Sunday, September 28, 2008

On the Definition of Goodness according to O'Connor

What does it mean to be a good woman or a good man? The word good itself is rather generic tending towards triteness. It is such a broad qualifier that it could be applied to everything and nothing. Good people are therefore difficult to define. Although the grandmother who is narrating the story claims that good men are hard to find, her definition of what is good is decidedly different from the Misfit’s, who claimed that she would have been good if faced with constant death. Although they disagree on what a good person is, they are very much in agreement on the elusive nature of this goodness in people.
Flannery O’Connor probably had a very distinct idea of what a good person was, and it was probably strongly related to Christianity. She would probably say that neither the grandmother nor the Misfit were good, mainly because neither one was a proper Christian. The narrator believes that being well-dressed and proper makes a good person, an idea that as a Christian Flannery O’Connor would almost certainly reject. It is probably the Misfit’s view of good which O’Connor is more in line with. The grandmother becomes a good person when she is able to think about more people than herself. The moment she attempts to embrace the Misfit and treat him as her own son, recognizing the fact that he is a stray sheep who can still be saved. In realizing this the narrator probably saves herself, considering the author’s Christian views, and attains the Misfits type of goodness. In the end that good act, is the single solitary good thing that happens in the entire story. No one is worth the label according to O’Connor. Good people are hard to find in her story, and the interesting thing is that the best definition of good is found in the socio-path who rejects it.

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