Books and Movies Reviews

Murderous Redemption in Flannery O'Connor's Short Story "A Good Man is Hard To Find"

Flannery O'Connor's short story entitled "A Good Man is Hard to Find" tells the story of a rather unpleasant typical American family who meets their demise at the hands of a so-called Misfit or outlaw figure.The Misfit is clearly interested in religion, like many renegades. Before he enacts his revenge upon society, he speculates upon the morality of Jesus and the injustice of his previous confinement. This grotesque faith is not seen as hypocritical in the context of the tale, as it might in the eyes of another author. Rather O'Connor sees The Misfit as injecting spirituality into an otherwise morally bankrupt clan through the example he presents of thwarted spiritual longing and the injustice of modern, secular America.
Before The Misfit turns against the family, the grandmother seems to apprehend, however reluctantly, some goodness in the heart of The Misfit. "Listen," the grandmother tells him, "you shouldn't call yourself The Misfit because I know you're a good man at heart.I can just look at you and tell." (O'Connor, 1955, p. 15)The grandmother learns from speaking to the man who will eventually murder her that The Misfit believes he was poorly treated by society during his early life, which is why he is determined to enact his revenge upon the world. "Why you're one of my babies. You're one of my own children," says the grandmother. (O'Connor, 1955, p.21)
O'Connor seems to suggest that, as difficult as it may be to connect with other individuals, from other walks of life, right before death some spiritual insight or connection does become possible, even between individuals as different as The Misfit and the grandmother. This is what O'Connor means when The Misfit speaks the grandmother's epitaph to his less astute accomplice after he has murdered the family: "She would have been a good woman…if it had been someb…

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