“A Good Man is Hard to Find” by Flannery O’Connor, published in 1955, is an excellent exposition of grace and sin. It is also based on the notion that existence of God is is depended on morality. This story is about grandmother and his journey from being a manipulative and selfish woman to the realization of being graceful. This story is based on the core notion that one feels the reality of life when they are faced with the worst situation in life. The grandmother who is the central character in this story tries to convince her family to change their traveling itinerary based on her personal likeness without considering the interest or likeness of her family. Through all her life she was the most selfish woman and did not care about her family and friends, the only thing she loved was herself. The story depicted that person in any point of life transmute the inside devil into an angel. It happened to the woman, now of death, she had realized the angle thing inside her, and when she died her inner soul found internal peace because she became a genuine good person in the end. To convince his family, who are going for a travelling, she shows the headline of a newspaper. The newspaper highlights a dangerous criminal who is allegedly on the same route as the one planned by their family, which is Florida.
In our normal routine, we are faced with myriad situations that incline our attention to only the temporal aspects of the life. All human being tend to satisfy their own wishes and forgets what people want around them. Once, a religious guru ordered all of his 100 disciples to write their names on different apples given to them. These apples were later transferred to an empty room. The guru asked all of his disciples to go to that room and find the apple with their names. After few minutes none of them were able to find the apple with their name. The guru then asked them to pick any apple that they could get and give it to the person, whose name is written in the apple. After few minutes all the disciples got their apples with ease. The guru told his disciples, the apples are just like happiness, when you give the happiness to other, you get it without any hurdle. Same case applies here, the women when got into the point of self actualization when she had that point of love for the criminal. Although, she was not able to save her life but this act took her to the eternal happiness (Wood, 80).
The grandmother mentioned in the story was initially very selfish. She did all the things for her self-gratification and never thought how people will feel and what they desire. When her family members were planning their journey for Florida, she had other plans in her mind. As a mother, she should have thought about the feeling and excitement of her family about their planned journey to Florida. On the contrary, she tried to convince them for other plans with associating it with other negative things. When she faced the Misfit, she did not think of her family but tried ways to safe her own life (Connor & Frederick, 160).
On their way to Florida, they saw around six or five fenced graves with a large cotton field. Seeing this, she develops a story about a treasure which is hidden in this area for catching the excitement of the children. She did this only to go through the route which leads to an old plantation that she is willing to see since her childhood. This element again depicts her self-centeredness and selfishness. On their way to the old plantation through the little used dirt filled road, she suddenly recollect her memory that the old plantation is not on this way and it was actually in Tennessee. This problematic recollection of memory brings her in a sense of embarrassment and she suddenly knocks over her basket containing her cat. This action caused the cat to jump over the shoulders of her son, Bailey. Bailey loses control of his car and they had an accident. Luckily no one was seriously injured and they waited for some help.
During that long wait, a hearse like big black battered car arrives. The car had three men including an elderly man, which catches the attention of the grandmother. Grandmother correctly recognizes him as the one mentioned in the newspaper, “The Misfit”. When the Misfit arrives in the scene the actual climax and crux of the story portrays its picture. This scene shows concrete transformation of the grandmother from decency to self interest and from self interest to her fear/love of God and finally towards her venality. Although, she fails and loses her life but this scene represents her moment of clarity and self realization. Her act of charity and mercy encourages her to touch the shoulders of the Misfit.
The primary notion why Misfit was like what is depicted about him in the literature is based on his complaints about God. He mentions that the fact between rejecting God and accepting him is quite unfair. He explains that it is not possible to derive the fact that whether Jesus removed the sins of the world through God’s grace or not. He fails to understand and accept that why he needs to make a decision which he is not fully aware and it might have severe consequences. He explains that God does not exist and the world without God is a world of meanness, where there is no restriction and everything is permissible in it.
The story “the best people are different to find” has been with an understanding regarding of Roman Catholic worldview she ended this story. In Catholic terminology, God knows the moment of grace as special type of God gift and in this story the old woman had faced the moment of grace when she reached to touch him out, in that moment she was filled with understanding and supernatural love bestowed upon her. This moment of grace-enabled feel the pain of the fellow named Misfit, who was actually the murderer but when she listened his story, she felt the suffering of that person and she realized that it is her obligation to love human beings.
The moment when he listen his story, he realized that she can love others except herself and that feeling actuated her to consider Misfit as her own child. Both the perception of Misfit had been shown in this story by O'Connor, Misfit as the fellow human being as well as the swift but genuine feeling of love for him as God’s gifts. From the catholic worldview, person whose deeds inclined towards pettiness, evil and selfishness cannot feel love for the fellow human beings without God’s assistance. It happened in the story with the grandmother, without the assistance of God, she did not feel love for human being, but the moment when God helped her she was able to feel the pain and suffering of murderer and love him as her own child. In the story, moment of grace is duly important. Misfit killed the grandmother and Misfits moved back what seems so strange to him, however the old lady had faced the point of redemption in that moment.
The response of Misfit depicted that he identified grandmother’s act as goodness even though he moved backed from it. The last line stated by him was completely in contrast with all the meanness act of him. Misfit always believed that pleasure in life can be acquired through meanness. However, after killing the old woman he felt no pleasure. Instead of attaining pleasure by the meanness act he felt great distress and agitation, these feelings depicted that grace had worked on him too as this was the first phase of transformation.
The ending of the story is vague as the writer tried to show hope in the end for Misfit but many readers do not agree with this fact. The whole family died without any moments of grace and this bother many readers, as they do not see any hope in the ending. The other problematic thing was that people was getting moments of grace just before they died.
Plato’s question is an excellent deriving force here. Plato mentions, “Is morality required by Him because it’s good, or is it good because it’s required by Him?” (Adam, 67). To deal with the above situation, morality is basically good that is why it is required by Him. The Misfit mentions that God does not exist and therefore there is no requirement of morally liable, which is basically wrong. Even if someone does not believe in God, he must have a sense of morality. This morality is lastly depicted in the attitude of the Grandmother, when she was about to die and in Misfit, when he felt somewhat bad after killing grandmother.
Through all her life she was the most selfish woman and did not care about her family and friends, the only thing she loved was herself. The story depicted that person in any point of life transmute the inside devil into an angel. It happened to the woman, now of death, she had realized the angle thing inside her, and when she died her inner soul found internal peace because she became a genuine good person in the end. The moment of grace was not only bestowed upon the grandmother but to the evil doer Misfit as well. He in the end after killing the old woman said she would have been a good woman if he had been there all her life to shoot her. This is the most strange line as it depicted that woman was redeemed by finding the ability in herself to pity him as well as facing evil inside Misfit.
Adam, James. The republic of Plato,. Cambridge: University Press, 1902, pp.67 - 75
Connor, Flannery, and Frederick Asals. A good man is hard to find. New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 1993, pp. 155-160
Wood, W. Jay. God. Durham: Acumen, 2011, pp. 80-85