The Misfit and The Grandmother: Perspectives on Life in Flannery O'connor's Work

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About this sample


Words: 568 |

Page: 1|

3 min read

Published: Jun 14, 2024

Words: 568|Page: 1|3 min read

Published: Jun 14, 2024

Flannery O'Connor's short story "A Good Man Is Hard to Find" explores the contrasting worldviews of the Misfit and the Grandmother. Through their interactions, O'Connor delves into the philosophical differences between these two characters and their distinct perspectives on life. This essay aims to examine the Misfit's philosophy and how it differs from the Grandmother's, highlighting key instances in the text that shed light on their contrasting viewpoints.

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The Misfit's philosophy is rooted in his nihilistic worldview, where he believes in the inherent meaninglessness of life. This is evident in his encounter with the Grandmother when he states, "She would have been a good woman if it had been somebody there to shoot her every minute of her life" (O'Connor 107). The Misfit's remark suggests that he views life as filled with suffering and devoid of any inherent value. In contrast, the Grandmother embraces traditional values and moral absolutes, valuing manners and appearances. This fundamental difference in philosophy sets the stage for their subsequent clashes.

Throughout the story, the Misfit's philosophy is further emphasized by his refusal to conform to societal norms and expectations. When the Misfit encounters the family at the secluded spot, he challenges the Grandmother's attempts to humanize him by stating, "I call myself the Misfit because I can't make what all I done wrong fit what all I gone through in punishment" (O'Connor 108). Here, the Misfit suggests that he is the product of a flawed system, where punishment does not align with the magnitude of his transgressions. This reflects his belief in the arbitrary nature of justice, reinforcing his nihilistic perspective.

The Grandmother, on the other hand, clings to a moral framework based on external appearances and superficial notions of goodness. She constantly judges others based on their outward behavior, often failing to recognize their true character. This is evident when she encounters the Misfit and remarks, "Why you're one of my babies. You're one of my own children!" (O'Connor 112). The Grandmother's inability to see beyond external labels and acknowledge the Misfit's true nature highlights her limited understanding of human complexity and her refusal to accept the harsh reality of the world.

Another instance that highlights the Misfit's distinct philosophy is his conversation with the Grandmother about Jesus. When the Grandmother insists that the Misfit comes from "nice people" and appeals to his religious beliefs, he responds, "Jesus was the only One that ever raised the dead, and He shouldn't have done it" (O'Connor 113). Here, the Misfit challenges the traditional belief in Jesus as a savior, suggesting that resurrection only brings further suffering. This rejection of religious ideals further aligns with his nihilistic stance and emphasizes his unique perspective on life and morality.

In exploring the contrasting philosophies of the Misfit and the Grandmother in "A Good Man Is Hard to Find," Flannery O'Connor provides a poignant commentary on the human condition. While the Grandmother clings to traditional values and moral absolutes, the Misfit's nihilistic worldview challenges societal norms and questions the inherent meaning of life. Through their interactions, O'Connor prompts readers to reflect on their own philosophical beliefs and consider the complexities of the human experience. By delving into the divergent perspectives of these characters, O'Connor invites us to explore the depths of our own philosophies and confront the challenging questions that arise from the clash of opposing worldviews.

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O'Connor, Flannery. "A Good Man Is Hard to Find." The Complete Stories. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1971.

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The Misfit and the Grandmother: Perspectives on Life in Flannery O’Connor’s Work. (2024, Jun 14). GradesFixer. Retrieved July 23, 2024, from
“The Misfit and the Grandmother: Perspectives on Life in Flannery O’Connor’s Work.” GradesFixer, 14 Jun. 2024,
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