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A Good Man Is Hard to Find Literary Analysis

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Ejenavi Okolosi

ENG 194

Professor Rademaekers

28 September 2015

Literary Analysis Essay

A Good Man is Hard to Find is an unexpectedly violent short story written by Flannery O’Connor in 1953. It is about a family who are going on vacation in Florida but The Grandmother insists that they visit Tennessee instead. On the way there it is seen that The Grandmother has hidden her cat away in the car, even though her son disapproves of the cat tagging along. As they are driving The Grandmother tells her grandchildren stories and reminisces on how good she remembers the past being. She manages to convince her son, Bailey, with the help of the children, to go to a house she says she remembers from years ago.

As they are driving to the house, the cat jumps from its hiding spot and startles Bailey into crashing the car. They run into the Misfit, who The Grandmother foolishly says she recognizes. The Misfit informs her that she should not have said this and he and his group lead the family into the woods to kill them. Before The Grandmother is killed, though, she has a conversation with the Misfit about religion, and she seems to really only be genuine with wanting him to have salvation in order to save herself. Right before the Misfit shoots her three times, she touches his shoulder and tells him that he is on of her children. With this violent ending, O’Connor raises questions about faith and doubt through the characters of The Grandmother and the Misfit. I will be using metaphorical analysis in order to explore these themes in the story.

Almost half of the story passes with no mention of either faith or Jesus. The lack of anything religious in the whole first half of this story shows that religion is often put on the back burner and is only called upon when something is needed or people feel that they are in trouble. This is true for The Grandmother. She is very selfish and self centered for the majority of the story. The story starts off with “The Grandmother didn't want to go to Florida. She wanted to visit some of her connection in east Tennessee and she was seizing at every chance to change Bailey’s mind”( O’Connor). From the very beginning readers are exposed to the selfishness of The Grandmother. She tries everything in order to get her son to take them to Tennessee, even lying about a house on a plantation that she said she was familiar with, just because that was what she wanted, which is a decision that leads to everyone’s demise.

When they encounter the Misfit and The Grandmother realizes that he is going to kill them she says, “I know you're a good man. You don’t look a bit like you have common blood. I know you must come from nice people!” John Desmond says of this scene that “it suggests Christ’s rebuke to Peter when Peter tried to call him good and Jesus responded that no one should be called good” (129). She repeats this a few times towards the end of the story without really getting anywhere with the Misfit. The Misfit, ironically, says the same thing that Jesus did, which was, “Nome, I ain’t a good man, but I ain’t the worst in the world neither” (O’Connor). This is ironic because while the Misfit is meant to exemplify evil he ends up embodying Jesus in this moment.

Although we are lead to believe through the Misfit’s actions that he is evil he counters The Grandmother’s statement with his Christ-like words. He goes on to say that his father told him “its some that can live their whole life out without asking about it and its others has to know why it is, and this boy is on of the latter. He's going to be into everything”

(O’Connor). From the time he was a child till now, the Misfit was said to be skeptical about the world. He does not blindly follow religion like The Grandmother seems to, and this perfectly displays the doubt he feels in regards to faith. Desmond says, “that his conversation with The Grandmother reveals many things about his deeper desires, the most important of which is that the Misfit wants some rationale and justification for his spiritual predicament” (129). The Misfit just wants to understand the world and religion, like many people, but he is unable to do so. He cannot understand because he needs to see things to believe them, and this is seen when he told The Grandmother that he could not say whether or not Jesus rose the dead because he was not there.

The Misfit is doubtful of his faith, though, he does not totally reject it. The Grandmother tells him, “if you want to pray, Jesus would help you” and the Misfit agrees

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