A Good Man Is Hard to Find: Who’s the Real Misfit?
Who’s the Real Misfit? Amanda Ciske Considered one of Flannery O’Connor’s best short stories, “A Good Man Is Hard to Find” portrays a family that sets out on what seems to be a comical adventure. The story takes a drastic turn when the family encounters a violent criminal, who murders them one by one. Throughout the short story, O’Connor develops not only the characters, but the following themes: family relationships, faith and morality. In the short story ‘”A Good Man is Hard to Find”, the theme of family relationships is evident. Within in the dysfunctional family there are many relationships developed.
There are two obnoxious children, one power hungry father, a busy wife tending to her newborn and an intolerable grandmother. The children’s relationship with their family is not seen as uncommon in that it is stereotypical that children of today have absolutely no respect for their elders. The grandmother attempts to keep the children in line and emphasizes that people are not nice like they used to be. While passing a colored person, the children are being impolite to their parents and the grandmother reminds them to be respectful.
After the stern reminder, the grandmother looks out the window and says “’Oh look at the cute little pickainny! Wouldn’t that make a picture? ’” (O’Connor 2). The grandmother had just advised the children to be respectful, yet, she makes a foul racist comment immediately after. The father of the children, Bailey, also requests that the children behave. In a stressful situation, Bailey looses his temper and threatens the family by saying “’Will you all just shut up for one second? If you don’t shut up, we won’t go anywhere. ’” (O’Connor 4).
Both the grandmother and father insist that the children are respectful, but they themselves do not set an example within the family. O’Connor develops the theme of family relationships in this short story. The second apparent theme revolves around faith and Jesus. The grandmother claims she is a noble Christian, but she only prays to Jesus to convince the Misfit to spare her life. The grandmother is faced with a stressful situation that truly awakens her faith. One could assume that the Misfit has taken the idea of faith more seriously. The Misfit’s doubt in
Jesus helps him conclude there is no difference between right and wrong. The Misfit says “’She (the grandmother) would of been a good woman, if it had been somebody there to shoot her every minute of her life. ’” (O’Connor 9). In the final moment of the grandmother’s life the Misfit realizes that she is not a good woman, she is flawed. The Misfit also notes that when the grandmother faces her death she has the ability to be a good woman and if she would have lived she could have gained the compassion and understanding that she lacked. The grandmother needed to be reminded of the importance of faith.
Finally the grandmother says “’You’re one of my own children! ’” (O’Connor 8). By comparing herself to the Misfit, the grandmother recognizes that she is not superior and discovers how similar she is to the Misfit. Only at the moment of her death the grandmother finds Jesus. O’Connor develops the theme of faith and Jesus in this short story. Lastly, the theme of morality is developed. It is not unreasonable for one to consider the Misfit’s violent actions to be immoral. But, it is actually the unnamed grandmother’s morals that are hopeless.
The grandmother believes she is morally superior, but she weakly accepts her faith, discriminates, lies and manipulates her family. The Misfit’s moral code is consistent unlike the grandmothers. I would consider the grandmother to be the real misfit. O’Connor develops the theme of morality in this short story. O’Connor develops the grandmother and the Misfit through the following themes: family relationships, faith and morality. After reading “A Good Man is Hard to Find,” I believe one should not take their family for granted, embrace their faith and question their morality.