Religious Symbolism in "A Good Man Is Hard to Find"

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Religious Symbolism in "A Good Man Is Hard to Find"

By | April 2011
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Religious Symbolism in the Grandmother and the Misfit
Flannery O’Connor has long been criticized for her blatant incorporation of religious symbols into sinister, dark stories. In the short story “A Good Man Is Hard To Find,” the dark and apathetic Misfit is said to portray, in an allegorical sense, a Christ-like figure. However, through the interpretation of the inversions of divine characteristics, his repulsion of Christ’s very existence, and the denial of any powers beyond the observable realm, we find that the Misfit is actually representative of the Anti-Christ. Religion symbolism appears often in “A Good Man Is Hard to Find”; the first appearances of religious symbolism are presented with the speech of the grandmother. In her speaking, the grandmother often uses references to religion when interacting with her own family and the Misfit. "Pray, pray,’ the grandmother began, ‘pray, pray . . ." demonstrates how the grandmother deals with conflict and adversity in her own life (O’Connor 643). When confronting the Misfit about how to handle his transgressions and wrongdoings, the grandmother states, “If you would pray, Jesus would help you,” demonstrating her ideals that Christianity will absolve the Misfit of his sins and crimes (O’Connor 644). Because the grandmother is adamant about religiosity in her own personal life, she reflects this trait by projecting religion into her solutions to the problems of others. The grandmother imposes religion upon the Misfit, who denies Christ and God’s saving power. When speaking to the Misfit about how he handled his adversity, she tell him “That's when you should have started to pray,” which alludes to how deeply incorporated religion is into the life and behavior of the grandmother (O’Connor 644). Criticisms have often been placed on the religious character of the grandmother. Because the grandmother emphasizes that the Misfit “must pray,” she is criticized for her demanding personality and forcefulness of religion...

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