“A Good Man is Hard to Find” (story)

In Flannery O’Connor’s short story, “A Good Man is Hard to Find”, a southern family is taking a vacation to Florida, but the real journey takes place inside the family’s lives. One question that comes up in the story is what the definition of a good man is and how there is so few of them left in the world. The grandmother referred Mr. Teagarden as a gentleman because he “had bought Coca-Cola stock when it first came out and that he had died only a few years ago, a very wealthy man” (Foster, 358). Many of the characters in the story think of themselves as good people based on moral codes are deeply flawed therefore, leaving each character blinded by their own affiliations. In “A Good Man is Hard to Find” by Flannery O’Connor, the author uses the character of the grandmother to show the dangers of self-centeredness, she still describes herself as a good woman, a lady. Throughout the story, the grandmother’s selfishness, judgmental actions, dishonesty, and forgetfulness put the family in danger. The death of her family is caused by the lack of the grandmother’s self-awareness about characteristics that lead up to it. This story has to do with the nature of good and evil and degradation of society over time. One thing that marks it is the vividness of the characters, the smart aleck children, the father who doesn’t seems to do anything, but he is angry enough to throw a cat against the tree at one point. Another point is where he tells something mean to his mother that the criminal gives him a reprehend. The mother is quite absent in the story expect she is described as “whose face was a broad and innocent as a cabbage.” Then later after the accident nobody was hurt, yet the mother only had scratch on her face and a broken shoulder thus demonstrating how unimportant she is.

They’re all these conflicting characters that doesn’t even get to the two-key character’s in the story. The grandmother does a lot of good things, she kind of holds the family together, she seems to parent the children in the way the children’s parents don’t want to do, but then she’s also is a racist. In many ways she could be blame for the death of her entire family because: she was the one who brought the cat along which caused the accident, she’s the one to go off the road to go find the house, she’s the one who didn’t correct them when she realizes in fact the house they were after was not even in the same state, and lastly she’s the one to recognize The Misfit. All of these are things she did that potentially put her family at risk and make her an evil selfish character despite of the appearance of being a good person.

The Misfit who on the other hand is a craze murder who has a memory lapse about why how he was in prison in the first place. He calls himself the Misfit because the crimes that he committed don’t seem to match the punished he has paid for. He doesn’t seem to know in fact if he killed his father or not, but that why they sent him to jail for. This is a big cause in the story. Did he kill his father or not? Because if he did then he obviously deserves and his nuts. But if he didn’t then he was wrongfully put into jail the first place, and everything that’s followed is just sort of unjust avenge for that. Then there’s also this curious thing about the Misfit that he seems to be more conscientious than thoughtful than any of the other characters. The Misfit has been brought up to the idea that the Misfit even though he’s the killer, he’s the one who’s in the story to provide the hypocritical grandmother with an opportunity to recognize a true religious act of grace. The primary thing that causes the Misfit trouble is that he can’t get around the biblical idea of Jesus raise Lazarus from the dead. This causes a lot of problem for the him because he is incapable of making the leap of faith to believe in this. Because of that he’s not able to get on board with the idea of Jesus as the savior. As he says “Jesus was the only One that ever raised the dead, and He shouldn’t have done it. He thrown everything off balance. If He did what He said, then it’s nothing for you to do but throw away everything and follow him, and if he didn’t, then it’s nothing for you to do but enjoy the few minutes you got left the best way you can” (Foster, 365-366). This whole entire element of him being very conscientious, he’s quite likely has thought more about religion than the grandmother has. Flannery O’ Connor who was a religious person herself is making a commentary, and that the person who considers herself, potentially to be a good Christian, the grandmother in fact is kind of terrible person. However, the person whom is more conflictive and more thoughtful about god, religion, and Misfit is the who’s society frowns down upon because Misfit is a criminal.

The Misfit brings up this question whether Jesus in fact raise Lazarus from the dead and the grandmother who supposedly is somebody who has faith then she say right there towards the end of the story, “Maybe He didn’t raise the dead,” the old lady mumbled, not knowing what she was saying and feeling so dizzy that she sank down in the ditch with her legs twisted under her.” In this very moment the grandmother has the crisis of faith she losses the faith that she always thought she had. Which proves that she was never really that faithful to begin with. Furthermore, she pushed heavily and which all the rest of her family has already been killed and she’s the only one left she is not able to maintain the believe system that she spoken about so far but never actually embodied. Yet, the story moves, “I wasn’t there so I can’t say He didn’t,” the Misfit said. “I wisht I had of been there,” he said, hitting the ground with his fist. “It ain’t right I wasn’t there because if I had been there I would of known. Listen lady he said in a high voice, if I had been there I would of known and I wouldn’t be like I am now.” His voice seemed about to crack, and the grandmother’s head cleared for an instant. She saw the man’s face twisted close to her own as if he were going to cry and she murmured, “Why you’re one of my babies. You’re one of my own children!” (Foster,366). This is the key moment of the story when the grandmother realizes that the Misfit this criminal is in fact somebody who she is responsible for and that it’s part of the great mystery. However, this the first time literally that she cared about somebody else more that she cared about herself. So then, she reaches out to him, yet he is so stricken by it that he shoots her dead. Misfit stated that “she would’ve been a good woman, if it had been somebody there to shoot her every minute of her life” (Foster,366). This quote is an opportunity for the Misfit to point out that the grandmother only when she is really pushed to the edge of things is she giving the opportunity to be something more than a better person.

Who’s good and evil Misfit or the Grandmother? In many ways they both have bad and goodness within them and this story for all their complications in the short story. I’d say there’s not a lot of good people left. The world is different it’s not as quite as good as it once was and Flannery O’ Conner starts there and gets to an incredible dramatic action which makes it a great story.

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“A good man is hard to find” (story). (2021, Mar 17). Retrieved October 7, 2022 , from

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