The story introduces two main characters: the protagonist – the grandmother, and the antagonist – The Misfit. Several minor characters develop the story. They are Red Sammy Butts, Bailey, his wife, and two kids – John Wesley and June Star. The main difference in this division lies in the degree of their spiritual development.
The majority of the characters in A Good Man Is Hard to Find appear shallow and superficial. Bailey gets easily manipulated and never pays attention to his family. His wife does not even get a name in the story and rarely speaks. Their kids, on the other hand, are rude, disrespectful, and violent. Even The Misfit’s criminal company seems to be more humane. The other character – Red Sammy, who the family meets on their way, also lacks positive traits. He disrespects his wife, who appears to be the only good character in the story. The two characters whose personalities open up throughout the novel are the grandmother and The Misfit.
The grandmother is judgmental and selfish. She considers herself a lady, which makes her superior to others and gives her the right to judge them. To prove her being a lady and extreme virtuousness, she chooses the most modest but elegant dress and a hat. The grandmother believes to be conscious and highly moral, which is the basis for her decisions. Although the threat of meeting The Misfit is apparent, she guides her family to the plantation. She conceitedly states that her conscience would not let her pose a danger to them.
She is highly critical of others and shamelessly attacks her son’s wife. The grandmother accuses her of taking bad care of the kids and taking them on the trip. However, she never applies the same criticism toward herself. The old lady takes her cat into the car and causes an accident. She does not miss the chance to criticize the morality of others with Red Sammy Butts. He dismisses his wife and joins the grandmother’s reminiscence about the good old days when the morals were better. They both view themselves as good people from the past who are rare nowadays. Such an approach once again underlines their hypocrisy as they value themselves more than others. Even when The Misfit kills the grandmother’s entire family, she tries to save herself by all means.
The Misfit appears to be a violent killer who causes mischief and kills innocent people. But as readers learn more about him, he seems much more moral and religious than the grandmother. The Misfit questions his morality and the god. He looks for meaning in life without assuming his moral superiority. He is self-aware because he analyzes his actions and can take the blame for them.
The Misfit does not try to prove his righteousness to those around him by all means. Instead, he forms his own philosophy, even if it is wretched and cruel. His moral code is stable, and he follows it no matter what. It shows up when compared to the grandmother, who betrays her principles at the end of the story. The Misfit knows his wrongs and flaws, which could have made him a great leader if he had not gone the wrong way.