A Good Man Is Hard to Find Summary
The short story, "A Good Man Is Hard to Find," begins with the grandmother of her son having to go to Florida. She states that she doesn't want to take this trip, but hesitantly packs and prepares to leave. She warns her son and his wife, who is holding a baby, of The Misfit, stating that this would be a warning to leave. However, they decide to take the road trip anyway while the grandmother continues to complain when leaving. The story narrates their story through Tennessee and Georgia as well as stopping for lunch while on the way. After this, the grandmother convinces the family to look at a wooden panel house, which is on a dirt road. While driving, they hit a rock and a tire goes flat, causing an accident of their car to turn.
After the accident, a man approaches to help with the children. The grandmother recognizes him when he pulls out a gun. He tells the children to go behind a certain distance and to remain in a line. Bailey, the grandmother's son, is taken behind a tree and two shots are heard. At the same time, the grandmother is asking The Misfit if he prays, in which he begins to tell her that he is not all good and not all bad, describing the events that caused him to go into jail and become a murderer. One by one, the family is taken off and more shots are heard. The Misfit kills the grandmother after she reaches out to touch him with the last words stating that she would have been good if someone would have not shot her every day of her life.
A Good Man is hard to Find Analysis
In this story, The Misfit and the grandmother are reflective of each other. One represents the good and one represents the evil; however, both are intertwined. The Misfit first shows this by being a criminal that is found murdering those that are in a given territory. His interpretation; however, changes him from evil to good when explaining his story. He shows that he was not bad but the law began to place him in a certain position. For instance, he states: "I call myself The Misfit," he said, "because I can't make what all I done wrong fit what all I gone through in punishment" (O'Conner, 35). This caused him to change his ability to function in society, forcing him to murder others.
While he doesn't pray and says that he can fend for himself, he shows how he is innately good but becomes bad because of the surrounding environment.
The grandmother shows the other side of this, becoming a hypocrite to the situation. She asks the Misfit if he prays and calls on prayer while speaking to the Misfit. However, her attitude during the rest of the conversation shows the opposite. She causes conflict with her family and is seen as a burden. While she is recognized as good with praying and leading a good life, her family does not see her as good. The daughter calls her "queen of the day" (O'Conner, 33), while others in the family see that she causes them more burden. After The Misfit shoots her, he states that "She would have been a good woman... if it had been somebody there to shoot her every minute of her life" (O'Conner, 37). This shows how the grandmothers, while having some qualities that are good, are inherently evil while she becomes an example of hypocrisy between good and evil.
When looking at "A Good Man Is Hard to Find," it can be seen that there is reversal between the good and bad between characters. The grandmother, while praying and believing in Jesus, is also seen as a hypocrite and one that causes continuous problems in others lives. The Misfit contrasts with this. While he is seen as a criminal and inherently bad, it is his circumstances and definitions that cause the problem. This leads to the main theme of O'Conner stating that the definitions of evil and good are often misinterpreted by others and leads to misunderstanding, hypocrisy and a question of what the difference is between good and bad.
O'Conner, Flannery. A Good Man Is Hard to Find: Short Stories of Flannery O'Conner. New York: Penguin Books, 2001.