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Redemption in A Good Man is Hard to Find

            In "A Good Man Is Hard to Find" all of the characters - most obviously the Grandmother - are concerned only with their own needs and wishes. There is no real relationship or love between them until they come across the Misfit and his mob. When the Grandmother exclaims at the end, "You're one of my children!", she makes the first statement of connection in the story. At this point she receives grace, as she understands her place in humanity. All are sinners in O'Connor's fiction, but all are capable of being saved.
             Flannery O'Connor was often shocked to find how people interpreted her stories. Some readers of "A Good Man is Hard to Find" believed the grandmother was evil, even a witch. Soon O'Connor set out, quite explicitly, in letters and lectures to detail the theology of the story and the importance of the grandmother as an agent of grace. In a letter to John Hawkes, she explained how violence and grace come together: More than in the devil, I am interested in the indication of Grace, the moment when you know that Grace has been offered and accepted-such as the moment when the Grandmother realizes the Misfit is one of her own children. These moments are prepared for (by me anyway) by the intensity of the evil circumstances.
             When O'Connor speaks of her Catholicism and its expression in her fiction, she is clear-headed, eloquent, and convincing. In Mystery and Manners, the posthumous collection of her occasional prose, she claims the assumptions that underlie "A Good Man is Hard to Find" "are those of the central Christian mysteries. These are the assumptions to which a large part of the modern audience takes exception." O'Connor was upset with critics who were determined to count the dead bodies: "And in this story you should be on the lookout for such things as the action of grace in the Grandmother's soul, and not for the dead bodies." For O'Connor, grace is "simply a concern with the human reaction to that which, instant by instant, gives life to the soul.

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