Use of Grace in a Good Man Is Hard to Find, a Short Story by Flannery O'Connor

In Flannery O’Connor‘s, A Good Man is Hard to Find, the subject of grace and the grandmother arises. This story is about a family who travels to Tennessee for a vacation, but they run into a man called the Misfit who ends up killing the whole family, O’Connor uses a lot of foreshadowing of the family’s death in the story. At the end of the story, the grandmother is left with the Misfit, who is prepared to kill her.

She talks to the Misfit and reaches out and touches him, which most people believe is a transfer of grace from the grandmother to the Misfit. Stephen C. Bandy, the author of ‘One of My Babies’: The Misfit and the Grandmother, argues that there could not have been a transfer of grace because the grandmother was not a fit vessel for grace. On the other hand, Matthew Fike, author of The Timothy Allusion in ‘A Good Man is Hard to Find, and Arthur Bethea, author of O’Connor’s A Good Man is Hard to Find, both agree that the Misfit did receive grace from the grandmother.

Due to the lack of spirituality in the grandmother when her life is not being put at risk, there is no way she could have transferred grace over to the Misfit. Upon reading this story, most people see the grandmother as a bringer of grace to the Misfit who is lost spiritually. In Bethea’s piece, he argues that the grandmother is recognized as the bringer of peace, “ the text does suggest that grace transforms the grandmother and The Misfit.

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The story is just one of many revealing [O’Connor’s] ‘deeply sacramental view of life’ and conviction that mystery “everywhere pervades human experience. Bethea explains how the evidence from the story strongly suggests the grandma as a bringer of grace because of the experience of grace in her life.

Because she experiences this grace in her life, she can now extend it onto the Misfit who is in need of it. Now, although Fike agrees with Bethea on the fact that the grandmother was a bringer of grace, he focuses more on how the Misfit receives the grace. Fike compares the Misfit to Paul, Paul was a king who was against God. Slowly over time, Paul changed and followed the Lord and became one of his most loyal disciples. This is the comparison that Fike uses. He explains how he believes that when the grandmother touches the Misfit, she is transferring grace over to the Misfit the old lady’s gesture, like the mustard seed, will grow to be a great crow-filled tree in the Misfit’s heart,” He believes that this grace will grow and slowly change the Misfit for the better. 0n the contrary to Bethea and Fike, Bandy argues that the grandma is an unfit vessel of grace, “To insist at this moment of mutual revelation that the grandmother is transformed into the agent of God‘s grade is to do serious violence to the story.”  Bandy explores the way the grandmother acts towards the Misfit.

He believe that the grandmother is not actually trying to give grace to the Misfit but is actually being selfish and trying to save herself from being killed. Bandy also talks about how the grandmother calls the Misfit one of her children, Bandy says that this is not relating the grandmother’s grace to the Misfit’s receival of grace, but that “her lack of values is his lack as well. Bethea’s claim that the grandmother is a bringer of grace rests upon the questionable assumption that the grandmother is authentic about her claim to her faith when confronted by the Misfit. The grandmother, before being confronted by the Misfit, shows no indication that she was a religious women, rather is shown as a women who believes in the racism of her time This is shown when she refers to the boy who eats the watermelon as “a nigger boy.

Also, many people turn to God when they are in danger, even if they do not follow him on an everyday basis. This is what is shown in the story with the grandmother. Since her faith is just circumstantial, there is no way she could have transferred grace to the Misfit since hers was not authentic. Fike’s assertion that the Misfit is like Paul does not fit the facts of the story, Fike, although he takes an interesting approach to the story, overlooks the major detail of how the grandmother is not actually capable to giving grace to the Misfit. When put under stress, she tries to persuade the Misfit into believing that she is a Godly person who should live and not be shot. ”Pray, pray,” the grandmother began, “pray, pray.

Even though the Misfit may have become a good person overtime, you cannot assume that the change came from the grandmother‘s grace, because that would be an inaccurate statement. Bandy’s theory of the lack of sincere faith in the grandmother is extremely useful because it sheds light on the difficult problem of if the grandmother was a bringer of grace to the Misfit or not Bandy is correct in stating that the grandmother is an unfit vessel for faith. She only shows signs of any faith when she has a gun pointed to her head, which wouldn‘t allow her to have a strong faith in the rest of her life because she only shows it when she is in trouble “She would of been a good woman if it had been somebody there to shoot her every minute of her life. Most people disagree with this point because Flannery O‘Connor states that she made the grandmother a vessel for grace.

Regardless to this, Bandy makes a good point about how you should “trust the art, not the artist. This idea shows how some authors try to convey a point to the readers but that point is not always conveyed in the way that they expect, which leads to many different interpretations of the article, story or art piece. A piece of information in this story that is overlooked is the foreshadowing of the story. Throughout the story, Flannery O‘Connor paints a picture of what will happen in the story before it happens. One major piece of foreshadowing that is explained is the six grave stones that the family sees as they are driving through the county.

This signifies their upcoming deaths Another small piece of foreshadowing is when the Misfit digs a whole in the ground with his foot. This can be portrayed as the grave of the grandmother. “A Good Man is Hard to Find“ has had many different interpretations of what happens to the Misfit and the grandmother. Although O‘Connor claims that the grandmother is a bringer of grace, this is clearly not what the story is portraying. You view the grandmother as being fake and not true. She is viewed, before she meets the misfit and bossy and racist. This contradicts any deep belief that she has and would certainly not make her a vessel fit to transfer grace to a cruel murderer. The views on this story will change from person to person but always consider this “Trust the art, not the artist

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Use of Grace in a Good Man Is Hard to Find, a Short Story by Flannery O'Connor. (2023, Apr 06). Retrieved from

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