the grandmother would be a good person if she was shot repeatedly.

There is no direct explanation for the ending of A Good Man Is Hard to Find. Some people believe that the true meaning of the ending is that there will always exist two types of people. The first type knows they are evil, and the second type acts wrong while thinking they are good.

A single fact may interpret the ending of the story. While people think of themselves as the “good” ones, there is no such thing as good after all. For example, upon facing death, grandmother believes that The Misfit wants to hear that he is a good man. However, when telling that, she implies that she is a good and caring person. She demonstrates the strength to empathize with a murderer. That is why The Misfit realizes the old lady is as spoiled as everyone else.

Another view on the ending says that any intended positive act may influence even the worst people. The grandmother dies with a smile on her face, which means that she experiences a moment of grace. At the same time, when The Misfit shoots her, he feels no pleasure in the evil act. On the contrary, he is terrified by the thought that purity and kindness may impact him.

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IvyPanda. 2021. "A Good Man Is Hard to Find: What Does the Ending Mean?" June 1, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/q/a-good-man-is-hard-to-find-what-does-the-ending-mean/.

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IvyPanda. (2021) 'A Good Man Is Hard to Find: What Does the Ending Mean'. 1 June.

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