Characters are the main issues in the understanding of the whole written work of any author. The author’s opinion, theme, and ideas are delivered through the characters of the story. It is significant to notice that characters are the main device in the author-reader communication, and an author usually tries to impart all the necessary features on his/her characters with the aim to make the reader understand the author’s main idea and the aim of the story. The Misfit in Flannery O’Connor’s story “A Good Man Is Hard To Find” is the central character of the story, and the author tried to provide the idea of the fusion of the dream and reality through this character.
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Reading the story for the first time, there is the understanding that the main character of the story is grandmother, who considers herself the head of the family, and tries to provide all her desires into action. Her intention was to go to east Tennessee instead of Florida, to take the cat in the car, in spite of the son’s inhibition and other issues which led to unpredictable and terrible consequences. All mentioned facts make the reader consider grandmother as the main character of the story and the person through which the author wanted to impart to the reader the aim and ideas of the story. Reading further, this conviction is lost.
The Misfit enters the story as a separate character, but the reader is intrigued and waits for the culmination in the text when the family and the Misfit are going to meet. The Misfit’s mind is full of complex deductions and conclusions, his mind mixes the real world and nonexistent reality, which are mingled in his mind. The Misfit is the escaped prisoner, who is convinced of the murder of his father. The personality of the Misfit is met during the whole story, but the very character appears at the end of the story to create its culmination.
Having met the Misfit at the end of the story, the ready has already been acquainted with him. During the whole story, the author inserts some information about him, making some stress on his disability to distinguish between real and unreal, between “unremembered crime and original sin” (Graham 146). The first “meeting” with the Misfit occurs at the very beginning of the story from the journal article. The article information is not given, but the description of the situation is given that the man is out of his mind, which may be concluded from the words of grandmother, “I wouldn’t take my children in any direction with a criminal like that aloose in it” (O’Connor par. 1).
The fusion between reality and the imaginary world in the Misfit’s mind may be seen from his telling about two incompatible facts, his parents and his crime. “God never made a finer woman than my mother and my daddy’s heart was pure gold” (O’Connor par. 89) is the Misfit’s recollections from his childhood, as he thinks as the other phrase strikes through the previous said, “I am not a good man… My daddy said I was a different breed of dog from my brothers and sisters” (O’Connor par. 99). This mismatch is the first sign of the innocence of the mixed understanding of the reality and imaginary world.
“Children make me nervous” (O’Connor par. 78) is the Misfit’s expression, which should be analyzed carefully with the aim to understand the reason for his reality and unreality mixture. Having understood that the relation of the Misfit to his father is ambiguous, and his consideration about children allows making the conclusion that a nervous attitude to the children comes from the Misfit’s childhood. The reasons may be different, but the most appropriate one is that the father’s attitude to children was the same. The mismatch of the facts is present, what the Misfit tells about his father’s brilliance and kindness and at the same time about his attitude to children. What is reality and what is imaginary is never explained to the reader?
Considering children and their attitude to the Misfits’ understanding of the situation, it is possible to conclude that his reality has created the vision of children as some monstrous, who can harm him. This is the imaginary world that is created in the Misfit’s mind, but in the real world children are the most innocuous creatures, who were scared to death and could not harm. This shift from one reality to the other did not give the Misfit the opportunity to provide his own understanding of the situation, in other words, the situation was not evaluated properly by the Misfit because of his ill perception of the surrounding reality.
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The end of the story is the other proof that the Misfit is the person with an ill understanding of the world and the realities fusion. Grandmother’s desire to save her life makes her turn to religion. She starts asking the Misfit to pray for himself, provides some facts about him as a good man, and saying that he was like her son. Being too talkative spoils everything. The Misfit seems to change his mind, but the mentioning of the religion, God, and him to be her son, shifts the Misfit to his imaginary world, where his evil essence puts him in a bag, and he shoots Grandmother without any explanations.
The last words are of the most significant and are the core idea of the story, “It’s no real pleasure in life” (O’Connor par. 142). The Misfit understands that the fact that he has killed people is not the fan, and at the same time he is sure that the affair is in his mind, is not a reality. Grandmother’s words provided some impact on the Misfit as he began to understand the value of life, the value of a fan, and the things which should be worthed. The story may be paralleled with real life, where people often create their imaginary worlds and cannot perceive reality in a proper way.
In conclusion, the story “A Good Man is Hard to Find” by Flannery O’Connor is not the story about the murder and the wrong way, it is the story that makes people understand the real value of life through the symbolism which is provided through the characters. The Misfit is an evil creature, but at the same time, the author tries to deliver the information to the reader that his actions are pushed by the wrong understanding of the world, by the wrong perception. The Misfit perceives the world in two realities, the real and the imaginary, which are mixed in his mind and do not allow him to provide reasonable and evaluated conclusions.
Graham, W. Here Comes Everybody. New York: University Press of America, 2008.
O’Connor, Flannery. A Good Man Is Hard To Find. Web.