Does the Misfit's conversation with Bailey's mother alter his viewpoints?How do the conversations between the grandmother and the Misfit change his point of view?

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thewritingteacher eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The grandmother's sharp eyes recognized the Misfit as the escaped murderer while Bailey and the rest of the family were preoccupied with the "predicament." The Misfit was almost pleased to have been recognized, but it also sealed the fate of the family, including herself.

The grandmother tried flattery to save herself ("I know you must come from nice people") but all that did was make the Misfit nervous. He was almost embarassed with the whole family standing and staring at him, and the grandmother seized on that, telling him that he was "a good man at heart."

That comment didn't alter the Misfit's persona, but it allowed O'Connor to add depth to her villain by his story. The grandmother then tried a religious angle, but instead of changing the Misfit, it began to change HER. The Misfit blamed Jesus for "throw[ing] everything off balance, and making meanness the only pleasure in life.

It was then that there was a brief softening of the Misfit's mind and heart: the grandmother was paralyzed by her fear and so he was left with the sound of his own voice--and the admission that his life could have been different. When he began to show emotion, the grandmother reached out to him with compassion--and his mind and heart snapped shut to any feeling again as he shot her three times.

The only real change in the Misfit's viewpoint comes in the last line. Whereas when speaking with the grandmother he said that there was "No pleasure but meanness," in the final words he decides that "It's no real pleasure in life." 

Read the study guide:
A Good Man Is Hard to Find

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