Consider again the climax of the short story “A Good Man Is Hard to Find” by Flannery O’Connor, especially the passages in boldface:
“I wasn’t there so I can’t say He didn’t,” The Misfit said. “I wisht I had of been there,” he said, hitting the ground with his fist. “It ain’t right I wasn’t there because if I had of been there I would of known. Listen lady,” he said in a high voice, “if I had of been there I would of known and I wouldn’t be like I am now.” His voice seemed about to crack and the grandmother’s head cleared for an instant. She saw the man’s face twisted close to her own as if he were going to cry and she murmured, “Why you’re one of my babies. You’re one of my own children!” She reached out and touched him on the shoulder. The Misfit sprang back as if a snake had bitten him and shot her three times through the chest. Then he put his gun down on the ground and took off his glasses and began to clean them. Hiram and Bobby Lee returned from the woods and stood over the ditch, looking down at the grandmother who half sat and half lay in a puddle of blood with her legs crossed under her like a child’s and her face smiling up at the cloudless sky. Without his glasses, The Misfit’s eyes were red-rimmed and pale and defenseless-looking. “Take her off and thow her where you thown the others,” he said, picking up the cat that was rubbing itself against his leg. “She was a talker, wasn’t she?” Bobby Lee said, sliding down the ditch with a yodel. “She would of been a good woman,” The Misfit said, “if it had been somebody there to shoot her every minute of her life.” “Some fun!” Bobby Lee said. “Shut up, Bobby Lee,” The Misfit said. “It’s no real pleasure in life.” TOPIC: How do you understand these last words and events? What idea is O’Connor wrestling with here? How are we supposed to feel about the Grandmother and the Misfit as the story ends? What does she discover in her final moment? What exactly does the Misfit mean when he says, “She would [have] been a good woman if…”?
Compose a literary essay of about 1000-1250 words in which you explore these questions. Note the research requirement below.*** Be sure to compose a clear, interpretive thesis statement (not just an obvious, superficial fact). Don’t write a “book report” on the story. Just answer the assigned question. Assume your reader already knows the characters and the plot. Refer to them; don’t explain them. Summarizing isn’t necessary. *** Write about fiction in the present tense. “The family IS DRIVING (not was driving) to Florida.” Quote from the story frequently, citing by page number. **** Use at least three scholarly sources (literary criticism) to help you defend your own interpretation. You must quote (or paraphrase) and cite this source material in your essay at least five times.