Sunday, September 7, 2014

An Action of Grace

I found this little bit quite interesting:

" [Flannery O'Connor] states that the subject of her work is "the action of grace in territory held largely by the devil" (Mystery and Manners 118). She tries to portray in each story "an action that is totally unexpected, yet totally believable" (118), often an act of violence, violence being "the extreme situation that best reveals what we are essentially" (113). Through violence she wants to evoke Christian mystery, though she doesn't exclude other approaches to her fiction: she states that she could not have written "A Good Man Is Hard to Find" in any other way but "there are perhaps other ways than my own in which this story could be read" (109)."

I loved this, and I absolutely had to share it. It's nice to have some quotes from Ms. O'Connor. "A Good Man is Hard to Find" is an amazing story, one that I have read many times. The way O'Connor depicts her characters is chilling. What she gives us is exactly what they explain above, "an action that is totally unexpected, yet totally believable." In the story, the actions of the Misfit do come a bit unexpected. The Grandmother's pleading, one might think, would surely bring this man to reason. Yet, he kills the entire family anyways. The way O'Connor draws it out is what does it. The way she makes the grandmother plea is just frighteningly real feeling. The Christian mystery I think O'Connor was trying to invoke in this story is: what comes of grace? The grandmother spent the beginning of the book being so negative, saying their were no good men anymore. This is the view she holds until the final pages of the book. She tells the Misfit he must surely be a good man. Then, in her final moments, as she is breaking down, looking for some kind of answer, she reaches out and touches the Misfit. Now, why she does this is what I have wondered for some time. In my opinion, it's the grandmother trying to shed some grace onto the Misfit. She's in a way, almost trying to save him. I think this moment in the story is quite beautiful. The way I imagine it as I read it is just a woman who doesn't want to die, but also doesn't want this man to suffer. I think the grandmother would have wanted that grace to enter him, to change his ways. Yet, I don't think it would have ended up that way. 

"Flannery O'Connor (1925-1964)" Beverly Lyon Clark.


  1. I think you are completely right about how the grandmother could be trying to save the misfits. It's sad. It is as if she had no fear, but her true passion was obvious. It goes to show that even though that bad things happen to good people and vice versa. You never know what could happen or what could change someone.

  2. Hi Cory,
    The rest of O'Connor's remarks about "A Good Man is Hard to Find" are posted as a blog post earlier in the week from me...