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Grotesque Tendencies: An Analysis Of Flannery O'connor's Misfit In The Short Story "A Good Man Is Hard To Find"

1025 words - 4 pages

The grotesque writing published in American short stories in the 50's rarely stand up to some of the outrageous, sickening, complex and downright distasteful characters seen in today's literature. However Flannery O'Connor's tale "A Good Man Is Hard to Find" shows distinctly morbid ideas, which are on par with some of today's storytellers. The Misfit in O'Connor's tale is grotesque in his politeness and consideration for his potential victims before he sentences them to death without any remorse. The Misfit displays a bizarre attitude while playing with his victims, giving them a sense of security before he kills them.One may not think of politeness and consideration as a form of grotesque behavior. Therefore, readers would also be surprised to read a story about a psychotic killer that is nice and considerate to his victims' feelings right up to the moment that he kills them. This pattern of behavior can be seen as The Misfit kills his last victim in the later part of this story, in his conversation about Jesus's death with the grandmother. '"Listen lady,' he said in a high voice, 'if I had been there I would of known and I wouldn't be like I am now"' (415). The Misfit is trying to explain to the grandmother that if he had been with Jesus at the time of his death, he would not be the sorry human being he now is. As the grandmother tries to comfort The Misfit in her attempt to prolong her life, all she does is aggravate him further: '"Why you're one of my babies. You're one of my children!' She reached out and touched him on the shoulder. The Misfit sprang back as if a snake had bitten him and shot her three times through the chest" (415). Until this very moment, the grandmother's thinking has been so outrageous she thinks she just might survive; instead, she dies with peaceful thoughts in her mind.In order to put the women of the Wesley family more at ease, the Misfit states, '"Well, first you and Bobby Lee get him and the little boy to step over yonder with you,' The Misfit said, pointing to Bailey and John Wesley. 'The boys want to ast you something,' he said to Bailey. 'Would you mind stepping back in them woods there with them?'" (412). The Misfit already knows he is going to have the complete family killed, but by separating the men of the family from the women, he knows he will have less trouble with all concerned. Also, in his sick sense of concern for the male family members' peace of mind, he believes they will appreciate being murdered away from the vicinity of the women they love in case they show any distress just before being shot. A few minutes later, "There was a pistol shot from the woods, followed closely by another" (413). As if on cue, in order to keep the conversation going with the ladies to keep their minds off the most recent shocking...

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