December 9, 2013
Christian Theology in A Good Man is Hard to Find
“A Good Man is Hard to Find” by Flannery O’Conner reflects the Christian belief that even the most unlikely of people can be recipients of God’s grace. The grandmother and the Misfit, both “bad” in their own ways, are each unlikely and undeserving recipients of grace. According to Christian theology, humans are granted salvation through God’s grace, which can be bestowed upon to even the most unlikely.
The grandmother’s and the Misfit’s moral codes they live by that affect their actions, decisions and perceptions. The term “moral” doesn’t necessarily mean good, but is simply the way people choose to live their lives. At first it seems as if it is the Misfit who lacks guidance as he continuously murders people. It is the grandmother whose moral code is weak and inconsistent. She has built her morals solely on what she believes make people “good.” She pays a great amount of attention in being a lady, repeatedly deceives her family, and lacks a clear standpoint on the world around her. She boasts about her love for Christianity, but does not seem to be able to pray when she finds herself in crisis. She even begins to question the power and divinity of Jesus. It is clear the grandmother is not sincere and aware of her actions. The Misfit has a strong and consistent moral code. The Misfit believes that the punishments he received from his experience of being a convicted criminal were always disproportional to his crime, and the crime doesn’t even matter at the end. He also shows a genuine curiosity about religion. The grandmother accepts faith unquestioningly while the Misfit challenges these beliefs and thinks deeply on how he should follow them or not. The Misfit has chosen to live under his assumption that religion is pointless and goes with his own belief “No pleasure but meanness.” (O'Conner 941). The Misfit only wishes he was present to see Jesus rise from the dead so he could know the events were factual. It is obvious the grandmother in “A Good Man is Hard to Find” lies to her grandchildren, manipulates her son, and makes several remarks as to why the past times have superiority to the present. She believes she is morally superior to those younger than her. She also believes she has the right to judge the goodness of others and tell them how to live their lives. The grandmother seems quite oblivious to reality as she heads the family to somewhere completely different than where she thought they were. The tragic wreck was all due to the grandmother’s ignorance. Towards the final moments of her life, she instructs the Misfit to pray, despite the fact she lacks the sincere qualities herself necessary to form a prayer. As she grows afraid of what will happen to her, she agrees with the Misfit and changes her mind about Jesus rising from the dead. Her doing so reflects she is confused and unsure of her beliefs making her a very unlikely recipient of grace. The Misfit is an unrepentant murderer who finds no pleasure in anything but meanness. He shows no remorse for his actions. The Misfit was aware of Jesus being crucified, but felt that he would have had to see it to believe it for sure. Both characters show habitual sins and ultimately are each undeserving recipients of grace. Even people like the grandmother and the Misfit have potential to be saved by God, according to Christian Theology. The grandmother experiences a moment of grace after the Misfit’s wish to know for sure what Jesus did and didn’t do. Her head clears momentarily and she says “Why you’re one of my babies. You’re one of my own children!” (O’Conner 948). This suggests that the grandmother is realizing that they both are of the same kind. Given the circumstances, her comment seems pretty insane, but this is the grandmother’s clearest moment in the story. She shows compassion which implies that God has granted her...
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O’Conner, Flannery. “A Good Man Is Hard to Find.” The Writer’s Presence. Bedford/St. Martin 's; Fourth Edition, 2003. 931-943. Print.
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