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The story appears in the collection of short stories of the same name. The interpretive work of scholars often focuses on the controversial final scene. A man named Bailey intends to take his family from Georgia to Florida for a summer vacation, but his mother, referred to as "the grandmother" in the story wants him to drive to East Tennessee , where the grandmother has friends "connections".
She argues that his children, John Wesley and June Star, have never been to East Tennessee, and she shows him a news article in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution about an escaped murderer who calls himself "The Misfit" and was last seen in Florida. The next day, the grandmother wakes up early to hide her cat, Pitty Sing, in a basket on the floor in the back of the car. She is worried that the cat will die while they are gone. Bailey finds his mother sitting in the car, dressed in her best clothes and an ostentatious hat; if she should die in an accident along the road, she wants people to see her corpse and know she was refined and "a lady.
She recalls her youth in the Old South, reminiscing about her courtships and how much better everything was in her time, when children were respectful and people "did right then.
When the family stops at an old diner outside of the fictitious town of Timothy, Georgia, for lunch, she talks to the owner, Red Sammy, about The Misfit. He and the grandmother agree that things were much better in the past and that the world at present is degenerate; she concurs with Sammy's remark that "a good man is hard to find.
After the family returns to the road, the grandmother begins telling the children a story about a mysterious house nearby with a secret panel, a house she remembers from her childhood. This catches the children's attention and they want to visit the house, so they harass their father until he reluctantly agrees to allow them just one side trip. As he drives them down a remote dirt road, the grandmother suddenly realizes that the house she was thinking of was actually in Tennessee, not Georgia.
That realization makes her involuntarily kick her feet which frightens the cat, causing him to spring from his hidden basket onto Bailey's shoulder. Bailey then loses control of the car and it flips over, ending up in a ditch below the road, near Toomsboro. Only the children's mother is injured; the children are frantic with excitement, and the grandmother's main concern is dealing with Bailey's anger.
Shaking in the ditch, the family waits for help. When the grandmother notices a black hearse coming down the road, she flags it down until it stops. Three men come out and begin to talk to her. All three have guns. The grandmother says that she recognizes the leader, the quiet man in glasses, as The Misfit. He immediately confirms this, saying it would have been better for them all if she had not recognized him, and Bailey curses his mother.
The Misfit's men take Bailey and John Wesley into the woods on a pretense and two pistol shots ring out. The Misfit claims that he has no memory of the crime for which he was imprisoned; when he was informed by doctors that he had killed his father, he claimed that his father died in a flu epidemic. The men then return to take the children's mother, the baby, and June Star to the woods for the same purpose as Bailey and the boy.
The grandmother begins pleading for her own life. When The Misfit talks to her about Jesus , he expresses his doubts about His raising Lazarus from the dead. As he speaks, The Misfit becomes agitated and angry. He snarls into the grandmother's face and claims that life has "no pleasure but meanness. You're one of my own children! When the family has all been murdered, The Misfit takes a moment to clean his glasses and pick up Pitty Sing; he states that the grandmother would have been a good woman if there "had been somebody there to shoot her every minute of her life.
Most of this discrepancy centers on the grandmother's act of touching The Misfit. The dominant opinion of the story is that the grandmother's final act was one of grace and charity, which implies that "A Good Man Is Hard to Find" was written to show a transformation in the grandmother as the story progresses. She originally perceives herself as a righteous woman, making her able to "justify" all of her actions.
She bribes the granddaughter and encourages the defiance of the children against the father; in the end, she even begins to deny the miracles of Jesus as she states "Maybe He didn't raise the dead". The reader sees how she, in the final moments of her life, tries to save one more soul after the Misfit has already killed her family, by calling out the Misfit's name.
A second opinion on the issue is that the grandmother's final act was not an act of charity and that she is yet again trying to save herself from being murdered. Some say that Flannery O'Connor uses the excuse as the grandmother's final "moment of grace" to save the story from the bloodshed and violence.
It is also pointed out that by the time the grandmother touches the Misfit, proclaiming he is her son, he is wearing Bailey's shirt. Other opinions include that it is contradictory of her character or that she was simply again trying to save herself and that her selfishness was never overcome throughout the story. Not every interpretation hinges on a moral judgment of the grandmother, though.
For example, Alex Link considers how, until the family encounters the Misfit, the South is mainly something to ignore, forget, package in a movie or a monument, or remember with distorted nostalgia, such that the Misfit comes to stand for the persistence of what cannot be bought, sold, or wholly understood, such as death, grace, and "the South.
O'Connor utilized the dark and morose in her writing to reveal beauty and grace. In the story, violence reveals divine grace. Divine grace, or God's unmerited favor, is a concept fundamental to man's salvation in Christian theology. Christians believe the imperfect can be reborn spiritually, i. While the two seem to be different, the grandmother and the Misfit both are the same at their core: sinners in need of grace.
Only at her death does she realize her faults. After he shoots her, the Misfit claims "she would have been a good woman, if it had been somebody there to shoot her every minute of her life. She instead conveys a message of the sinful nature of humans; these experiences people may go through do not stick.
The grandmother's life would have to be threatened every day for her to become a good person. The film stars noted New York artist Joe Coleman ,  but according to most reviewers the film does not depict the story or its characters well.
An original modern chamber opera based on "A Good Man Is Hard to Find" was completed in by David Volk, a University of Georgia music doctoral student, as part of his dissertation requirements in composition. Volk teaches as Assistant Professor of Music. The American folk musician Sufjan Stevens adapted the story into a song going by the same title. It appears on his album Seven Swans. The song is written in the first-person from the point of view of The Misfit.
In May , Deadline Hollywood reported that director John McNaughton would make a feature film adaptation of the story starring Michael Rooker , from a screenplay by Benedict Fitzgerald. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. New York: Little, Brown, , p. Critical companion to Katelyn Smith.
Infobase Publishing. Retrieved April 24, Archived from the original on Retrieved Mystery and Manners: Occasional Prose. Retrieved 25 October Melvin J. Friedman and Beverly Lyon Clark, eds. Boston: G. Hall, , p. The Atlantic. Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved 22 January Flannery O'Connor works. Hidden categories: All articles lacking reliable references Articles lacking reliable references from May All articles with unsourced statements Articles with unsourced statements from April Articles with unsourced statements from June Namespaces Article Talk.
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