Interpretation


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Religion and Morals in “A Good Man is Hard to Find”

Are our morals generated from birth or have we picked it up from the teachings of organized religion.  In “A Good Man is Hard to Find,” the grandma believes that her religion and morals are good, yet she uses  coercion and selfishness to get what she wants. “The Grandmother didn’t want to go to Florida. She wanted to visit some of her connections in east Tennessee and she was seizing at every chance to change Bailey’s mind. Bailey was the son she lived with, her only boy. He was sitting on the edge of his chair at the table, bent over the orange sports section of the Journal. “Now look here, Bailey,” she said, “see here, read this,” and she stood with one hand on her thin hip and the other rattling the newspaper at his bald head. “Here this fellow that calls himself The Misfit is aloose from the Federal Pen and headed toward Florida and you read here what it says he did to these people. Just you read it. I wouldn’t take my children in any direction with a criminal like that aloose in it. I couldn’t answer to my conscience if I did.”  (O’Connor, Flannery. “A Good Man Is Hard to Find.” 2008. Literature. Sixth ed. N.p.: McGraw-Hills Companies, n.d. Pg 202. Print.)

When a person first reads this short story, their initial thought might be that it is a story about a misfit family going on vacation but changed into a story of horror. When I read the story again, I began to pick out some very significant quotes that I may have missed to trigger the fact that those quotes have a much deeper meaning. For instance, when the  grandmother points out interesting details of the scenery during the trip she calls attention to: “The various crops that made rows of green lace-work on the ground.” (O’Connor, Flannery. “A Good Man Is Hard to Find.” 2008. Literature. Sixth ed. N.p.: McGraw-Hills Companies, n.d. Pg 203. Print.) Was this symbolic of a graveyard? If you visualize a graveyard you will see what looks like rows on the ground. Shortly after the context of the crops, the grandmother points out a graveyard. “They passed a large cotton field with five or six graves fenced in the middle of it, like a small island.” (O’Connor, Flannery. “A Good Man Is Hard to Find.” 2008. Literature. Sixth ed. N.p.: McGraw-Hills Companies, n.d. Pg 203. Print.) Was this coincidence that they were a family of six, I think not. I believe O’Conner added that detail to allude the reader into a much darker story. This was certainly the part of the story that began to take a different path from just a family vacation.

“The trees were full of silver-white sunlight and the meanest of them sparkled.” (O’Connor, Flannery. “A Good Man Is Hard to Find.” 2008. Literature. Sixth ed. N.p.: McGraw-Hills Companies, n.d. Pg 203. Print.) Was O’Conner leading to what the reader would imagine heaven to be? Also, she added that the meanest of them sparkled.  My interpretation of the word meanest is to be malicious.  In the story it seems that the misfit who they encounter in the end would be the meanest of them all.

It’s a sad story but there so much insight throughout the whole passage. The short story revolves around religion and morals. In the story O’Connor portrays the misfit as someone who may have a little bit of religious morals when he  describes that “Jesus was the only one that ever raised the dead.” (O’Connor, Flannery. “A Good Man Is Hard to Find.” 2008. Literature. Sixth ed. N.p.: McGraw-Hills Companies, n.d. Pg 211. Print.)

In conclusion , this story has good morals and bad morals . O’Connor portrays the Misfit to be evil, and a murderer or was he? If you read much deeper into the story when the Misfit say’s after killing the grandmother;  “She would of been a good woman,” The Misfit said, “if it had been somebody there to shoot her every minute of her life.” “Some fun!” Bobby Lee said. “Shut up, Bobby Lee” The Misfit said. “It’s no real pleasure in life.”(O’Connor, Flannery. “A Good Man Is Hard to Find.” 2008. Literature. Sixth ed. N.p.: McGraw-Hills Companies, n.d. Pg 211. Print.)

At the ending of the story it may not be clear to the reader that O’Connor gives the role of Jesus to the Misfit, and feels he is morally justified to pass judgement on the family because they were already on their way to hell. In his mind he had good morals, but knew that what he had done was wrong.  She adds that the Misfit would prefer not to kill anyone if he didn’t have to. O’Connor portrayed the grandmother as very religious, and believed that Jesus would always protect her if she had good morals.  This short story leaves us with the moral question ; If the grandmother would have left religion out of the conversation she had with the misfit, would he have spared her life? The reader can believe whatever they want because, it’s most likely O’Conners way of leaving you ponder on the what if?

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