Flannery O"Connor's "A Good Man Is Hard To Find"-Question (The "Misfit")

And I’d have had the same response. Christ is supposed to God incarnate, God offered salvation by killing Christ, and the only salvation he offers can’t be expressed until after you have died, and on top of that he’s also the one who is said to control when people die. The Christ figure offers salvation by killing you, yes.

Comparative literature works better when people are actually familiar with the literature being compared.

Admittedly, I’m not a Christian, but I’m pretty sure that’s not how it works.

Yeah, I went blank. It’s been a few years since I left the ivory tower.

I guess it depends on how much you require alignment between the Biblical Christ story and the character. The literary critics you dismiss and I don’t need as much. If you view Christ as a bringer of salvation (we agree the Misfit fills this role, I think) and a questioner of authority, and add little subtle clues like:

I don’t think it’s a real stretch to see the parallels.

I just re-read the story in the link provided by Sampiro. I haven’t read it since college, part of a literature class, where I recall the suggestion that The Misfit was a stand-in for Satan, which I took for granted at the time. Perhaps apropos considering the relationship with (and probable murder of) his father, and his imprisonment - and his questioning of authority.

What’s interesting to note in my re-reading is that the grandmother is not named, nor is the children’s mother (never referred to as Bailey’s wife, so I am assuming they are unmarried?). All the men, including The Misfit’s (the article is capitalized throughout*) cronies, Bailey, and Bailey’s son, are named, as is Bailey’s daughter. Even the cat is named.

Also the vivid descriptions of colors.

I chuckled as I read:

“The old lady settled herself comfortably, removing her white cotton gloves and putting them up with her purse on the shelf in front of the back window. The children’s mother still had on slacks and still had her head tied up in a green kerchief, but the grandmother had on a navy blue straw sailor hat with a bunch of white violets on the brim and a navy blue dress with a small white dot in the print. Her collars and cuffs were white organdy trimmed with lace and at her neckline she had pinned a purple spray of cloth violets containing a sachet. In case of an accident, anyone seeing her dead on the highway would know at once that she was a lady.”

Now that’s foreshadowing. The last line almost comes off as a punchline to the paragraph.

A lot is said of how awful the grandmother is, but the whole family, at best, do not seem like a bunch of folks with whom I’d like to drive to Florida. The kids are brats, Bailey is weak-willed and ornery (with reason, I suppose), and the children’s mother is described (in what may be my favorite line) as having a face “as broad and innocent as a cabbage”, suggesting she isn’t the sharpest tool in the shed.

And what’s with the monkey?

Anyway, my initial reactions now having read it after a long spell. I enjoyed it. Thanks for the link.

    • first name The, last name Misfit?


He also sees, however, that the presence of a loving God makes murder meaningless. I think that’s why he’s so fixated on Jesus returning the dead to life. If God can restore life like that, then why is killing someone a sin? If God has a problem with it, he can just bring them back. If he doesn’t, isn’t it his fault, and not the killer’s, that the person is dead?

I only read the story for the first time this year, and was curious to see what commentary or criticism there was online. The most interesting things I’ve read about it tend to focus on the passage almost at the very end:

which is pretty weird on the face of it, and seems to carry some import.

I read one analysis that said that (contrary to her own beliefs, and the ostensible theme she identified for the story) O’Connor was identifying self-centered, superficial and prideful religious attitudes (the grandmother) as being the fundamental origin of nihilism (the Misfit).

BTW, foreshadowing in stories tends only to make me roll my eyes, but this bit at the very beginning kind of haunted me for days:

The story is in most ways seen from the grandmother’s point of view–I read it that she’s the one who thinks, “the children’s mother,” scornfully, as in she’s no real daughter of mine nor is she good enough to marry my son (the MIL v. DIL problem); this is also partly why the grandmother does not need to be named–you don’t name yourself when you are thinking/narrating; (there’s also a universalizing thing going on too).