In "A Good Man is Hard to Find," what does the Misfit mean by his 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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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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In Flannery O'Connor's world of fiction, grace is often obtained from an act of evil, or through the agency of violence that acts as a catalyst for spiritual epiphany. In the case of the egotistical grandmother who puts her own desires ahead of any of her family members, it is only after her son Bailey and his wife and children are killed and she herself is faced with death that she looks up at the Misfit and recognizes their commonality, "Why....You're one of my own children!"

O'Connor's approach to spirituality is likened to that of the German philosopher Martin Heidegger and his concept of Dasein, "being-there," a state in which death represents the point at which existence becomes complete, whether for better or for worse. Thus, according to critic Elisabeth Piedmont-Marton, when the grandmother repeats, "Jesus, Jesus," she is calling upon her Christian faith, a faith she has merely flaunted rather than lived. Moreover, it is at this point that she truly believes and recognizes her connection to the man who has tried to understand. However, when she reaches out to him with her words that he is like her, the Misfit recoils from her and rejects the grace that he could receive. Nevertheless, the Misfit's final words about her--"if it had been somebody there to shoot her every minute of her life"--acknowledge his role in the grandmother's attainment of grace.