O’Connor was a southern american writer whose work often included a religious theme, based upon her experiences growing up as a Catholic. While O’Connors has written many novels like “Wise Blood” and “The Violent Bear It Away” and other short stories. “A Good Man is Hard to Find” is widely acknowledged because she shows ethics, morality and race by grandma embodying the good Christian hero when she faces death while misfits being the villain.
The characters of “A Good Man is Hard to Find” live by variety of moral codes, and both the story title and the grandmother’s conversation about Red Sam brings the idea about goodness, and what makes a good man. In the end, the grandma insists that the misfit – who just killed her entire family is a good man. The Grandmother seems to believe that being a good person means being honest, respectful, and polite. Without knowing Red Sammy the grandmother tells him “.. you’re a good man” (O’Connor, #).
Even though all she has seen right through him, in that, he only shows friendliness and nostalgia in order to help his business. The grandmother thinks he is good because he was willing to help a decent person. Speaking to the the Misfit, she repeatedly she insists that he would not shoot an old lady. She tries to manipulate the Misfit by bringing Jesus into the situation. “Jesus!”…. I know you wouldn’t shoot a lady! .. Pray! Jesus, you ought not to shoot a lady.
I’ll give you all the money I’ve got!” (O’Connor,#). The grandmother offers the Misfit money, after he has killed her family. To which, the Misfit does not take her seriously, and makes a joke in response. Her sense of goodness is based on traditional morals that, even in the face of murder, and her old age will prevent Misfit from murdering her. The Misfit claims that he’s not a good person, because he views crime in a casual matter to make the most of his life. Other then when he is talking to the grandmother, he does not seem to compare himself against any standard of good character, thus he does not consider himself to be morally wicked.
O’Conner does not attempt to answer what true “Goodness”. By presenting different and ironic models of “good person”- the grandmother, Bailey, Red Sammy- she makes the reader feel the dubiety of morality itself. Then, she brings the Misfit whose very reality threatens of any kind of “goodness”. The discussion between the grandmother and the Misfit evokes ideas of punishment and forgiveness. A thought is presented in Misfit’s word: “does it seem right to you, lady, that one is punished a heap and another ain’t punished at all?” (O’Conner). The Misfit doesn’t even remember why he was put in prison therefore thought he didn’t do anything wrong, and should not have punished for. on the other hand, the grandmother, ends up causing the death of her whole family simply by just mentioning that she recognizes the Misfit. This was a clearly a mistake, resulting suffering from the “Crime”.
O’Connor shows the unflinching of her christian faith. Even though the grandmother forgives the Misfit for all his misbehaviors, such as intending to kill her, she gains nothing but a moment of grace, and she is killed anyways. At the story’s end, however, see that that the grandma’s forgiveness might mean something to the Misfit.
Earlier in their conversation, but after the grandmother reaches out and insists that he still must be a good person, The Misfit chastises his henchman for suggesting that there was “pleasure” in the murders. The Misfit has been changed by the redemptive power of her forgiveness. Each character suffers beyond what they may deserve, but that does not rob forgiveness of its value and power.At the end of the story, The Misfit says of the grandmother, “She would of been a good woman . . . if it had been somebody there to shoot her every minute of her life.” (O’Connor).
O’Connor does not believe that being exposed to violence makes us better people, but it’s clear that violence changes us. As O’Connor said when delivering remarks on the story, “I have found that violence is strangely capable returning my characters to reality and preparing them to accept their moment of grace.” (O’Connor, #). Up until the very end, each member of the family, specifically the Grandmother, acts almost exclusively out of self-interest. The family does not consider whether their actions are right or wrong, and their beliefs? religion and grace, or even how to take into account the needs of others. They simply act on their petty instincts without much reflection or moral thought. But when the grandmother is subjected to violence and forced to confront her own impending death, she is suddenly capable of a more authentic and spiritual experience. The Grandmother’s everyday considerations are likely the most petty and banal of anyone in her family, but when she is faced with her own mortality she encounters an unexpected moment of “grace”—she feels as if the Misfit were her own son, and reaches out, physically, hoping to save or comfort him.
In Christian tradition (and O’Connor was a Catholic) “grace” means the unearned favor of God, but in many of O’Connor’s stories, grace is more specifically signifies a moment of beauty and truth that is divine in nature—an epiphany that can pierce through the harshness or pettiness of life. In the end, however, the Grandmother’s “moment of grace” only results in her death. O’Connor’s world is a harsh one, and grace does not come easily. Instead, it is often accompanied by suffering, violence, and death. For someone like the Grandmother, who is so caught up in everyday banality and her own self-interest—someone so insensitive to real life—only the harsh awakening delivered by violence can cause her to open her eyes and experience something on a different, more spiritual plane.Only at the story’s end do we get the slightest hint of familial love. Not only does the grandmother shout “Bailey Boy! Bailey Boy!” (O’Connor, #), as the only real affectionate moment inside her family, but she then goes on to refer to the Misfit as her own son.
The story opens with the Grandmother trying to show Bailey an article and being completely ignored. Her grandchildren openly mock her. The Grandmother wants to go to Tennessee, the kids want to do whatever looks fun, and Bailey wants to just keep driving toward Florida. Not only is there constant conflict between the family members and their individual wishes, but this conflict is almost never acknowledged.
Instead, the family members mostly ignore and mock one another. Ultimately, it takes the arrival of violence to get any members of the family to display their actual love for each other. When Bailey is taken off to the forest, Bailey’s wife cries out. The Grandmother, who is usually so petty and insensitive to life, and always in conflict with her family, cries out “Bailey Boy! Bailey Boy!” (O’Connor, #) as her son is killed.
And, finally this familial love extends outward, as the Grandmother reaches for the Misfit, feeling as if he were her own child. Thus, just as violence can bring moments of grace, it can also bring familial love out from beneath everyday arguments and conflict. The idea of familial love then seems to expand to take on a Christian aspect, with the Grandmother feeling love for the Misfit as if every man and woman were part of the same human family.