The grandmother and The Misfit stand in the center of A Good Man Is Hard to Find. Their disagreement represents the man vs. man conflict. These characters are very different, which leads to the confrontation of beliefs. Once both express their attitude to morality and religion, the conflict becomes interpersonal.
A Good Man is Hard to Find is a short story about an American family going on vacation. A man named Bailey, his wife, children, and grandmother want to go to Florida. The grandmother disapproves of it – she did, after all, read the news about a criminal there. The name of the criminal is the Misfit, and he also heads to Florida. Nevertheless, Bailey takes the family to this state, traveling by car.
While on the road, the grandmother peeks everyone’s attention. She tells the story of a mysterious house in Georgia. Suddenly, everyone is itching to see it, and the family changes course. Unsurprisingly, soon enough, there is another change of destination. Just as unexpectedly, the grandmother remembers that the house in question is in a different state. It causes her to act instinctively, leading to a car crash.
As any observant reader will have guessed by now, The Misfit should appear at this point. Indeed, he does as a car stops, and three armed men walk out of it. The grandmother recognizes the criminal and calls him out on it. The men go on to shoot Bailey and one of the children. Then, The Misfit has an emotional breakdown as he talks about his wrongful conviction. The grandmother sympathizes with him, not remembering the crime he presumably convicted. She then states The Misfit is her child, which leads him to murder the entire family.
The grandmother and The Misfit are the apparent protagonist and antagonist. They are the source of the man vs. man conflict. The fact that the grandmother is a woman is just a language expression. It does not signify the male gender in any way. The clash happens when contradicting motives occur and cannot be solved. It is internal and external in both main characters. It is difficult to see how the conflict becomes interpersonal without looking at their beliefs.
Strangely, the grandmother and The Misfit are similar and different at the same time. The grandmother is a hypocritical Christian, while the criminal is honest and nihilistic. They both represent different sides of society through their views. The grandmother believes in Christ and calls to the good side in people. She talks about salvation and Christ, yet she behaves arrogantly and selfishly with her family. At the same time, The Misfit is open about his atheism. Interestingly enough, he has the qualities the grandmother lacks – honesty and thoughtfulness.
These inner controversies are apparent when The Misfit and grandmother talk about Jesus and the conviction. In an odd way, they react similarly to each other. Both express a sudden emotional surge and want to reach out. The grandmother attempts to pity him and caress him. Meanwhile, her inner contradiction to morality and hypocrisy causes The Misfit to lose his cool. He goes on to shoot the lady on the spot and proclaims his hatred for her. Social contradictions shine in The Misfit and the grandmother, thus setting up the conflict between them.