"You've got good blood! I know you wouldn't shoot a lady! I know you come from nice people! Pray! Jesus, you ought not to shoot a lady.... "Lady,"...There were two more pistol reports and the grandmother raised her head like a parched old turkey hen crying for water and called, "Bailey Boy, Bailey Boy!" As if her heart would break. "Jesus was the only One that ever raised the dead," the Misfit continued, "and He shouldn't have done it. He shown everything off balance. If He did what He said, then it's nothing for you to do but thow 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 the best way you can by killing somebody or burning down his house or doing some other meanness to him. No pleasure but meanness," he said and his voice had become almost a snarl. "Maybe He didn't raise the dead," the old lady mumbled, not knowing what she was saying and feeling so dizzy that she sank down in the ditch with her legs twisted under her. "I wasn't there so I can't say He didn't," the Misfit said. "I wisht I had of been there," he said, hitting the ground with his fist. "It ain't right I wasn't there because if I had of been there I would of known. Listen lady," he said in a high voice, "if I had of been there I would of known and I wouldn't be like I am now." His voice seemed about to crack and the grandmother's head cleared for an instant. She saw the man's face twisted close to her own as if he were going to cry and she murmured, "Why you're one of my babies. You're one of my own children!" She reached out and touched him on the shoulder. The Misfit sprang back as if a snake had bitten him and shot her three times through the chest.... Hiram and Bobby Lee returned from the woods and stood over the ditch, looking down at the grandmother who half sat and half lay in a puddle of blood with her legs crossed under her like a child's and her face smiling up at the cloudless sky. Without his glasses, the Misfit's eyes were red-rimmed and pale and defenseless-looking. "Take her off and thow her where you thown the others," he said, picking up the cat that was rubbing itself against his leg. "She was a talker, wasn't she?" Bobby Lee said, sliding down the ditch with a yodel. "She would of been a good woman," the Misfit said, "if it had been somebody there to shoot her every minute of her life." "Some fun!" Bobby Lee said. "Shut up, Bobby Lee," the Misfit said. "It's no real pleasure in life." (O'Connor)
Misfit's intonations, are a clear development of the theme of loss of faith. There is no question, from his actions and the grandmothers conversation with him that he is the quintessential example of all that is wrong with the world. The grandmother tried to redeem him, to save her own life, but maybe her motives were wrong, as they had been through much of the story.
The value of the work is indispensable, as it speaks of the loss of faith in humanity, status and God. As the family travels the mundane road of life, they encounter the ultimate obstacle, complete loss of life.
Good Man Is Hard to Find" is a parable of class instability and warfare. One wrong turn and you end up with/as trash. The story's Misfit, undercover white trash, speaks like a good Southern boy, as the Grandmother understands him ("I just know you're a good man,' she said desperately. 'You're not a bit common!'" [p. 128]), yet ultimately performs acts which challenge the dominant social order. His function is to terrorize the middle-class tourist family who literally "gets off on the wrong road." The middle-class Southern family is finally disposable, in the story's terms. Their downward mobility becomes a fitting rejoinder to the Grandmother's earlier commodifying condescension toward the "cute little pickaninny."
Though some would say that the author wishes for the reader to feel that the mass murder was deserved, as they intone the devaluation of humanity, status and faith, and live a life that is not reflective of the more righteous, in truth they have simply been at the wrong place at the wrong time, and no one in this world is left who can be trusted. In a true expression of southern hospitality the road should have led them to help, when their car careened into the brush, instead it led them to sure death, the symbolic death of society from loss of faith in humanity, status and God.
Bandy, Stephen C. "One of My Babies": The Misfit and the Grandmother." Studies in Short Fiction 33.1 (1996): 107.
Blythe, Hal, and Charlie Sweet. "O'Connor's a Good Man is Hard to Find." Explicator 55.1 (1996): 49-51.
Cheaney, J.B. "Radical Orthodoxy - the Fiction of Flannery O'Connor." World and I May 2001: 255.
O'Connor, Flannery. A Good Man is Hard to Find. Retrieved October 10, 2007 at http://pegasus.cc.ucf.edu/~surette/goodman.html
Smith, Dina. "Cultural Studies' Misfit: White Trash Studies." The Mississippi…