From 11:00PM PDT on Friday, July 1 until 5:00AM PDT on Saturday, July 2, the Shmoop engineering elves will be making tweaks and improvements to the site. That means Shmoop will be unavailable for use during that time. Thanks for your patience!
Bring on the tough stuff - there’s not just one right answer.
All right, we've got to ask it: do you think the moment of grace is a moment of grace? Why or why not? How does the story change if it isn't?
If the grandmother's moment of grace isn't actually a moment of grace, what is it? And how do you interpret The Misfit's reaction to it?
Could the grandmother have something like the moment of grace without bringing God into the picture? How would that change the story?
If you do read the moment of grace as a real moment of grace or something like it, how responsible was she for it, and how responsible was the situation, The Misfit, or even God? Why does she receive it when she does?
Even if you read the grandmother's gesture as a moment of grace, does this moment lose its meaning since she dies right afterward?
How much do you think the story's meaning depends upon the religious perspective of the author? How much do you think it depends on the religious perspective of the reader? Is the author the best person to say what the story means? What does it mean to describe what the story "means"?
If you don't read the story religiously, does it work as well as a story? Does it have a message? Does it have as clear of a structure? How would you judge that? (Try to answer this question even if it isn't the way you read the story).
What's the grandmother really like? Is she a manipulative genius? A superficial and selfish woman? A rather average grandmother, with her share of human faults? A positively lovely lady? Does she remind you of other people you know?
Are any of O'Connor's characters sympathetic? Is the grandmother sympathetic? The Misfit?
Is the story hopeful or cynical? How do you feel at the end?
Why does The Misfit not order the grandmother into the woods with Bobby Lee and Hiram? Would he have done it anyway if he hadn't shot her first?
Given how much of the story seems to center on the grandmother and The Misfit, what do we do with the other characters? Are they just there for show or comic relief? Can it be a hopeful story if they die?
How do you think The Misfit sees the grandmother throughout the story? By the end? How, if at all, does she affect him?
Is The Misfit a believable character, and a believable personification of evil? Why or why not?
Could a grandfather have filled the role of the grandmother in the story?