Why not own up to your mistakes? Is it because you’re afraid to face the truth, or are you afraid of facing yourself? Everybody has an answer, nobody is impeccable. We have all made mistakes at one point in our lives, and we all have a reason for why we commit such errors. At the end of the day, there’s those who own up to their mistakes to learn and grow, and then there’s those who hide behind their lies and choose not to assume responsibility. Why not assume responsibility and evade conflict? Is it because we’re afraid of facing the truth, afraid of being exposed to our wrongs, or afraid of changing the way people view you. Not owning up to your mistakes and hiding from the truth contravene the morals we as a society know and believe in, and that’s where religion comes into the picture. Flannery O’Connor inscribed “A Good Man is Hard to Find” told in a third-person narrative, through the eyes of the grandmother, where we raise questions of the good and evil of humanity. O’Connor incorporates religion in most of her stories to embrace that she is catholic and to send a message to her fellow readers about how God’s grace awaits for those who have sinned but only embrace those who have owned up to needing a savior. The Grandmother and the Misfit are both the most important characters as they’re the cause of the uplift question of what good and evil are and why religion gets incorporated between the two. The grandmother seems disconnected from the family as O’Connor characterizes her as an egocentric and hypocritical person. She revolves her life around what society perceives her as; the grandmother soulfully believes that her feminism has the power to be treated differently.
That being the reason she dresses elegantly and in a “navy blue dress with a small white dot on the print.” (446) so anyone can state that she is a lady. Nevertheless, throughout the story, the grandmother’s selfishness starts to get the best of her as she only considers herself as someone higher than everybody else and has the free will to express whatever she wants yet decriminalizes others who do the same. For example, as they’re in the car she tells the children how they need to be more respectful towards others by comparing them to the children back in her day, yet when she sees an African American walking by, she verbally expresses, “oh look at that cute little pickaninny!” (446) indicating that her racist comment doesn’t affect others, but what others verbalize does as she is telling her grandchildren how to behave, yet she demonstrates otherwise. Moreover, she is so fixated on getting her own way at the family vacation that as Keil demonstrates “She tells lies about a ‘secret panel’ (449) to get her grandchildren to throw fits in the car to coerce Bailey into taking a side trip to a nonexistent house from her flawed memory. Her insistence on having her own way and sneaking Pitty Sing, her cat, into the car, despite her knowledge that Bailey would not allow this, directly causes the accident.” (Keil, Katherine) This shows that the grandmother does not fit for grace as she lies about the secret panel in a house, but exaggerates the situation to make it seem more interesting than it actually is for the children and have them get excited and beg to go.
The grandmother is a manipulator, yet the kids are blind towards it because they don’t see that she is only doing that because she wants to silently clarify that she will always get her way; All they see a fun grandmother who came up with the best idea. Not to mention that she is self-centered to not think about how her actions will affect others. Later, the grandmother endeavors to persuade the misfit that she notices the good in him and that God does too, but the misfit sees right through her and realizes that he knows more about Jesus than she ever will because he had a lot of time on his hands to hang onto faith and to put things in God’s power where he was held in the penitentiary. The misfit believes that he does not belong in there for the reason that he did not kill his father considering the police station never showed him his records of proof that he did such a cruel thing. He says, “My daddy died in a nineteen ought a nineteen of the epidemic flu and I never had a thing to do with it. He was buried in Mount Hopewell Baptist churchyard and you can go see for yourself.” (453) This raises questions about whether the criminal justice system is trustworthy. Although it is difficult to see any sort of innocence in him due to the precise killing he has done to a family of strangers, which shows that this could have not been the first time he’s committed murder. Knowing that her family has just been killed, she begins to “Pray!Jesus, you ought not to shoot a lady I’ll give you all the money I’ve got!”(454) to present how everyone confides in grace regardless of the sins one has participated in. The grandmother’s sin is how she doesn’t care for anyone but herself and will throw people away if they don’t live up to her expectations. She is cold-hearted. But the cold-hearted symbolizes deep lonesome and hurt.
O’Connor illustrates how grace waits for us with its arms held wide open, yet we choose to ignore it when it isn’t beneficial for us.In this case, the grandmother faced grace once she knew that the misfit wasn’t going to let her go. She gave up and relied on grace by putting her situation in the Lord’s hands, craving that feeling that everything will be okay. That’s what God does for us, shows us that everything happens for a reason and that it allows us to grow into the person we are meant to be. Acknowledging this through faith gives us humans comfort of knowing that a higher power will forgive no matter what; It calms everything around you and heals your inner body scar, no matter the size. O’Connor presents this story to show how grace can still be visually perceived by those who are deeply broken, yet many people refuse the grace of God because they choose to not let go of the weight on their shoulders. The misfit “needs the grandmother to act in this way. His ability to act as he does, that is, instinctively, according to his script, depends on the willingness of others to act in some prescribed manner. The grandmother initially does just that. She performs all of the expected turns: She appeals to his sense of gentility (“You wouldn’t shoot a lady, would you?”), his sense of social superiority (“I know you’re a good man. You don’t look a bit like you have common blood.”), his sense of morality (“You could be honest if you’d only try.”), and finally his greed (“I’ll give you all the money I’ve got!”).” O’Connor wanted to show how there is no such thing as a good person, everyone has a bad side. Flannery O’Connor shows this through the misfit as he believed there is no real right and wrong; life doesn’t have a point is Jesus is always questioned.
In the end, O’Connor insists on taking responsibility for your actions. Don’t pretend it didn’t transpire, don’t pretend it was someone else’s fault, simply admit you were responsible to avoid conflict later. Flannery O’Connor incorporated the theme of religion to reveal how no matter the type of sinner you are, we are all equal and share the same values as we have all have good and evil within us. We all come to terms with grace in the time of need, even though we do nothing to deserve it or earn it. Yet when we lean on to grace we believe that we do earn it, but God doesn’t owe us anything. However, he will liberatingly give grace to those who ask with a heartfelt apology and acknowledge that they are sinners.
- Keil, Katherine. ‘O’Connor’s ‘A Good Man Is Hard to Find.’.’ Short Story Criticism, edited by Jelena Krstovic, vol. 111, Gale, 2008. Gale Literature Resource Center,
- Bayless, Ryan S., and Allen H. Redmon. ‘‘Just Call It’: Identifying Competing Narratives in the Coens’ No Country for Old Men.’ Contemporary Literary Criticism, edited by Jennifer Stock, vol. 442, Gale, 2019. Gale Literature Resource Center,
- O’Connor, Flannery. “A Good Man is Hard to Find.” The Bedford Introduction to Literature: Reading, Thinking, Writing, by Michael Meyer, Bedford/St. Martins, 2008, p 445-455.