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Divine Grace in a Good Man Is Hard to Find by Flannery O’Connor

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    Divine Grace is a theory much associated with Christianity. It is known as when the imperfect are made perfect. It isn’t just for people, but also for actions. O’Connor’s works are much known for having very many religious themes and overtones in them. This is very understandable since she grew up in Georgia in the 1920’s and 30’s. Many people and critics do not understand why O’Connor’s works were so violent, with her being such a religious woman.

    She has explained that the reason she uses such violence in her works is to prove that even the most ignorant of people, like the grandmother in this story, can be shown that they need to accept their time of grace. The grandmother in the story “A Good Man is Hard to Find” is a very controlling manipulative lady. She makes herself out to be better than everyone else by claiming to be a “lady. ” She also acts like she is above everyone else because she has old south manners. O’Connor displays this in the grandmother’s actions and her dialogues.

    One early example of this is when they first get in the car and John Wesley exclaims how he Harvey2. would like to get through Georgia fast so he will not have to look at much of it, the grandmother replies with “In my time, children were more respectful of their native states and their parents and everything else. People did right then. ” This proves her old southern ways and view on things early on. The grandmother’s way of religion is also very prominent in this story. She always talks about praying and the bible.

    This theme is what leads to showing her time of “divine grace” in the end of this story. The end of this story comes when the family comes into contact with the Misfit. After the Misfit has killed the rest of her family she starts to show her true colors of religion and southern ways. She begins to say things like “you wouldn’t shoot a lady would you” or preaching from the Bible to him. This is when she has her time of divine grace. She starts acting like every true lady should act. The grandmother does not realize that as much as she has thought about Jesus, the Misfit has thought more.

    The grandmother sees Jesus as the ultimate savior to right and wrong, while the Misfit has his doubts in Jesus. These doubts lead the Misfit to see no right or wrong in life, and also because of this he sees no point to life. These two differences in opinions on Jesus are what make this story so controversial. Since the Misfit sees no point to life and sees no right and wrong he obviously shoots her. After all, there is no right and no wrong to him so he sees no reason to spare her life.

    He feels like she is taunting him with empty religious threats. He can tell that she does not mean everything she is saying, and that is why after the misfit shoots her he Harvey3. says, “She would have been a good woman, if it had been somebody there to shoot her every minute of her life. ” This quote is showing how if the grandmother had accepted the divine grace shown to her she may have led a more righteous life. I feel like even though all this goes on, the grandmother never fully has the divine grace moment.

    I feel like she knew that playing the “Holy card” was not going to work with the Misfit, but she was too prideful to accept defeat and give it up. The ending of this story was written to be interpreted however the reader wanted to interpret it. I happen to interpret it as no divine grace for the grandmother. I feel this way because I feel like the Grandmother feels like she is better than everyone else. She claims to be a lady and have such southern ways, that she feels are superior also. This was a very good story and the way Flannery O’Connor wrote the ending to be open was immaculate.

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    Divine Grace in a Good Man Is Hard to Find by Flannery O’Connor. (2017, Jan 04). Retrieved from

    Frequently Asked Questions

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    What is O'Connor saying about a good man in society?
    "A Good Man Is Hard to Find," first published in 1953, is among the most famous stories by Georgia writer Flannery O'Connor. O'Connor was a staunch Catholic, and like most of her stories, "A Good Man Is Hard to Find" wrestles with questions of good and evil and the possibility of divine grace.
    What is the meaning of divine grace?
    Divine grace is a theological term present in many religions. It has been defined as the divine influence which operates in humans to regenerate and sanctify, to inspire virtuous impulses, and to impart strength to endure trial and resist temptation; and as an individual virtue or excellence of divine origin.
    What is the significance of the misfit's saying she would of been a good woman if it had been somebody there to shoot her every minute of her life?
    At the story's end, the Misfit says of the Grandmother, “She would of been a good woman . . . if it had been somebody there to shoot her every minute of her life.” Flannery O'Connor may not necessarily believe that being exposed to violence makes us better people, but the message is clear: violence changes us.

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