All Men Are Punished
In A Good Man is Hard to Find, Flannery O’Connor tries to show that we are all one of the same and that all man can receive God’s grace. In the short story we are compelled by the completely opposite mannerisms of The Misfit and the grandmother; one character who believes she has no faults and with weak moral convictions. O’Connor uses irony to exemplify two individuals with different moral codes to reveal the notion that all men are ultimately punished, but can achieve grace through attainment of self-awareness and compassion. The grandmother is fixated by her appearance, and is sure that her ladylike demeanor brings her up to a higher standard than others. She would rather die an upright and well dressed “lady” and uphold her worth than beg to save the lives of her family. The grandmother lacks compassion for everyone including her family and honors only the superficial aspects of being a lady – moral values and honesty would not be considered one of those qualities worth being valued. The grandmother lacks integrity and could not even admit that the accident was her fault because of her lapse in memory; she would rather remain innocent and deceitful than,” mention that the house was in Tennessee” (549). When challenged, the grandmother The grandmother is a lying, manipulative, and selfish woman who thinks she is morally superior to those around her. She believes there are few good men left in the south as compared to the men in years past, and the men that she does qualify as good are Red Sammy and The Misfit; men with qualities that are considered disgraceful and unworthy. Red Sammy is a blind fool who is manipulated and taken advantage of and is discouraged by the fact that he is unable to trust anyone anymore and wonders why he was so nice to the fellas who conned him. The grandmother somehow admires his blind faith and simply replies to Red Sammy,” because you’re a good man” (547); she supports poor judgment and apparently believes that ignorance is an admirable quality of a good men. The unnamed grandmother tries to manipulate The Misfit into sparring her life by saying that he is a good man simply because he doesn’t look like he has,” common blood”(550). The grandmother believes that a man should be labeled as decent in character if their values align with her own; she is superficial. The grandmother is a selfish, vain, manipulator and represents qualities which humankind possess and are to be punished for by God. The Misfit is a philosophical criminal with outlandish beliefs and takes joy in wrongdoing. The Misfit’s beliefs are unorthodox, however remain consistent unlike the grandmother; he lives according to how he sees life, and by what he thinks is right. The Misfit shares with the reader his revelation that Jesus did not deserve to suffer the punishment for Man’s sin, and neither does Man. He concedes that Men will always be evil and punishments worse than death, however in the process should enjoy their worldly happiness. He feels as though one should,” enjoy the few minutes you got left the best way you can by killing somebody,” make do as though Jesus had not died to redeem Man (553). The Misfit understands the struggles of being a human being, and he sympathizes with the notion that Man is imperfect. The Misfit has been blamed and condemned for crimes that he did not commit, like Jesus, he was put at fault by Man. When The Misfit says,” sometimes a man says,” and does,” things he doesn’t mean”, he is trying to relate that man makes mistakes, and we all must accept and learn to make the best of those mistakes (550). The Misfit tries to make the grandmother understand that Man’s crimes do not fit the ultimate punishment of death. Death is unavoidable and the fate of everyone eventually; The Misfit understands his fate, and takes comfort in being mean to others. Because the Misfit has reevaluated himself and his life, he demonstrates a self-awareness that the grandmother lacks....
Cited: O’Connor, Flannery. “A Good Man is Hard to Find”. The Norton Introduction to Literature.
11th Edition. Ed. Kelley J. Mays. New York: Norton, 2013. 543-554. Print.
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