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Bonlon 1

Eiin Bonlon
Comp 1u1
Piof. Bzielawa
1 Apiil 2u14

Right anu Wiong in "A uoou Nan Is Baiu To Finu"

A majoi component of the stoiy "A uoou Nan Is Baiu To Finu," by Flanneiy
0'Connoi, is the uefinition of a "goou man," anu the uiffeiences between iight anu wiong.
The gianumothei in the stoiy is a self-uesciibeu "lauy," who seems to have a pioblem with
not getting hei way anu aujusting to the chaiacteiistics of the time she now lives in. The
Nisfit, on the othei hanu, is an escapeu convict who muiueis the gianumothei's entiie
family. What ieally makes a goou man oi lauy. Is it theii ability to feel iemoise foi theii
actions, oi is it theii ability to aumit that they know that they uiu wiong.
0ne of the themes uetaileu in 0'Connoi's "A uoou Nan Is Baiu To Finu" is the
uefinition of "goou" in ielation to men anu women. 0'Connoi pioviues hei ieaueis with two
uynamic chaiacteis, the uianumothei anu the Nisfit, to visually cieate hei uefinition of a
"goou lauy" anu "goou man." A laige poition of the gianumothei's opinion of what makes
someone a goou peison is hei juugment on whethei oi not a peison was a "lauy" oi a "goou
man." What does being a lady mean for the grandmother? It is in part a matter of appearances,
of looking "respectable," and it's also a matter of manners. She complains to her grandchildren
that: "In my time," said the grandmother, folding her thin veined fingers, "children were more
respectful of their native states and their parents and everything else. People did right then."
Being a lady, for the grandmother, is also tied to the way things were when she was growing up
and the vision of the former ladies of the Old South. That means another requirement to being a
lady is it has to do with blood, and what kind of family into which you're born. In her own mind,
the grandmother is certainly a "good person," as are all people of her social class, as she is a
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member of a formerly prevalent southern family. We learn in passing that the grandmother's
family had a plantation, and during the car ride she points out the remains of the house and its
graveyard. One of the most predominant moments of the grandmothers Old South ideals
coming through was during her encounter with The Misfit, a situation in which her notions are
totally out of place. "Listen," the grandmother almost screamed, "I know you're a good man. You
don't look a bit like you have common blood. I know you must come from nice people!" she
yelled at the Misfit. The Misfit is also a good characterization of a moral nihilist, which is a
person who has the belief that nothing is intrinsically moral or immoral. He admits that he's done
things that are obviously wrong by other people's principles, but they don't feel wrong to him.
Consequently, he feels bitter about being punished for his actions. For him, the actions are just
The grandmother, however, claims to be a good person, but from the very beginning of
the story the reader gets a sense that that may not be completely true. On the other hand, the
grandmother is an extreme manipulator. Whenever something goes against the grandmother's
will, she tries to have it her way. She never does this directly or bluntly, though. Her style is
always a bit subtler. In the very first paragraph she starts trying to manipulate her son into not
going to Florida like they planned, but to go to Tennessee like she wanted to. She does this not
by telling him straight out that she did not want to go to Florida, but by trying to scare him with
reports of a criminal on the loose and guilt trip him about taking his children there. When that
doesnt work, she continues to try to manipulate Bailey, her son. Her next route is to say that the
children have already been to Florida. It's not about her, she implies, it's about the children. For
some reason, though, the reader does not quite believe her. The rest of the story shows the
grandmother doing more of the same manipulative behavior. We learn that Bailey doesn't want
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her to bring her cat, but she did not like the idea of leaving it alone for three days. Instead of
causing a ruckus by having a confrontation with Bailey about it, the grandmother just hides the
cat in a basket and secretly brings it along. Then on the road the grandmother decides she wanted
to go see an old plantation that she remembered from her youth, but she knows Bailey won't
want this. So she manipulated the children into convincing Bailey for her by telling them a lie
about a secret compartment in one of the walls of the plantation. The recourse from all of her
manipulations and lies eventually gets the family into a car accident after the cat jumped out of
its cage, This causes an accident in which the car flips over on the road to what the grandmother
thought was the plantation, but she remembered last minute that the plantation was in a
completely different state. This car crash leads them to be discovered by the Misfit. Her constant
manipulation shows just how selfish and self-serving of a character she is. She's particularly
selfish in that she did not even beg for anyone else's life. The first words out of her mouth after
she recognized who the Misfit was are, "You wouldn't shoot a lady, would you?" She keeps up
this routine even as the rest of her family is taken to the woods and killed. From this "master
manipulator" view, the grandmother is insincere and unconcerned with the rest of her family as
long as she can find a way to spare her own life.
Another theme that has been woven throughout the text is the use of religion. Religion
helps the readers to understand an additional aspect of the way that society defines a good lady
and good man. One major aspect of being a good person to the grandmother would have to be
religion. Growing up and continuing to live as a member of the Old South, the grandmother more
than likely considers a strong Christian faith is a defining point of being a lady. According to
her philosophies, a respectable lady should believe in a merciful God and she eventually tries to
instill this thought in the Misfit. Her faith doesn't seem to run very deep, though. While talking to
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the Misfit and witnessing her family being murdered one by one, she doesnt really show that
strong of a resolve in her faith. That may be why, when she cries "Jesus, Jesus," it sounded, "as if
she might be cursing. She probably can't understand how God could let something horrible like
this happen to her, a good woman. That doesnt stop her from trying to use religion to sway the
Misfit from killing her. Her faith may not have been very strong, but she probably did believe
that "if you would pray, Jesus would help you, as she tells The Misfit. In the end, her Christian
piety did not win out, and she is unable to pray when she finds herself in a crisis, and even begins
to question the power and divinity of Jesus.
The Misfit, on the other hand, has a different opinion on religion than the grandmother,
and he retains a genuine bewilderment about religion. Whereas the grandmother accepts faith
unquestioningly, albeit weakly, the Misfit challenges religious beliefs and considers seriously
about whether he should follow them or not. He generally has so far chosen to live under the
notion that religion is pointless and adheres to his own kind of religion: No pleasure but
meanness. The Misfit posits that religion comes down to an all-or-nothing question about Jesus.
This is evidenced in this quote. Jesus was the only one that ever raised the dead," The Misfit
continued, "and He shouldn't have done it. If He did what He said, then there's nothing for you to
do but throw away everything and follow him, and if He didn't, then it's nothing for you to do but
enjoy the few minutes you got left" He thinks that if Jesus was really the Son of God then life
has a very serious point. The point would be to follow Jesus and his teachings because in that
case, it would be clear what you should do. On the other hand, if Jesus wasn't the Son of God,
then life is meaningless, and there is no real right and wrong. The Misfit doesn't actually believe
in Jesus, so for him life doesn't have a point and his evil actions have no real consequence. The
idea that by following Jesus one gains a chance at salvation and eternal life seems to be
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important to The Misfit. It may be why he speaks of "the few minutes you got left, in reference
to how he feels that one should be able to do whatever he wants because of his lack of faith in
the existence of Jesus. Without the promise of eternal life, life is consequently short,
meaningless, and ends in death, which is part of its futility.
A major component of this story is being a good person. OConnor challenges the reader
to use their deductive reasoning to decide who really is the man in the story. The first character
that the reader would decide is the antithesis of a good man is the Misfit. While OConnor
doesnt originally say what he did to become incarcerated, the grandmother hints that it is quite
bad. She reads about him in the newspaper and tells Bailey how she doesnt want to go to Florida
because of him, 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." However, the Misfit obeys to a moral code that remains consistent
and strong. From his prior and current experiences as a criminal, he believes that the punishment
is always disproportionate to the crime. He also believes that the crime, in the end, doesnt
even really matter. Throughout his conversation with the grandmother he insists upon his
innocence and claims that his father was dead from influenza before he was accused of killing
him. At the end of the story it is hard to believe that The Misfit is actually innocent, regardless of
whether he killed his father or not. He has his crew members kill the grandmother's family in
such a nonchalant manner that it seems as if he's used to committing murder. Toward the end of
the story, it becomes easier to believe that he's done a lot of nasty things.
"A Good Man is Hard to Find" is a story about a confrontation between a grandmother
with a rather superficial sense of goodness, and a criminal who embodies real evil. The
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grandmother seems to treat goodness mostly as a function of being decent, having good manners,
and coming from a family of "the right people." What a contrast, when the grandmother
encounters The Misfit, who seems straightforwardly evil and wrong, with little to no sense of
guilt, and a genuine desire to do cruel or destructive things for their own sake. When compared,
one can see that while the grandmother may put up the image of being a good, decent lady, her
manipulations and lies debase her to the woman that she really is, and that just by looking at a
person one cannot gain insight into their true nature.