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The main theme in the book A Good Man Is Hard to Find is salvation through faith. It dwells on how the righteous can gain redemption by just accepting Christ and placing faith in him no matter the gravity of their wrongdoing. When the old woman touches The Misfit-referring to him as one of his own children, she is cleansed off her sins which included racism, telling lies and even egocentricity. It is her selflessness which really depicts how contrite she was about her wrongdoing and totally accepts Christ as her Savior. It is therefore this act which qualifies her as a ‘good man’ who is hard to find hence this story. In all the three literary pieces, the main theme is also seen to be deep faith and understated perspicacity.
In Madison Jones’s A Good Man’s Predicament, he points out that every character depicted in O’Connor’s work is flawed in some way. The children for example are rude and even insult their grandmother. Her grandmother is also selfish and uses the children to her personal gains. The characterization of the children therefore as a mark of innocence therefore fails as they prove to be very abusive to their grandmother. The Misfit is also a flawed character because he depicts so many contrasting attributes in just one person that were very conflicting such as a heartless murderer and even gospel singer according to grandmother.
In A Good Man Is Hard to Find, O’Connor seeks to sway those that have not fully converted to the Christian faith because her being a staunch Christian, she believed that everyone ought to seriously take up redemption in Christ in their lives. She establishes that Christ was no longer the priority of many people in this generation and this was O’ Connor’s main concern. She was very concerned with people’s values and the way the youths especially grew in their faith. The Misfit on the other hand rejects Christ and the old woman casts doubt over the validity of his raison d’être which is to kill for pleasure. That I sthe reason as to why she concludes that there is no real pleasure in life. The misfit shot her and her family despite her belief in Southern hospitality. Her confrontation with the Misfit is not helped much by the fact that she is a believer in God as nothing happens in her favor.
In most of O’Connor’s works, the main characters finally find some sought of redemption in whatsoever difficulty they face. She has used extreme moral characterizations which sometimes come under criticism Christians but in the end the message of salvation and triumph comes to out clearly. An example is Martha Stephens in The Question of Flanner O'Connor where she thinks that O’Connor refuses to capture any good or beauty and dignity in human life on earth. She also strongly detests her view of humans as being ugly in all manners and the human form being distinctly unpleasant. She sees that O’Connor only sees worth of respect in renouncing any kind of pleasure, achievement and worldly involvement.
Martha Stephen thinks that most of O’Connor’s work is rather dreadful and although she has a sense of humor sometimes. She claimed that the South gave her images for her characters and most of them were identified with their physical appearances as well as race. This does not auger well with her critics who thought that she was being too judgmental on the way she portrays her characters in her work. Sometimes the main characters were even prejudiced with racial jargon which gave a tinge of dislike for the author for a particular race of people. In as much as the author’s Southern upbringing largely influenced her thoughts on people, since she was primarily writing about Christian values, Martha Stephen thinks she should have avoided such prejudice as much as possible. In the South there was a more frustrated middle class than anywhere in the country which well depicts in O’ Connor’s work.
It can therefore be concluded that the key subject in O’Connor’s work is grace but one should be careful to look through the eyes of the author to realize this. In A good man is hard to find there is a character that changes from self-centered, anxious and old to someone that is graceful or even accepting anytime there is a crisis. The grandmother is an arrogant woman who is ot afraid to make known what her demands are to anyone. In this case she did not want to move to Florida but would rather go and hook up with old friends in Tennessee. She mainly uses the pretext that the children should see many other places as they had been to Florida already in the past.
Therefore we are able to witness conflicts in O’Connor’s work which then later resolves into redemption or change of heart of several characters. It can be looked at violence that leads to redemption in the end. Redemption is of a moral nature even though in some cases there is a religious affiliation in some of the cases. Violence in the work of as Madison Jones describes is used to reflect on the inner self of the characters in the book. The literature in many of O’Connor’s work is seen as unbelievably violent and harsh. There is also a sense of horrific injuries as well as complete emotional ruin or breakdown of many characters before they are redeemed to new beings. This gives them emotional lessons which they use in their lives to change and be better people in future
Although grandmother would like to think as respectable and honest but in the real sense, she is a very malicious woman whereas the misfit comes out as someone that is respectful and polite. This is a very ironical stance in O’ Connor work given the eventuality of the plot in the book. The misfit also looks beyond superficiality in that he is honest to himself and what his abilities are although others are rather judgmental about others. Maybe another use of irony in the book by O’Connor to help create a foil and make contrasting more vivid is that of Bailey’s children who come from the middle class and are well cared for but in return they are very obstinate and spoilt.
In the final scene of A good man is hard to find, what happens between the grandmother and the Misfit is one of the highlights of O’Connor’s literally work. It provides a literal wicked truth in that the grandmother is wrapped in a hypocritical and selfish woman that is condescending and lives in a selfish world. The world then completely changes for her before she is shot, she is completely shattered. She is completely transformed the moment she utters, “You are one of my babies”. This was her point of redemption and it is at this point that she receives the grace to see clearly what the world around her looked and meant to her. Her head cleared and even though disillusioned she was able to have deeper thoughts than she did before and she is able to see the misfit as who he really was before she died. She touched him on the shoulder and the Misfit sprang and shot her three times in the chest. As long as the Misfit was alive, no one really cared for him and therefore grandmother easily strikes a chord with him and shows him how he can be saved.
Although these three critics of O’Connor portray her as a one with barren and cruel literary author, they do give her some credit for the way she brings out the process of redemption even though she goes to extremes in trying to make some characters appear bad and inhumane. Her reality is full of so much symbolism and beneath the intricate narrative of cruelty and inhumane description of characters lies dogma and real personal belief. Her writing is very intrinsically esoteric and it only manifests itself to those who have been well message –oriented to it. One has to be careful on how they extract meaning from her literary work. All the three critics also agree that she has a brilliant style of writing which has crass didacticism. Her works cuts across religious grounds as well as pass for creative literary work in the manner she achieves in describes scenes so vividly in her book. She is therefore able to achieve these two fetes easily which makes her stand out as she is able to do justice to both of these two things intended to pass on to the reader.
A compelling argument in O’ Connor’s work is that of realizing that her literary work can be interpreted by differently by different analysts. This is because different people with different experiences would tend to bias their views according to what they know and think about her work. She therefore leaves it to the readers to solve the puzzle in literary work and subject it to any interpretation they deem fit. She does no do much to investigate what the interpretation of her work would be like but delves into giving more and more examples.
She uses non-didactic Christian fiction and fuses it with elements of faith and several thematic ingredients in her writing which really in the end achieves the aspect of violence and grace in her books. As a Catholic many critics thought that some of her work goes to far in in as far as being judgmental is concerned. Racism also clearly manifests itself although in the end she can be forgiven because it is based ob her upbringing which surrounded practices of this vice.
Therefore the single most important controlling idea in all the three is the use of violence as a means of making redemption more dramatic and clearer to the reader. O’Connor highly achieved this aim in her style of writing as has been illustrated. She is able to fuse many elements of being violent in order to portray characters as being evil so that in the end when they finally ‘receive the light’, it would appear to be more dramatic and therefore make the message more and more alluring to the readers.