English and Literature
Submitted By nkosub1
Prophet Gone Wrong The misfit and the unnamed grandmother in “A Good Man Is Hard to Find” by Flannery O’Conner has many different characters that are introduced but none learn more or reveal as much about themselves as the misfit and the grandmother do. It is hard to determine who the central character is in the short story the grandmother or the misfit because O’Conner spends great effort describing these two characters. Nothing happens in the story without the opinion of either character. While the grandmother is older and has a lot to learn the misfit is younger and has a lot to teach. The misfit with his violent killing is an unlikely source to look to for moral guidance but he shows more depth and understanding of the world than the grandmother. For instance the grandmother says “I wouldn’t take my children in any direction with a criminal like that aloose in it”(367) when she doesn’t even know the man she is speaking of. Her first initial reaction to the misfit is disgust and pity she looks down upon him because she believes she is morally better than he is. She has never once looked into herself and her own decisions to see if she is being morally correct. She condemns all of humanity “People are certainly not nice like they used to be “(370) she says to strangers. She constantly is criticizing everyone else about how they are unjust and wrong with their actions; but she never looks at herself to see her own hypocrisy and dishonesty. Like when she sneaks the cat into the car without permission and lies to the children about a secret panel in the house so she can have her way and go see the house she once made fond memories in. The misfit is a man of many colors and experiences he says “I was a gospel singer for a while; Been in the arm service, both land and sea, at home and abroad, been twict married, been an undertaker, been with the railroads, plowed mother earth, been in a tornado, seen a man burnt alive oncet.” (375) He questions life and the roll he plays in it he looks inside himself and considers all his actions. One example of this is when he says to the grandmother “Nome, I aint a good man, but I aint the worst in the world neither.”(374) He has self-awareness of who he really is something that the grandmother does not have. His beliefs and actions may not be morally correct but they are strong and steadfast something that the grandmother also lacks. I believe that these traits make the misfit not insane but saner than any of the other characters in the story most definitely more sane than the grandmother. The misfit is sane and still carries some normality’s within himself he agrees with the grandmother that he “Must come from nice people!”(373) Because he says “God never made a finer woman than my mother and my daddy’s heart was pure gold.”(373) He also apologizes to the ladies “I’m sorry I don’t have on a shirt before you ladies, we borrowed these from some folks we met” (374) he explained.
The grandmother however shows more signs than him of being insane and having less conviction because as soon as she figures out that the stranger is the misfit she changes her tune and becomes a lying old woman begging for her life. She’s not acting like a “lady” as she refers to herself over and over but a floosy throwing herself and her dishonest compliments at the misfit in desperation. She says repeatedly to the misfit “I just know you’re a good man” (374) she also says that “Maybe they put you in by mistake”(375). But the misfit says that he belonged in jail and he takes responsibility for his actions. I think that this is the main distinction between the misfit and the grandmother. The grandmother cant take responsibility for her actions as well as changing her definition of people and morale’s to fit her current situations. Like when she has nothing but nice things to say about the misfit when her life is on the line. I find this story somewhat ironic in the sense that if the grandmother lived her life more like the misfit in the sense that she didn’t lie or act so selfish she would have not of put her family in the misfits path and harms way. If the grandmother would have not been so adamant about going to see the old house and Lied about the secret panel to manipulate the children and force their father to take the abandon road they would have never crossed paths with the misfit. Also if she hadn’t of acted selfish and secretly taken her cat on the road trip they would have never gotten in the wreck on the dirt road and need the misfits help. Another thing that she never apologizes to her family about making them take the detour when she was wrong about the location in the first place and being responsible for the unfortunate event of the wreck. Although she does have an epiphany right before she dies she say’s “Why you’re one of my babies. You’re one of my own children!” She finally realizes that she to is like the misfit and the rest of humanity she is flawed and not superior. (WC 904)
Meyer, Michael The Compact Bedford Introduction To Literature. 9th edition. Boston, New York: Bedford/ St. Martin’s, 2000. Print.…...