In Flannary O'Connor's short story, "A Good Man is Hard to Find," what are the religious tones?

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Flannery O'Connor describes her settings as the "Christ-haunted South." Therefore, there are usually overtones that are religious in nature in the narratives O'Connor composes. Certainly, the very title of the story in question indicates a certain religiosity: "A Good Man is Hard to Find" is uttered by Red Sammy as he converses with the grandmother, who concurs with him. 

After the family's accident on the isolated dirt road, the notorious Misfit and two other men (the religious number of three) step out of a car that has come down the road after seeing this accident. These three killers step out; the Misfit talks to the grandmother while the other two take Bailey and his wife and children and shoot them. When she finally realizes what has happened, the grandmother tries to get the Misfit to believe in God. But, as O'Connor contends, "You must believe in order to understand, not understand to believe."

The Misfit has spent years trying to understand, but all he can conclude is that

"Jesus was the only One ever raised the dead, and He shouldn't have done it. He thrown everything off balance."

Finally, the grandmother looks up at the Misfit and has a moment of grace, a moment of psychological clarity that saves her. As a symbol of this, as she dies from being shot, her legs are crossed. That she has received grace is indicated by the Misfit's remark, "She would have been a good woman, ...if it had been somebody there to shoot her every minute of her life."

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A Good Man Is Hard to Find

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