In "A Good Man Is Hard to Find," what is the Misfit's favorite saying and what does it mean?

Expert Answers
merehughes eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The Misfit says that "Jesus threw everything off balance" and that he shouldn't have done it.

By connecting his life with Jesus dying for everyone's sins on the cross, he is trying to relate his story with that of Jesus. Jesus committed no crime in the eyes of most Christians and at least no crime that you could prove and similarly, the Misfit does not understand why a crime was put on him. He says, the difference is "they could prove I had committed one because they had papers on me." He likens his being put (he feels) unjustly in prison with Jesus' being put unjustly to death.

To the Misfit's mind, because Jesus committed no crime and was put to death this altered the balance of things. The Misfit believes you should be punished in relation to the suffering you have endured. "I call myself The Misfit," he said, "because I can't make what all I done wrong fit what all I gone through in punishment." Therefore, he sees nothing in life to prevent him from doing wrong if he is going to be punished no matter what he does.

teachersage eNotes educator| Certified Educator

We never directly learn that the Misfit has a favorite saying, but he says twice the one we most associate with him, with variation. It's the last sentence of the story and sums up the Misfit's weary viewpoint:

“It’s no real pleasure in life.”

Earlier, he had told the Grandmother that since he wasn't there as an eyewitness and couldn't believe in Jesus, he took:

"No pleasure but meanness"

"No pleasure but meanness" has the cadence of a saying—the type of words you say over and over to yourself to justify what you are doing. The fact that the Misfit makes a variation on this saying as the last line the story suggests he has undergone some sort of change. He has taken no pleasure in killing the Grandmother. He has, at least temporarily, moved from pleasure in being mean to being emptied of the ability to feel pleasure.

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

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