A Good Man Is Hard to Find - Story by Flannery O'Connor

A Good Man Is Hard to Find is a short tale written by Flannery O'Connor and published in 1953. The family is traveling to Florida, and along the way, each member's worst traits are exposed, including the irate cat, the obnoxious children, and the dotty grandmother. (Castle 139). Some are bigoted and reminiscent, others are obnoxious, and the remainder are grumpy. The Misfit, a heinous killer who escaped from prison, is also in the area and is traveling to Florida. The Toomsboro is a famous landmark that makes extensive use of symbolism. For instance, "Outside of Toombsboro the grandma woke up and remembered an old plantation that she had visited in this neighborhood once when she was a young lady (Larson 2).The forest is a symbol of harm and danger, “Forests are full of twisted branches and creepy fungi and deceptive little critters and jagged rocks” (Castle 141). The style used by the author is simple and expressly explicit, as most of all the sentences are made up of basically the verb, subject, and modifier. The point of view of the author is that the story is told in a third person pronoun, and the grandmother is the mirror of all information, so that when readers comprehend her worldview, then the storyline becomes understandable. The setting is partly founded in Atlanta and Toombsboro, and the rest takes place in the middle of nowhere specific, where the family ends up running and frightened. The plot is chronological, with three significant scenes; where the grandmother warns about the Misfit, the accident takes place, and eventually the moment of grace where the grandma loses her life. All these literary features help shape the themes of the story, including good versus evil, family, religion, and manipulation, as well as society and class.

The Misfit`s character in this text is a complex of individuals whose manners and personality lie of extreme ends, and whose perception of things is not normal to the expectations of either the reader or other characters in the text. While the Misfit manifests with a deep conviction not evidenced in other characters, he is not the kind one would look up to in qualities of moral and spiritual guidance, as he is a wanton killer and violent (Larson 2). Such a premise makes the Misfit lack any redeeming qualities or potential for good. Nevertheless, the Misfit questions everything in life, as opposed to the otherwise fallacious grandmother, whose general assumption is that her superior social position is the litmus test for entirely in truth and reality. He has done a critical analysis of his personality in life, weighed his actions against the rewards of life and established what he calls evidenced truth (Castle 128). Indeed, one of the circumstances through which he believes he never received a fair judgment compels him to rename himself. Like this, because of the inept self-awareness, the Misfit has risen to, the grandmother cannot get to such depts. About her personality, relative to what he does. Indeed, it is even more involving to the reader when the Misfit coins several philosophies that describe his beliefs as an individual, for instance, “no pleasure but meanness” and “the crime doesn't matter” regardless of whether he is not the best, but he is better than others o he believes (Larson 1). The philosophies coined by the Misfit are elements that in his life history is the unsure part about himself and though he is unable to resolve, most remain consistent, and he is loyal to his principles. While the Mist acts in line with what he embraces as right and true, the grandmother is limited, and whenever a challenge approaches then she immediately loses her moral code. Though the nature of his behaving and doing things is not upheld as morally acceptable, has consistency pronounces the conviction he has in his actions throughout the scenes, unlike the indeterminate grandmother who cannot be predicted where she bounces next. Regardless of the weaknesses, the Misfit has in his life, he is capable of maneuvering through challenges, and at the end he remains formidable, as the grandmother falls in glory, considering for once she recognized the Misfit`s strengths and where she held weak most. The character of the Misfit can, therefore, be closely equated to the perception of the author, O’Connor, who called him “a prophet gone wrong,”, meaning, the Misfit could have lasted to the end as a faithful preacher, teacher, and pastor had he remained steadfast to the course of what is held as morally upright (Desmond 130).

The ending of the story is critically tailored by the author so that it is a true reflection of the religion of Catholicism; the amazing grace. O'Connor makes the reader experience the supernatural power, which is God-given, that suddenly makes the grandmother touched beyond expectations to act and speak like a puritan. The element of conviction makes the grandmother view the Misfit for once like a fellow human person, who suffers and perseveres in equal measure as she does. For once, O'Connor`s audience feels that the grandmother has developed a love for the Misfit and the unique atmosphere created is God-given, as, from the worldview, she looked self-centered and selfish, contrary to the new manifestation then. Despite the tragic ending, the final interaction of the two characters is a show of the turning point in the storyline. The Misfit kills the grandmother when she has already had her redemption, and while she lies blissful death, her broad smile is a show of the new beginning she just reached as a significant growth in her life before her breath was cut short. When the grandmother says to the Misfit, “Why you`re one of my babies. You are one of my own children” she has reached a distinct point of confronting the evil in him, and readers immediately learn that the Misfit was not bad, but the forces of darkness in him were (Desmond 136). While she stretches out her hand to touch him, the Misfit responds the way he does because he feels and is compelled by the truthful and emotional message the grandmother delivers. The same reaction forces him to recognize that the only enjoyment in human life is "meanness" for there is “no real pleasure in life" (Desmond 133). As such, the Misfit finds no happiness in killing the grandmother, which is a show of the amazing grace having reached him, and probably that seems to be the turning point in his life.

Works Cited

Castle, Alfred L. “Karl Jaspers and Flannery O'Connor: The Hermeneutic of Being In ‘a Good Man Is Hard to Find.’” Southwest Philosophical Studies 6 (1981). PP. 128–141.

Desmond, John. “Flannery O’conner’s Misfit and the Mystery of Evil.” Renascence 56.2 (2004):. PP.129–137.

Larson, Susan T. “A Good Man Is Hard to Find, and Other Stories.” Masterplots, Fourth Edition JN - Masterplots, Fourth Edition 2010. PP. 1–2.

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