In this book, there is a confrontation of two individuals; a grandmother who has a sense of goodness that is superficial and a criminal who more or less embodies what real evil actually is. The author portrays the grandmother as a character who treats goodness as having good manners, coming from the “right people” and being decent. The grandmother encounters the Misfit who is evil, has a sense of guilt, seems to lack a conscience and does cruel things including destroying things for the sake of it. The puzzle of the story is to understand what actually motivates the Misfit in contrast to what “goodness” means (Shmoop 7).
O’Connor, in the advocates for the notion that it is only through conflict that “good” can come out. In the story, the family is characterized as being dysfunctional. The family seems not to have anything to say to each other and this is especially evident at the point of their deaths. The children, John Wesely and June Star are always quarrelling and are rude. They seem to be at the center of the family life and their behavior is met with indifference on the side of their parents. The grandmother being “good”, tries to rectify their behavior albeit feebly but this makes the children to offend her some more (Eder 20).
When they are led to the woods, the family members who are still alive remain calm and contrary to what would be expected, they neither crynor scream. They do not even say their last goodbyes. The author at this point focuses on the transformation that takes place in the relationship between the grandmother and Bailey before their deaths. On realizing that he was about to die, Bailey, in a tender manner refers to the grandmother as “mama” (432). This proves that he had always loved his mother despite appearances. The grandmother at that moment, answers the son crying “‘Bailey Boy, Bailey Boy’ as if her heart would break” (566). The two characters reveal their genuine feelings towards each other as they live through their last moments on earth. This incident implies that the two of them die having reconciled with the past (Eder 21).
O’Connor’s story is hard to forget, it has brilliant characterization humor and the plot is shocking. In the story, the author asks hard hitting fundamental questions regarding good and evil, faith and doubt, morality and immorality and the history and progress of black and white people in the American South. The author also examines how different people perceive the notion of being good (Edsite).
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In the book, the author depicts some of the characters as debased and repulsive. They are also unsympathetic and this is illustrated in the book, when the family members are guided to their deaths; they die in a violent and cruel manner. The book is seen as realistic, tragic, and unsentimental in a demanding way, but at the end hopeful. This story makes one to think about the possibility of an individual’s dramatic transformation. This can be seen when the grandmother, having lost her family members and facing death herself, reaches out in a loving manner to the person responsible for the deaths of the people she cares the most and who also wants to kill her (Shmoop).
The author, Flannery O’Connor examines what it actually means to be a good person. She puts forward the notion that only conflict has the ability to bring out the good side of an individual. The author also tries to imply that everyone has a shred of goodness in him. The theme of good vs. evil also comes out in the book and even though evil triumphs at the end, there is still some hope. It also brings to the forefront what it actually means to be good; this is because being good means different things to different people.