A Good Man Is Hard To Find: The Cross Of Two Spiritual Paths

2816 words - 11 pages

The Cross of Two Spiritual Paths: The Characterization of the Grandmother and the Misfit and How Their Rendezvous Connects Them Both to a Religious Awakening of Faith, Grace, and Salvation.

Obeying Pontius Pilate's orders, the Roman soldiers nailed Jesus onto a cross but not before ridiculing and physically beating him. At nine o' clock in the morning, the men proceeded to crucify him along with two robbers. One of the robbers joined the soldiers in lampooning Jesus while the other one asked for forgiveness in hopes of reserving his place in Heaven; within hours, all three men had died. The concepts of faith, death, and salvation exemplified in the aforementioned anecdote continually permeate the text of Flannery O'Connor's short stories. As exhibited in the aforesaid account, each man, by asking Jesus to bestow his grace upon him, possesses his own chance for salvation, but only one of the men actually seizes this opportunity; this closely resembles the final scene in which the two man characters of this Flannery O'Connor classic also encounter this opportunity for deliverance. In "A Good Man Is Hard to Find", Flannery O' Connor by utilizing the characterization of the Grandmother and the Misfit, in religious and moral terms, to underline the deep connection between the two which ultimately sets the stage for the final scene in which grace is received by both characters. Thus, the story, while portraying a static tale outweighed by its climatic ending, transforms into a more meaningful clash between the Grandmother's superficial beliefs and the Misfit's more profoundly felt involvement with Christ.

The Grandmother, through her actions and words, displays a superficial, impious faith. Her faith revolves around the concept that a person's goodness, not personal intimacy with Christ decides his or her path in the afterlife. According to the Critical Survey of Short Fiction, this belief of "goodness" lies in the sense of innocence, which includes hers and others (1984). The aforementioned book also comments that the Grandmother persists that the Misfit's inability to shoot the family lies in the fact that he comes from a "good family" (1984). Moreover, the Grandmother honestly believes that she possesses the "goodness" of a Christian and the fact that this characteristic could somehow alter her fate (Ochshorn 298). Stanley Renner insists that the problem, however, is that although the Grandmother appears to others as a religiously devout person, her shallow view of goodness is saturated with nothing more than the culture-refined thoughts of the small-minded mores (26). Similarly, Stephen Bandy implies that the Grandmother's faith is embedded into her only skin-deep as to feign the semblance of a devout Christian when, in reality, she understands "nothing of the religion"; the Grandmother's external religion is completely of "the lip-serving variety" (3). Renner comments that the mindless reiteration of Jesus' name could be viewed as...

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