A Good Man is Hard to Find
How we cite our quotes:
[The Misfit:] "My daddy said I was a different breed of dog from my brothers and sisters. 'You know,' Daddy said, 'it's some that can live their whole life out without asking about it and it's others has to know why it is, and this boy is one of the latters. He's going to be into everything!"' (99)
Here we have an important insight into The Misfit's personality: he's curious. He's the kind of guy who asks The Big Questions. It's the first suggestion we get that The Misfit may act the way he does because he's thought about things. Viewed in this light, he's not just a thoughtless killer. What he's thought about, rather seriously as we'll see, is religion.
The grandmother noticed how thin his shoulder blades were just behind his hat because she was standing up looking down on him. "Do you ever pray?" she asked.
[The Misfit] shook his head. All she saw was the black hat wiggle between his shoulder blades. "Nome," he said. (106-107)
The grandmother is the first person who turns the conversation to religious territory. This transition seems a bit out of nowhere – it's the first time religion's come up in the story – and is the first inkling we get of religion on the grandmother's part. This random introduction to religion makes the grandmother's later suggestions to pray seem superficial. Nothing else in the story has led us to think that religion is an important part of her life, and her own values have more to do with being "decent" by society's standards than with religion. It's also interesting that the grandmother is standing above The Misfit and looking down on him when she begins this conversation. It's as if she's "speaking down" to him from the perspective of her own self-righteousness.
"I was a gospel singer for a while," The Misfit said. "I been most everything. Been in the arm service both land and sea, at home and abroad, been twict married, been an undertaker, been with the railroads, plowed Mother Earth, been in a tornado, seen a man burnt alive oncet…" (109)
That The Misfit was a gospel singer gives some background to his past relationship to religion. He'll also mention that his father was a member of a Baptist Church. Perhaps more important, though, is all the other things The Misfit has been. This seems to show a deep restlessness on his part. It's as if he's found nothing to be satisfied with, and is either still looking for something or has given up looking altogether.