There is a bit of hope in this gloomy and tragic story. Flannery O’Connor describes her characters in a manner that seems satiric. But she believes we should still feel compassionate about them. Through an unpleasant situation, the author shows a range of human feelings. Therefore, we can call the tone of the story sympathetic.
During the story, Flannery O’Connor explores the issue stated in the title. She strives to understand what makes a good man. The main characters cannot serve as a positive example as most of them are far from being virtuous. Dissatisfied with reality, they tend to criticize it and seem to be trapped in their selfish, petty worlds. However, the author does not strictly judge their flaws. Instead, she describes them as an observer and allows readers to come to their own conclusions. Even the innocent face of a young woman is compared to cabbage. The author’s frankness creates a humorous effect, making the readers closer to the characters.
Flannery O’Connor chooses an unhappy ending to the story. The tragedy is somewhat of a punishment for the characters who do not appreciate life. But the author still believes they may change. Such transformation happens to the grandmother. The Misfit is the instrument of her revelation. She was a selfish old lady, but later, she calls the Misfit one of her children. Forgiving a killer of her family, she becomes a good man. It is her chance for divine redemption and a moment of grace. Her kindness allows her to die with a smile of relief.
The character of the Misfit evolves as well. He used to kill as a form of enjoyment. However, in the end, he confesses there is no real pleasure in life. Thereby, the author gives a chance to imperfect characters.