A felon on the loose and an old grandmother may not seem to have much in common but looks can be deceiving. In A Good Man Is Hard to Find the author, Flannery O’Connor, introduces two characters that are very self-driven and relate to each other through their common traits. The Misfit and the grandmother share major characteristics that coincide with the story such as selfishness, brashness, and determination. Their lifestyles are polar opposites with the Misfit living a lawless, heartless, and detached life while the grandmother comes from a very family centered past.
Together they show how similar personalities can lead to a common ground where the reader can infer that both characters share the same overall objective. The Misfit and the grandmother may be from different backgrounds but both of them share one thing and that is the need for their own survival is greater to both of them than anything else. The first major commonality that is shared between the Misfit and the grandmother is their selfish behavior. Anyone who has a survival based mindset will naturally have a selfish personality.
The grandmother flaunts a self-loathing attitude throughout the ntirety of the story. She announces her dissatisfaction with heading south to Florida instead of to Tennessee at the very beginning of the story and that conflict shows how she has a primal need to feel safe. The idea of visiting Florida seemed unsafe to her, especially since she read about the Misfit and in her mind Tennessee represents a safe environment. Another example of the grandmother’s selfishness is how she persists on going to the old plantation even though it is clearly irritating Bailey and would extend the time of the family’s arrival.
The emory of the plantation grew inside the mind of the grandmother to the point where seeing it was necessary. Memories that are generally good make humans feel safe which coincides with survival and the grandmother was experiencing this while her mind was focused on the plantation. With her and the children continuously insisting on making the father take a detour to see the plantation, the grandmother shows how her selfish behavior caused a dispute with her son which ultimately stemmed from her desire to be in a safe mind frame. The Misfit shows selfishness throughout the story as well by ot worrying about the lives of other humans.
He is a prime example of a totally self-motivated character. He will do anything necessary to survive and that has to be one of the most selfish ways to live possible. A specific example of his selfishness is how he holds the grandmother captive while the rest of her family is slaughtered. By forcing the grandmother to go through a horrible experience in which she knows her family is being killed off, the Misfit is exemplifying a completely twisted self-absorbed personality. O’Connor helps shed light on the Misfits mentality by having him say “No pleasure but meanness” (432).
Additionally, the conversation between the Misfit and the grandmother after they are left is very important. It shows the two characters at their most vulnerable and desperate. The Misfit is showing vulnerability by allowing the grandmother to make personal connections with him. The grandmother is at her highest point of selfishness in the story with her bargaining for her own life. John Desmond writes on this instance, “Some readers have viewed it more skeptically, even arguing that the grandmother’s gesture may be a final esperate attempt to save her own life” (129).
The Misfit is listening to the grandmother and as the grandmother gets closer to revealing a wholesome part of his being, his need for survival is at its ultimate low in the story. Just as the grandmother plays her last hopeless attempt to make a connection to the Misfit by initiating physical contact, the Misfit shuts down her advance to break his cold exterior and reverts back to his survivalist nature. “So also, her touching him threatens his proud, isolated self-created role as the Misfit, a threat he cannot tolerate” (Desmond 129).
The two characters are also very brash in their decision making. Just after meeting the Misfit for the first time the grandmother declares that “I know you’re a good man… I know you must come from nice people” (O’Connor 429)! She barely knows anything about him and she is just trying to save herself. The way she speaks her mind and makes decisions are associated with that of a survival based mind. While pleading for her life to the Misfit, she comes up with many quick solutions that she thinks will save her.
Someone trying to survive has to come up ith answers to their problems quickly and that is tremendously enlarged when that person’s life is on the line. The grandmother was doing anything she could that would help to increase the chance of her survival. She went from offering the Misfit to take one of Bailey’s shirts to be willing to give up all of the money she had. Her brashness is a large part of who she is and one her most useful survival skills as well. The Misfit shows an example of his brashness by deciding the family will not be allowed to survive after being recognized by the grandmother.
There were many other outcomes that could’ve transpired, but his internal instinct of survival told him that leaving anyone who knew his face could possibly lead to his demise and that slight chance was too much for him to risk. He knew what he was going to do instantaneously after the grandmother recognized him. Making quick decisions is just how the Misfit lives, but he always looks out for his best interests when he does act on something. The third characteristic that the Misfit and the grandmother share, which adds to their survival capabilities, is a strong sense f determination.
The grandmother is a very determined woman and the reader is made well aware of that. Up until she remembered that the plantation was not actually in Florida, she was set on getting to visit it. The ones who have an enduring determination to survive will in most cases find a way to make it out. Jessica Hooten states that “The grandmother in the story “A Good Man Is Hard to Find” exemplifies this self-focus and self- righteousness; because she believes the grandmother is “defiantly assured of her own merit” (197).
Her determination to urvive is so strong that she had to resort to her offering the most important tool she wielded which was her money. In comparison, The Misfit is an extremely determined individual as wellI. The Misfit even went as far as murdering children to ensure he wouldn’t be caught. He could’ve left the kids there and been long gone by the time anyone found them. His determination to be able to continue to live the way he did made him believe that he could leave no survivors. Shooting an elderly lady is another one of the heinous actions committed by The Misfit that shows his strong sense of determination.
The Misfit and the grandmother in A Good Man Is Hard to Find both share some of the same characteristics that show how great the need for survival is in their own mind. The two of them couldn’t have been farther from the same on their exterior presence and the way they conducted their livelihoods. They show traits that represent selfishness, brashness, and determination. Examples of them displaying these traits are shown throughout the story and in doing that they show that the need for survival is the most necessary thing to the both of them.