“Moral Code” Imagine watching evening news Easter weekend and headlining story of the night is a senseless murder of an entire family. Our normal reaction would be filled with distain and disgust. Leaving unanswered questions like “why” or “how could someone do that? ” What drives someone to kill other people? Where is their Moral Code? Most stories like this will give you the killers interpretation of why their moral code went astray and usually gain your empathy, even though you don’t agree.
In the short story by Flannery O’Connor, “A Good Man is Hard to Find” I don’t feel this story was written in a manner to persuade people to accept a moral code. The story doesn’t give you any insight to anyones moral, in my opinion. There is however, the grandmothers flailing attempt to seem moral, with her southern upbringing and towards the end of her life her Christian faith. The Grandmother has a strong southern up bringing which is pointed out several times in the story. One example in the text is when she describes the purple spray of cloth violets containing a sachet, in case she is found dead, so she will know for being a “lady”.
Another example is when grandmother talks about being courted by southern gentlemen when she was younger. Yet another example, when grandmother tries to bond with the Misfit, telling him how she knows he isn’t at all “common”. In the last example she attempts to sway the Misfit in such a way to earn his favortisim by bringing up their common bond of being from southern blood. There are several attempts in the beginning to convince the family to return to her home Tennesse instead of going to Florida.
Both states are considered southern, but the pride of where she is from resounds, especially when the young John Wesly mentioned wanting to get out of Georgia as fast as possible, and granmother responded, “In my time, children were more respectful of their native states and their parents and everything else” I get the impression while reading this story that grandmother thinks of herself higher than the son’s family. For example, she frowned at the children’s behavior, she seemed unimpressed her son’s wife, who has no name in the story.
She didn’t really seem to take the seriousness of the situation as the son and his child were lead to the woods. I found it most ironic that in the beginning of the story, she was hell bent on not going to Florida because of the Misfit in the papers. Ultimately it was her misguided attempt to sight see that put the family on the dirt road that lead to them running directly into the path of the Misfit. Grandmother remembers that the road she wanted was in reality, back in her beloved Tennessee, but she makes a note to herself not to mention it to her son .
At the same time, she didn’t have the sense of the not mention out loud when she recognized the Misfit from the paper. As far as the parents response to the Misfit, I feel they knew the ultimate outcome and were behaving, unselfishly, in a manner to keep the children as calm as they could. In the end, the grandmother is still more focused on her own survival, expressing no moral outrage at what just happened to her son and grandson or as the mother and daughter are being led out to the woods. Several times she mentions to the Misfit, “You wouldn’t shoot a lady would you? The Misfit and his fellow fugitives are not nice guys, but that was evident from the newspaper reports in the beginning. I think as a reader you don’t expect him to have a moral code other than perhaps a code to be unmoral as necessary. I did get the impression he was a simple man, either suffering from a mental illness or from a learning disability. He had broken language skills, that was obvious, but mostly I get the impression he did’t think like other people, for example, when he couldn’t recall why he was in jail.
He spoke highly of his father but seemed otherwise emotionless about everything else, such as the weather, the way they drove to the accident scene, the cat on his leg after he killed grandma. Life seemed to be very mundane to the Misfit. He was emotionless regardless if he was talking about fixing the car or telling the guys to take them into the woods. The most substantial statement in the story for me was also the only tell tale sign of higher thinking from the Misfit. When the Misfit said of the grandmother, she would have been a good women if somebody was there to shoot her every minute of her life”
In conclusion, I found I had no real expectation of morality while reading short story, “A Good Man is Hard to Find”. Ultimately, I was not taken by surprise by the lack of moral code displayed by the Misfit. It was however, surprising to see how the grandmothers attempt to seem moral with her southern upbringing and her Christian faith. More commonly you will find stories like this will give you the killers interpretation of why their moral code went astray and usually gain your empathy. This story does not take us on the journey into why the Misfit is where he is in life.