Flannery OConnor uses Christianity as a fundamental thesis in her work, A Good Man is Hard to Find. The exploration for the meaning of the Christian faith in the story is based on OConnors view that contemporary society was drastically changing for the worst. OConnor, a fundamentalist and a Christian moralist focuses her powerful apocalyptic fiction on the South. OConnor views the lifestyles of the elite Southern people to be a faade. A Good man is Hard to Find focuses on Christianity being filled with sin and punishment, good and evil, belief and unbelief.
The grandmother fully tells her opinion as she tries to convince the Misfit that he is a good Christian man before he kills her. The meaning of religion and true personification enlightens the characters when faced with reality.
In A Good Man is Hard to Find, the grandmother is representative of godliness and Christianity which OConnor apparently believed to be more hypocritical than prevalent in the traditional Old South, 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 collar and cuffs were white organdy trimmed with lace, and at her neckline, she 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 (1231). In this reading, the prominence is on purity and southern Christianity as if she is getting ready to attend church.
The grandmother displays the proper image of a southern Christian woman in the presence of other people. Her clothing, her perfection, and her attitude are perceived as truly religious. In reality, the grandmother is exceedingly selfish. She preaches and gives sermons throughout the story yet in the face of danger she thinks only of herself. The grandmother uses gender roles, you wouldnt shoot a lady would you,(1236) and religious images to try to save herself. She preaches and prays to the Misfit as if he is Jesus, Jesusyouve got good blood, Jesus you ought not to shoot a lady (1239).
She radiates an aura of holiness at the same time sounding self-serving.
The Misfit symbolizes evil. At one point, the Misfit likens himself to Christ, stressing the fact that they were punished for crimes they did not commit. Christ accepted death for the sins of all humanity. In contrast, the Misfit did not accept reprimand and killed many innocent people instead. Yesm the Misfit said as if he agreed.
Jesus thrown everything off balance. It was the same case with Him as with me except he hadnt committed any crime and they could prove I had committed one because they had papers on me (1239).
Near the closing stages of tribulation, the grandmothers total religious transformation comes upon her while facing the final moments of her life. She is facing the Misfit listening to him reminisce on his life with his mother and father. At that moment, the grandmother realizes that everyone is a child from God above. She wants the Misfit to realize God forgives everyone and is saved by the grace of God.
Why youre one of my babies. Youre one of my own children (1239). The Misfit, in his exploitation of Christ, acts as judge and executioner to the grandmother, The Misfit sprang back as if a snake had bitten him and shot her three times through the chest (1239). In this quote, the implication may be on Christian theologies, since the Misfit believes he exemplifies Gods grace by eliminating the evil and introducing the three virtues: Faith, Hope and Charity. The significance of Christian theologies is the unification of the three Divine Spirits: The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit in one Godhead. The Misfit deems himself to be a representative of all three Divine Spirits.
The Misfit transforms the grandmother into a childlike state in death illustrating his beliefs that he has given her a fresh start or rebirth, as Jesus did.
The religious interpretation of this story is the focal point of OConnors faith in the Catholic religion. The .