The short story written by Flannery O’Connor in 1955 is a striking and emotional representation of the goodness in the life of people. As the title implies, the plot of the story emerges around the idea of what it means to be good and if it is at all possible. In this paper, it will be argued that the writer draws goodness as an insincere and hypocritical feature that is weak in the face of evil, as the grandmother is forceless against The Misfit.
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When reading a story, I experienced a range of emotions from amusement and laughing to fear and compassion. It seems that O’Connor cold-heartedly draws the reality of life regardless of the sensitivity of her readers. As the plot starts, the grandmother thoughtlessly refers to The Misfit, a criminal who escaped from prison and roamed around Florida, as an excuse to change the family’s route to the destination of her liking. She says that she would not take her “children in any direction with a criminal like that aloose in it” (O’Connor, 2016, p. 2). Coincidently, her words became prophetic, and at the end of the story, it turns out that it is the grandmother whose directions lead to the meeting with the Misfit and the family is killed. It is painful to realize that a thoughtless phrase ultimately became a cruel reality.
However, the grandmother’s words and so-called good behavior are insincere. She is a hypocrite who pays more attention to her appearance more than to her loved ones. She even dresses like a lady so that “in case of an accident, anyone seeing her dead” would know she was good (O’Connor, 2016, p. 3). When the grandmother faces The Misfit, she insincerely refers to the criminal as a “good man” who comes “from nice people” and would not “shoot a lady” only to stay alive by all means (O’Connor, 2016, p. 14). However, it seems like a good man is impossible to find because even the so-called good grandmother could only be good if there were someone “to shoot her every minute of her life” (O’Connor, 2016, p. 15). Thus, the author compresses a broad system of symbolic representations of philosophical ideas about the good and the evil into a form of a short story, thus making her literary piece a powerful message to humanity.
O’Connor, F. (2016). A good man is hard to find. London, England: Faber & Faber.