Generally the world comprises of two types of people; good and evil and no human is perfect. However, most of the good people have decent conscience and morals whereas evil people lack the guilt or conscience. Readers are shown by Flannery a realistic look on their own mortality in the story. It is all about a family; father, mother, two children and grandmother, starting out on vacation to Florida.
On their way from Georgia, the family takes a detour which changes their lives forever. The writer creates a theme of good vs. bad through use of the literary elements like characterization and symbolism that is felt throughout by tapping into emotions of the audience. People have throughout time asked how one can characterize good and evil, opinions that have always been received are normally based on religious work like The Holy Bible.
A good man is said to be the one doing good things while an evil man is the one who does evil things. O’Connor uses characterization in personifying grandmother as being good and Misfit as evil. Though there are some grey areas, the readers are able to discern the characters. This story is a confrontation between grandmother who has superficial sense of goodness, and criminal that embodies real evil.
Grandmother is characterized as being a good person and a lady who does right thing in line with standards of her time. Grandmother seems as if treating goodness mostly as being decent, with good manners, and having come from a family that has good blood. The grandmother, before leaving for vacation donned one of her finest apparel in order to look like a lady, or a good person in her eyes.
The portrayal of good by the grandmother makes her flawed, like any other human being, which draws in reader through making character relatable. Everybody has his or her own flaws. Misfit is a foil character to grandmother. The grandmother will certainly do anything so as to get whatever she wishes by sticking to her opinion and not considering what anybody else may think. She controls her son through telling him to go for vacation to Tennessee instead of Florida.
Grandmother presents her demands not only by telling herself but her family too that the opinions she has and the ways are the only and the best. She did not sand back and view herself as scrutinizing her own insincerity, egotism and deceitfulness. Example, the integrity that the grandmother appeals at the beginning of the story is a quiet one when Pitty Sing is snuck into the car, deceits about secret panel to the children and she does not expose her fault in locating where the house was. The grandmother, unless when in desperate need, did not listen to anyone.
The Misfit exists through moral code which includes ruthlessness and murder. He really ponders significance of life as well as his part in it, prudently measuring his life actions and inspecting his practices in order to find the teachings in them. Because of a character that made him to consider that he did not suit He is aware that he has faults, but he realized that out there, there were other worse people. He carefully interrogated himself exposing some self-consciousness that the grandmother lacked and the rough upbringing that the Misfit had seldom conformed to middle class society norms.
He even tells the grandmother of the run in threat he had with the justice system that is known to be used by the government in tidying the society’s frayed edges. The Misfit enjoyed hurting others due to his life experience that had shown that others enjoyed and had pleasure in harming and hurting him. He certainly made pleasure and enjoyment in criminal activity as an end in itself. To him, this was his right rather than remembering that duties and rights are intertwined.
The grandmother applies the good label to Misfit after recognizing him and asks him if he would shoot at a lady, though he never indicates that he would not. Because by being a lady is significant part of what grandmother considers being moral, his answer is a proof that he does not adhere to similar moral codes as grandmother does. She desperately calls Misfit a good man, like she was appealing to underlying value that Misfit would not want to deny.
The grandmother’s definition of good is skewed resting entirely on claims that the Misfit has no common blood. The wanton application by the grandmother of the label good man is a revelation that good does not necessarily imply kind or moral and for her, a man is good if only his values align with hers.
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Fitzgerald, Sally. "Flannery O'Connor: The Habit of Being." Vintage (1979): 191-205. Print.
O'Conner, Flannery. "A Good Man Is Hard to Find." The Story and Its Writer. Boston:
Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2011. Print.