A Good Man Is Hard To Find and other Stories: From Pride to Humility through Grace

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The Theme of grace in “A Good Man Is Hard To Find and Other Stories” is widely presented in most stories of Flannery O’Connor. At the beginning of most stories, characters are seen as being alienated to the author’s perception of God’s grace, living a sinful life. As the story develops however, some changes occur in the lives of characters where they experience grace through an understanding of humanity. In this context, grace is viewed as a life situation in which people replace their pride with humility. It can also be seen as an experience of true intimacy of life as a result of interacting with others. A character can also receive grace from God when saved from bondage of sin.

This paper explores how the theme of grace is represented in Flannery O’Connor’s work “A Good Man Is Hard to Find and Other Stories”. From the story, characters like Misfit and grandmother receive grace from God despite the fact that they did not deserve it. First, the grandmother’s life shows that she is distanced from God. She is presented as being judgmental, arrogant, and full of pride. When the family plans to leave for Florida, she is upset. Ironically, the grandmother was first to prepare; she wore a navy blue dress and white cotton glove. As the author illustrates, her choice of wardrobe was “in case of an accident, anyone seeing her dead on the highway would know at once that she was a lady” (O’Connor, Collected Works, 18). Here, the grandmother is presented as being materialistic. When faced with death towards the end of story, she tells Misfit, “If you would play Jesus would help you” (O’Connor, Collected Works, 28). Similarly, before she was shot by Misfit, she called him one of her baby (O’Connor, Collected Works, 32). She recognized the Misfit as a human being who qualifies for redemption by God’s grace.

Similarly, in this story, the Misfit is subject to many sinful acts, including the murder of a whole family. However, at the end of the story, the Misfit is seen to regret his actions. His claim that 'It's no real pleasure in life' (O’Connor, Collected Works, 32) implies that he has achieved some level of grace. This claim is contrasting with his earlier claim, “No pleasure but meanness” (O’Connor, Collected Works, 31).

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Throughout the story, “The River”, the theme of grace is widely demonstrated by such characters as Harry, Harry’s family, the preacher, and Mrs. Connin. These characters are presented to have opposing views and interpretation of grace. First, Harry’s parents are upset when Harry was baptized. In some ways, this shows that this family disapproves Christianity, and probably does not believe in God. Mrs. Connin and the preacher, who are devoted Christians introduced Harry to the religion and baptized him. However, they failed to inform Harry the meaning of baptism. Despite not understanding preacher’s teaching, Harry is baptized and receives God’s grace in death as he stood with salvation. He denounced the atheistic way of his parents.

Tom Shiftlet, in the story “The Life You Save May Be Your Own” has an opportunity to receive grace. He is presented as a lonely man, who has no friends. However, when he meets Lucynells, he gets a chance to work hard and live a quiet life. When Mr. Shiftlet saw the two women sitting in the porch, “He swung both his whole and his short arm up slowly so that they indicated an expanse of sky and his figure formed a Crooked cross” (O’Connor, Collected Works, 63). This crooked cross demonstrated by his figure symbolizes his opportunity to be saved. As the story comes to an end, Mr. Shiftlet plays, “Oh Lord! Break forth and wash the slime from this earth” (O’Connor, Collected Works, 83). This implies that he missed his chance.

Unlike other girls in “A Temple of the Holy Ghost”, one girl is presented to have a pride temperament. The author illustrates that she alienated herself with others. O’Connor states, “…she was out of it and watched them suspiciously from a distance” (O’Connor, Collected Works, 107). Due to her pride, the other older girls do not bother to ask her to accompany them to a fair (O’Connor, Collected Works, 107). Due to her temperament also, she decides not to accompany them even if she was asked to. However, the author gives us an insight of the child’s mind; she strives for grace and considers a saint death as her calling. Her mind has two conflicting issues: ugly thoughts and knowledge.

In conclusion, the work of Flannery O’Connor demonstrates the theme of Grace. Different characters achieve grace in varied ways. Characters like grandmother and the Misfit achieve grace after living a sinful life but change when they realize they are about to face death or life is not fruitful. Other characters as demonstrated by O’Connor achieve grace by interacting with other people as well as when saved from the bondage of sinful life.

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A Good Man Is Hard To Find and other Stories: From Pride to Humility through Grace. (2023, January 31). Edubirdie. Retrieved May 26, 2024, from https://edubirdie.com/examples/a-good-man-is-hard-to-find-and-other-stories-from-pride-to-humility-through-grace/
“A Good Man Is Hard To Find and other Stories: From Pride to Humility through Grace.” Edubirdie, 31 Jan. 2023, edubirdie.com/examples/a-good-man-is-hard-to-find-and-other-stories-from-pride-to-humility-through-grace/
A Good Man Is Hard To Find and other Stories: From Pride to Humility through Grace. [online]. Available at: <https://edubirdie.com/examples/a-good-man-is-hard-to-find-and-other-stories-from-pride-to-humility-through-grace/> [Accessed 26 May 2024].
A Good Man Is Hard To Find and other Stories: From Pride to Humility through Grace [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2023 Jan 31 [cited 2024 May 26]. Available from: https://edubirdie.com/examples/a-good-man-is-hard-to-find-and-other-stories-from-pride-to-humility-through-grace/
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