Grotesque Tendencies: An Analysis of Flannery O'Connor's Misfit in the Short Story "A Good Man Is Hard To Find"

Essay by karlrUniversity, Bachelor'sA+, April 2004

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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...