This story by Flannery O’Connor is about a family and how they embrace the decisions of the eldest member, the grandmother, which ultimately leads to their catastrophic downfall. The story mostly revolves around her opinions on everything and how her family ends up accepting whatever recommendations she puts forth. The metaphorical title of the story is intriguing as there is hardly any mention of a ‘good man’ in it. Sammy rightfully declares that “a good man is hard to find” as none of the characters try to change their ways to become a good person.
The story begins with the son, Bailey, planning a summer vacation to Florida with his family which includes his wife, three children, John Wesley aged eight and June Staras seven years old respectively, and a baby boy. Together with the mother of Bailey, recognized as the grandmother. Here is when the said grandmother suggests to drive to East Tennessee to see her friends and argues how the kids have never been there. She induces fear by showing everyone the newspaper article about an escaped convict named as The Misfit who was last seen in Florida. So the next day they set out for the journey which was all fine until they take a side trip that was also suggested by the grandmother,is when everything goes wrong.
It is clear to discern that the grandmother was always able to get her way around the family members by using manipulative means. This can be seen when the grandmother tells the children about a plantation nearby that has a mysterious house with a secret panel which fascinates the kids. So they turn to their father pestering him for a little detour to visit the house which irritates him, but the grandmother was contented that it wasn’t directed towards her. Bailey gives in and drives deep into the woods resulting in their accident which leaves them stranded in the middle of nowhere while the mentioned house was never there.The grandmother is mostly the main focus in the whole story, and it is in the final scene when she comes face to face with the Misfit that shows her true colours. There have been various interpretations on what happens in the end, but as you read on you can very well say that it was the grandmother’s fault that led to the execution of the entire family when she was able to recognise the Misfit. It seems like a villain can recognize another villain very well. Here you witness herself-centred nature and old-fashioned beliefs. It is prevalent throughout the story but becomes more evident in the final scene when the Misfit murders the family one by one, and the grandmother pleads him to spare her life, never once asking to spare her family’s lives. Here she uses various methods to gain the sympathy of the Misfit, trying to relate to him through religion and even calling him ‘one of her own children’ while her own son was murdered by the same person. The Misfit is also a selfish man as he kills all the family members because the grandmother identified him on which he comments that it would have been better for them all if she had not recognized him.Though the Misfit doesn’t appear but in the final scene, his presence can be felt from the first chapter itself when his whereabouts are presented via a newspaper article referring to him as an escaped murderer. He declares that he gave himself this name because his punishment didn’t seem to fit the crime people said he committed.
There are some distinct characteristics that can be seen in both the grandmother and the Misfit. Both have the same evil nature, while one hides it behind her ladylike demeanor, the other flaunts it by doing immoral deeds.They even had the same set of beliefs and behaviors that people should abide with who are part of their lives. But they seem to have different ideologies on religion which is noticed when the faith of the grandmother on Jesus begins to dwindle at the face of fear, but the Misfit strictly follows his religion, which is “No pleasure but meanness.” The author here very well illustrates the weakness of human nature who live most of their lives on pretense. The grandmother is the cunning lady who uses shrewd methods to make people do what she wants, but in the end when she faces the Misfit, she fails to deceive him like the others.