A Good Man is Hard to Find
by Flannery O'Connor
A Good Man is Hard to Find Good vs. Evil Quotes
How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Paragraph)
"Then you'll know what you done and you can hold up the crime to the punishment and see do they match and in the end you'll have something to prove you ain't been treated right. I call myself The Misfit," he said, "because I can't make what all I done wrong fit what all I gone through in punishment." (129)
The Misfit claims not to understand how what he's done that merits the punishment he's received. Is it because he doesn't feel what he's done to be "wrong," and doesn't deserve punishment at all? That's what some of his earlier remarks suggest. Or could it be because he thinks everybody commits acts that are "wrong," but only some get punished? Or does he actually think that what he's done is wrong but doesn't deserve to be punished as harshly as it is?
"No pleasure but meanness," [The Misfit] said and his voice had become almost a snarl. (134)
The Misfit commits crimes – killing people and destroying thing – because there's nothing else for him to do. He's not motivated by any desire for gain, and he doesn't believe in the concepts of right and wrong. Destruction seems to be the only thing that gives him pleasure. But you might wonder: given that he recognizes what he does to be "mean," doesn't he have some sense of right and wrong? Could it be that it's just because something is wrong that it gives him pleasure to do it?
"She would of been a good woman," The Misfit said, "if it had been somebody there to shoot her every minute of her life." (140)
Here someone besides the grandmother is talking about being "good," only this time it's the person who's obviously not good. After all the grandmother said about "good people" and The Misfit himself being good, The Misfit now judges that she would have been good in the unlikely circumstance of him continuously threatening to shoot her. What does The Misfit mean when he says this? It looks like he's recognizing that the grandmother's final act, for which he killed her, was genuinely good. This implies that it was her confrontation with him, and with death, which made her good. But if the grandmother only became good at that moment, what does it mean to be good?