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In the short story “A Good Man is Hard to Find” by Flannery O’Conner it magnifies the fight between good and evil. There is the Misfit who is a killer which clearly brings about the thought of evilness due to his cruel decisions and ability to follow through with actions. Then the Grandmother attempts to resembles goodness despite her true colors revealing themselves prior to encountering the Misfit.
A family from the South is taking a trip up to Florida but the true journey takes place within their lives.
One question that constantly comes about in the story is, what the definition of a good man is and why do so few remain in the world. Most of the characters in the story think of themselves as good people because they have that high self standard and would not dare think less then that. This mindset is deeply flawed though, leaving each character blinded by their own pride that they can not put aside and see their true ways.
The Grandmother refers to herself as having the best values out of all the people. She completely overdresses for the trip in case they die that her clothing reminds them of how true of a lady she was. The narrator points out that the Grandmother looks down to other people as she is higher on the chain of respect due to her stature. At the start of the story, she criticizes the mother for not taking the children out and allowing them to experience the world and open their eyes to new sights and things, and tells John Wesley that he should be more proud of his roots whether his birth location or family.
Despite being so judgmental for others, she fails to criticize her own dishonesty, hypocrisy, and selfish ways. When she comes after John Wesley about the state, she mentions the little black boy as a pickaninny which is a racial slur due to appearance in the same sentence. She later says that little black kids do not have things like they do and that if she could remind them of one thing it would be just that. She then illustrates this picture later with a lovely story of the good old days on the Southern plantations. Her thought process of a good man is one not perfect but not to flawed in his ways either. The narrator says she would have married Edgar Teagarden because of a smart business decision he made which led to his wealth. In the end, when the Misfit is murdering her closest and most beloved family members one by one, she commands the man to pray for himself and his situation. Yet she not once prays for her own family to be pardoned by the Misfit for her them to be spared. She is even over the top when she pulls a handkerchief out to cool herself off and tells the Misfit if he would dare kill a lady, effectively trying to save herself instead of her family.
The Misfit does not seem like the type of individual to have morals, but he has a much deeper thought process that many characters in this story seem to lack unfortunately. The Misfit may be an unprincipled person with perverted beliefs but he is consistent and sticks by them. The Misfit is very aware of the type of person he is by telling the Grandmother that despite him not being a great man he is not the worst of them either. With the clear connection of consistency and self-awareness about himself being displayed the Misfit can rely on his beliefs despite them being twisted and cruel to guide him through his life journey. This is expressed drastically when Bobby Lee states that is must have been fun to shoot the Grandmother, in which the Misfit says there is no satisfaction in killing anyone. He knows what he must do and will not change on his plan and holds a firm position on it. This is a complete 180 turn to the Grandmother, who continuously fails to live by her own morals all the time.
The values, beliefs, and morals that people have make up their character. Moral codes are nothing more than what has come to be accepted by society for others. The Grandmother has it all wrong and thinks it is about where you are from and how you physically appear to others and what they will think of you. Although she thinks of herself as a lady, she manipulates and tricks those nearest to her. She sets herself to a high standard, but she lacks traits to match that belief and therefore is not what she so deeply wants. The Misfit’s moral code, although harsh, is persistent which allows him to live his life by his own rules with no care in the world of anything else. He is true to himself and does not beat around the bush to who he is, but the same can not be said about the Grandmother. A good man or woman in this case is hard to find in the texts of this story. When Red Sam tells the Grandmother about the time he was being deprived for the gas, she calls him a good man. She then attempts to tell the Misfit he is a good man because she believed that he would not shoot her because she is a lady or in reality because she just cared about her own life and would use any excuse to cover it up and make it sound better in her favor. What she does not realize is that she is not calling people good because they are moral, but because what they hold in high importance in their lives is what she holds high in her life as well. The only one that shows glimpses of being considered anything near a good man is the Misfit, because even though his beliefs are cruel and unjust, he is the only one that appears to stick to his life principles.
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