“A Good Man is Hard to Find” teaches that selfishness does nothing good. Being self-centered has a slew of negative repercussions, and one of the repercussions is that when someone is selfish, they suffer together with the people they care about. In O’Connor’s short story, the grandmother’s selfishness results in her family’s death (O’Connor 10). It confronts us with an odd morality in which immoral individuals possess integrity, hypocrisy, and moral corruption. It seems to be magnetically attracted to outwardly “nice” people (O’Connor 13). The grandma liberally applies the term “good,” diluting the notion of a “good guy” to the point where the label loses all consequences.
She first employs Red Sammy when screaming heatedly about people’s universal lack of trustworthiness. He queries why he agreed two strangers trust their fuel, believing he had been tricked. The granny says he did so because he is a “good person.” Therefore, her description of “good” appears to encompass gullibility, imprudence, and unsighted faith; none are genuinely “good.” She then declares the Misfit to be “good” after recognizing him (O’Connor 23). She inquires whether he would shoot a lady, even though he never expressly answers that he would not. Since being a woman is so important to the grandma’s moral code, the Misfit’s remark reveals that he does not share her moral code. The granny urgently appeals to him as a good man, as if evoking some innate value that the Misfit cannot reject. Her explanation of “great” is slanted, based nearly wholly on her assertion that her absences are “common blood.”
The grandmother’s thoughtless usage of the phrase “good person” shows that “good” does not necessarily imply “moral” or “gentle.” A guy is a “good man,” rendering the grannie, provided his ideas align with hers (O’Connor 23). Red Sammy is “wonderful” for the trust’s individuals naively and pines for simpler periods, together of which the granny can narrate to. She reasoned that the Misfit is “good” since he would not shoot a woman, a denial that would correspond to her moral code. Her assumption is, of course, erroneous. The Misfit’s one redeemable trait is his determination to fulfill his ethical code of “no pleasure but meanness.” Even with their numerous flaws, crimes, and shortcomings, the grandma and the Misfit together receive Grace.
According to Christian divinity, humans are rescued by God’s refinement or kindness, which God easily grants on even the most unlikely receivers. From this book, God has the authority to accept even the evilest people to paradise, which he accomplishes via the gift of Grace. Grace’s grandmother is an unlikely contender. She deceives her grandchildren, influences her son, and continually emphasizes the insufficiency of the current and the advantage of the past. She seems to be ignorant of her surroundings and lacks self-awareness. The grandmother, confident in her moral superiority, believes she is equipped to appraise the blimey of others and to teach others how to spend their lives. She does, however, have a moral flaw. She tells the Misfit, for example, to pray, despite her own inability to make a meaningful prayer (O’Connor 27). She changes her mind regarding Jesus’ resurrection as she becomes more fearful of what may happen to her. For his part, the Misfit is an unrepentant killer. Both are “evil” persons in their ways, and both are improbable, even undeserving recipients of mercy.
On the other hand, Grace falls on both of them, showing that God can save even grandmothers and outcasts. The grandmother, stimulated by the Misfit’s desire to recognize for certain what Jesus did and did not do. A moment of Grace when her mind clears, and she exclaims, “Why, you’re one of my kids!” “You’re a member of my own family!” The Misfit is not the grandmother’s biological child; instead, this refers to how she regards both of them as human beings. Even though her reply looked improper, if not mad, in light of the circumstances, this is the grandmother’s most lucid moment in the story. She is intelligent, but more importantly, she is kind, and God had given her Grace just before she died. At the time, the Misfit is also open to Grace. While he earlier claimed that there is “nothing but meanness” in life, he now claims there is no joy. Killing no longer offers him delight, signaling that he, too, is capable of change.
The short story by O’Connor is used to highlight the transformational power of compassion and Grace in human relationships. It is necessary to transform the two-character archetypes, personified by the grandmother and the Misfit, to effectively convey the narrative’s meaning. Those who are righteous do righteous things, while those who are wronged do wrong. Flannery O’Connor characterizes the grandmother as nice and the Misfit as bad. Being good or evil is not defined by your upbringing or the kind of household you come from; instead, it is determined by the decisions and acts throughout your life.
O’Connor, Flannery. A Good Man is Hard to Find: And Other Stories. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 1955.