The intriguing central moment in O’Connor’s story A Good Man is Hard to Find is its ending. Remarkable are the images of two interacting heroes, a grandmother, and the Misfit. A man is a criminal who has served in prison and does not understand why. However, he believes that since they had a paper for the prosecution, then this is fair. This hero appears to the reader as an absolute evil who does not respond to prayers and kills the whole family. At the same time, the grandmother is an adherent of Christianity and tries to see only good in everything, but this is shown too dramatically (Zhao 3). For example, an employee tells her that he is failing and constantly being deceived, to which the grandmother replies, “Because you’re a good man” (O’Connor 5). Moreover, in the most ambiguous scene, she tries to reach the Misfit’s feelings and constantly repeats “pray, pray…” (O’Connor 11). Religiousness and belief are not always rational, exposing the grandmother’s behavior before the trip, the desire to see a sight, and the strange response to the killer.
Grandma is a controversial character who acts differently from her words. She was initially against the However, the following day, she got into the car first and took the cat with her. On the way, eight-year-old John Wesley began asking to drive faster through Georgia not to look at it (O’Connor 3). The grandmother replied that it was disgusting to talk about their states that way, which caused an even greater argument with the elders. As a result, she noted that the children used to be more respectful and did the right thing. It tells the reader about adherence to a particular morality of another time, which the grandmother considered the only truth. From the view of belief, Christianity, like many unproven faiths, is not associated with rationality; hence the vision and actions of people can be distorted. However, she was not going to argue with loved ones but only expressed her point of view. According to Ismail, the grandmother thus tried to show her kindness associated with previous beliefs and faith (36). The heroine’s contradiction can be traced in many aspects, starting with the need for a trip.
The heroine puts her interests above others by the support of children to achieve her own goal. She decides to show the family the places of her youth and intrigues the children with a secret panel (O’Connor 3). It is a rather dangerous undertaking, knowing that a maniac has left the prison in the district, and he may end up in the same place. Adults oppose this idea, but the heroine speaks more and more about the beautiful location and convinces everyone to go there. As a result, they have a cat accident, and some passengers are seriously injured. It is one of the events that led to the heroine’s moral transformation at the end of the story. Additionally, the grandmother is a rather prim and proud character, as can be seen in her dress and hat, which she put on to die beautifully, if anything. Only when she realized that the whole family was being killed and she was the last, the heroine considerably grew mentally (Hyun). The absence of rational fear and the imposition of the desired on others can lead to unpleasant consequences for everyone.
The situation at the end is worth considering from the side of both the grandmother and the killer to understand the story’s central message. When talking with a criminal, the woman at first did not realize who was in front of her, and then she understood and resorted to persuasion by faith. The situation became critically serious when criminals started killing her family, and she told the Misfit to pray(O’Connor 5). On the one hand, she blindly followed the faith and could really think that spiritual values would help. On the other hand, the grandmother could be controlled by selfishness and the desire to live. In any case, her behavior shows how far she is detached from the real world (Pimentel 219). An impressive event happened when she decided to use the last option of salvation. The grandmother calls the killer her son and hopes to awaken kindness in him. This behavior looks like the madness of religiosity, or it can be perceived as a distortion of the true feelings of faith. In the last minutes of her life, the heroine realized a lot and probably revised her life principles.
The image of the killer is built on the opposite negative personality traits that they show in the behavior. He just got out of prison, and there is no rational reason to kill the whole family. However, their behavior was influenced by a conversation with his grandmother, which could only reinforce the intention to harm. The man noticed the transformation of the older woman, sarcastically remarking that she could be a good person if the gun barrel were pointed at her every day. This contradiction shows the reader how the essence of a person manifests itself in a critical situation. Faithful people experience the destruction of their selfishness and pride very hard, and there is some comedy in this. Perhaps, if the grandmother had defended the family, and not just her own, the end of the story may have been different. Humanity is present in everyone and can be awakened using the correct methods. From the alternative view, the Misfit acts as a positive character who helps to destroy hypocrisy and blind faith. The idea of juxtaposing two characters gives the reader an alternative perspective on good and bad deeds.
The story A Good Man is Hard to Find exaggerates the character traits and behavior to instill in the reader an understanding of the fallen society. The most striking example is a grandmother who tries to combine Christian principles and her pride. She does not do what she originally wanted because she failed to convince her family to stay home. She takes a cat with her; in various interpretations, this act can express both selfishness and kindness. Then the heroine puts her desires and principles above the general ones. She forgets that she discouraged everyone from going on a trip because of a maniac and insists on visiting an exceptional place from her youth. The gamble turns into an accident, which leads to the injury of some family members. Next, the most controversial scene unfolds, where the reader can see the other side of the grandmother and the killer. She completely goes into faith and rethinks her life principles and values. He realizes this breakthrough, sarcastically reprimands her and then kills her. The story shows how stressful situations can change people and help them grow.
Hyun, Sarah. “A Good Man Is Hard to Find | Sarah Hyun’s Portfolio.” WordPress.Lehigh.Edu, 2018.
Ismail, Sezen. “Humor And Grotesque In Flannery O’Connor’s A Good Man Is Hard To Find.” International Journal of Education & Philology, 2020, pp. 35-39.
O’Connor, Flannery. “A Good Man Is Hard to Find.” WordPress.Lehigh.Edu, 1953.
Pimentel, Maria Cristina. “Violence In ‘A Good Man Is Hard to Find’: The Faces of Marginality.” Gláuks, vol. 7, no. 1, 2017, pp. 216–29.
Zhao, Yang. “The Absurd Theme In ‘A Good Man Is Hard to Find.’” 2017 3rd International Conference on Economy, Management and Education Technology (ICEMET 2017), 2017, pp. 1–3. Crossref, doi:10.25236/icemet.2017.009.