A Good Man Is Hard To Find Novel

In Flannery O'Connor's A Good Man Is Hard to Find the contrast of good and evil is not as evident as it appears. The road on which the family in the story travels symbolizes good until the family makes a detour onto a dirt road that leads to their demise. Grandmother is the reason for the detour. She is the unlikely antagonist. A serial killer named, The Misfit, is the protagonist despite his homicidal actions. Both characters help illustrate how a relationship with God is good and sac religious behavior is evil.

The Grandmother leads the family down the dirt road by enticing the children with stories of a plantation she visited in her youth. "There was a secret panel in this house," she said craftily, not telling the truth but wishing that she were, "and the story went that all the family silver was hidden in it when Sherman came through but it was never found..." Grandmother lets her nostalgic thoughts lead her, and her family to doom. Once on the dirt road, the family has an accident, another situation that was spurred by Grandmother. Grandmother's cat startled Bailey and the car ran into a ditch. Grandmother knew she had been the cause of her family's predicament. "The Grandmother was curled up under the dashboard, hoping she was injured so that Bailey's wrath would not come down on her all at once. The horrible thought she had had before was that the house she has so vividly remembered was not in Georgia but in Tennessee." Though the events seem coincidental, they were indeed for a specific purpose. The purpose...for God to reclaim what was rightfully his.

The family encounters The Misfit on their detour. The Misfit is wearing no shirt, which is a direct parallel to Grandmother whom had dressed in " collars and cuffs that were white organdy trimmed with lace" so that she could be identified as a lady "in case of an accident". "I'm sorry I don't have on a shirt before you ladies...". The Misfit explains for his appearance. He too, was going to do what he considered to be God's work. All during the ordeal, the Grandmother asked The Misfit to pray. "Do you ever pray?" she asked. She acted as if she was extremely religious and that she needed to save The Misfit's soul because "she knew he was a good, man". In all actuality, The Misfit saved Grandmother. By forcing her and her family back to God from whence they came. "She found herself saying Jesus, Jesus meaning, Jesus will help you...". The Misfit answers as if he is God, "Yes'm" comparing his self to God and by doing so, took on God's role and judged the old woman for being sac religious and only believing in God for her own selfish reasons. The fact that the old woman only mentioned God at the end of the story when she was trying to save her life, suggest that she let her southern life serves as her religion. By letting her life in the south serve as a surrogate religion, she becomes the sac religious antagonist.

Grandmother creates the family's down fall by forcing them down a memory, which doesn't exist. "The thought was so embarrassing that she jumped up...the house she had remembered was in Georgia not Tennessee." Grandmother by the end of the story, is no longer the subtle antagonist. She is blatant. If Grandmother were to be removed from the story, no harm would befall the family. Thus, proving that the Grandmother is the direct source of evil. The Misfit saves the family from Grandmother through killing them. He redirects their souls back from whence they came. The Misfit says that Grandmother "...would have been a good woman had somebody been there to shoot her every day of her life". Had some one been there to redeem Grandmother's soul everyday of her life she would have been a better woman. The Misfit serial killer serves as the protagonist and source of good by respectfully returning Grandmother and her family to God. Good and evil are demonstrated through the symbols that the two characters Grandmother and The Misfit portray. Good wins only in death.




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Mann Erudite – Essays on Literary Works