Despite the common tendency to categorize people into good and bad, the notion of a “good man” is ambiguous and subjective because of numerous convincing arguments. Diverse opinions, thoughts, and expectations of people are the main reasons that explain why it is difficult to find good humans. The given paper aims to analyze and evaluate the notion of a “good man” on the basis of the short story “A Good Man Is Hard to Find” by F. O’Conner.
It is important to note that Flannery O’Connor in her story “A Good Man Is Hard to Find” introduces elusive definition of the word combination a “good man” (Cofer 15). For instance, the unnamed grandmother in this story includes herself in the so-called list of good people. In other words, grandmother believes that she is morally superior to other characters of the novel because she is a “lady” who can judge and criticize others (Cofer 16).
The author of “A Good Man Is Hard to Find” uses the character of the unnamed grandmother with the purpose to manifest the danger of selfishness, as well as self-centeredness (Yaghjian 31). Even though this woman lacks self-awareness, she is convinced that she is a lady and, consequently, the public should treat her as a good woman. After reading and assessing the main ideas presented in the story by O’Connor, it is possible to assume that dishonesty, arrogant behavior, judgmental actions, and, finally, selfishness put the entire family in serious danger and even lead to death (Eder 62). For instance, while convincing the Misfit not to kill her, she asks him not to “shoot a lady” (O’Connor). Thus, instead of beseeching him not to kill her family, she is anxious only about her fate and survival. The grandmother behaves as if everybody should know that it is improper to kill ladies because ladies are “immune” from shooting (O’Connor).
Despite the fact that grandmother always portrays herself as a good person, her actions and behavior contradict the principles of morality and ethics (O’Connor). On the basis of this story, it is possible to observe that the grandmother classifies all people into two major categories: good and bad individuals. This old woman tells her grandchildren that they will become good people in case they listen to and respect their grandmother (O’Connor). Instead of leading her grandchildren by her personal example, she makes a decision to tell them how to use manipulative strategies. Naturally, she cannot show a good example by herself as she has never behaved as a good woman (O’Connor).
Even though the grandmother tries to persuade the murderer who killed her family that he is “a good man at heart”, because she needs “only one look to recognize it”, she behaves as an egoistic and artificial person who cares only about her self-image and fate (O’Connor). In addition, the grandmother promises the murderer to give him all the money she has got in order to be set free. Thus, the act of offering money proves that the grandmother is a selfish and arrogant person who relies on various manipulative techniques and strategies in order to influence the killer and make him show mercy (O’Connor).
As a result, having determined and evaluated the psychoanalytic portrait of the grandmother as the main hero, one can conclude that this woman may be characterized by such features of character as hypocrisy, selfishness, and pride (O’Connor). Her categorization of people is subjective because she is not a good person by herself. In addition, she never supports her division of people with some facts. For example, when she convinces the Misfit not to kill her, she tries to assure him that he is “a good man at heart” because she can just look at him and tell the truth about everyone (O’Connor).
Taking into consideration the psychoanalysis of the Misfit, it is important to note that he, on the contrary to the grandmother, demonstrates very deep conviction that all other characters of the story lack. Unlike the grandmother who views herself as a representative of a “superior race”, the Misfit knows that he is not a good person because he committed a series of severe crimes. Consequently, the Misfit should be viewed as exact antithesis to the grandmother because he does not betray his ideals and principles (Eder 65). On the contrary, a “superior” grandmother, who has always sought spiritual and moral recognition of society, forgets about her moral code when challenges arise (Eder 66).
After analyzing the main characters of this novel, it is possible to refute the grandmother’s argument that “a good man is hard to find”. The grandmother in the short story by F. O’Conner uses the label “good people” indiscriminately (O’Connor). In other words, her definition and meaning of a “good man” is blurred and vague because it bases on gullibility, untruthful assumptions, blind faith, and, finally, very poor judgment. Despite the common assumption of the grandmother that good people are hard to find, the reality is absolutely different (O’Connor). There is nothing, as well as no one, either good or bad because of subjective nature. For instance, many people misjudge others as they assume that background, education, behavior, and upbringing are the main factors that should be taken into account while categorizing people into bad and good (Eder 68).
The majority of people support the idea that individuals put into a jail are bad and people who go to church every Sunday are definitely good. However, this categorization lacks sense and sounds absurd because of its limited and unclear nature. Regardless of the fact that the grandmother describes the Misfit as a “good man”, this label sounds unnaturally and inadmissibly because this man orders other murderers to kill the grandmother’s family (O’Connor).