This literary research paper will investigate analyses conducted by scholars in recent years and will present a unique argument about the literary work, “A Good Man is Hard to Find”, written by Flanner O’Connor. Taking place in Georgia, this story is comprised of the main theme centralized around what the grandmother, the main character, defines as a good person is. Throughout the story, she provides examples of who she believes is a good person, whether it is a fool or a Misfit in society. However, this story ultimately unfolds the consequence of ignoring the key characteristics of a person, where the grandmother and her family finally face their own demise. By the end of this literary research paper, the audience will gain a unique perspective on the type of character the grandmother was and portrayed.
All throughout the story, the grandmother considers herself as a morally superior being that surpasses the expectations of what a lady is. She symbolizes her boastful attitude with her hat. Her hat represents her moral code. She wears this hat throughout the entire story constantly adjusting it to fit her head just right. In her judgment, she highly prioritizes her image to be regarded as a lady at all times. This exhibits selfishness. However, once her precious hat is destroyed from a car accident, so do her moral convictions. In addition, she expects her family to follow the same moral code as her. For example, she criticized the children’s mother for not traveling to a place that would allow the children to be broad and compares the children’s mother’s face to a cabbage.
Further along the story, she follows this pattern of criticism and carries it on over to John Wesley for not respecting his home state ultimately adding on that there is no goodness in people in modern days. However, she lacked in holding herself accountable for meeting the same standards she placed on others. Never did she judge herself for own dishonesty. For example, she was reluctant to reveal her mistake about the location of the house that ultimately led to her and her family to crash. Furthermore, she displayed further selfishness when she failed to beg the Misfit to spare her daughter’s and children’s lives; although she did for her own.
On the other side, the Misfit also questions himself as either a good or bad character. He questions the meaning of life and moreover, his role in it. He takes a moment and considers his actions before following through with his murders ultimately understanding that there will be consequences, that is, life lessons. He understands that he is not a great man but instead of holding his own standard, he does not consider himself such a bad person because he believes there are worse than him. Throughout the story, the Misfit is perceived as a bad man who is on the road recently escaped from a federal penitentiary, no good can come when you are faced with a killer who has blood on his hands. When he said, “She would have been a good woman… if it had been somebody there to shoot her every minute of her life.” It shows how at the end she wasn’t “for that one brief epiphany at the end, good. (Sustana, Catherine),” but that she was still a bad person even though she realized what she truly was.
Nevermore, they have their differences along the way, whether it is their personalities or life-style. The grandmother assumes that she is morally superior to everyone else based on her own standards, while the Misfit does not know the meaning of life and where he fits into it. The Misfit has consistent philosophies like “no pleasure but meanness” and “the crime don’t matter”. He has a steady view of life and acts according to what he believes is right. Meanwhile, the grandmother’s moral code falls apart once it’s challenged, making her inconsistent to what she believes in. Moreover, the grandmother accepts faith unquestioningly and weakly, whereas the Misfit challenges religious beliefs and thinks that it is pointless.
However, it is not until the end that you realize just how much alike they really are. It is until she faces death does she truly realize where she has gone wrong in her life. She no longer looked at herself as superior, but as being flawed just like everyone else. Once she told the Misfit that he is “one of her own children”, she is showing that she has found the ability to connect with the Misfit through understanding. “Some critics disagree on the meaning of those lines, but they could possibly indicate that the grandmother finally recognizes the connectedness among human beings. (Sustana, Catherine)” It was at this pivotal moment in the story that we gain an understanding of the morale of the story.
A recurring theme in the story is the sentimental yearning for the happiness of a former place or time. During the car trip, the grandmother obtains a sense of nostalgia thinking back to Edgar Adkins, someone who would bring her watermelon’s every weekend. She and Red Sammy thought of how people were more trusting in the past. Even the Misfit remembered things his father would use to say to him. According to them, the present life is abundant with doubt and unhappiness. In a way, this belief allows them to stop short of deeply exploring their own potential for goodness being that they convinced themselves that the world is not helpful to it.
The grandmother presented herself as a lady holding everyone to a standard besides herself, thinking that she was never bad person. She portrayed herself as someone who saw the good in everyone no matter how truly bad they were until she met the Misfit. The Misfit was a bad man but stuck to a constant moral code. “The only good man to be shown throughout the story is the Misfit…” (An Analysis of a Good Man Is Hard to Find English Literature Essay)”. Neither the grandmother nor the Misfit is considered good people in this story based on the fact that he is a heartless criminal and she is unaware of the harm she causes. Once she was faced with death did she realize all the things she has said and done that fail her to fit as a good person. This story truly showed how these two people were raised completely differently and went through multiple vast life lessons, but in the end, they really did not have much of a difference comparing one to another.