What are some examples of irony that relates to the theme in "A Good Man is Hard to Find"?

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accessteacher eNotes educator| Certified Educator

One of the themes of this excellent short story is the way that the grandmother is presented at the beginning of the tale as being profoundly disconnected with everybody else around her through her selfishness and prejudice. However, through the tragic course of events that occur during the novel, she ends up experiencing an epiphany that challenges those views where she is able to see herself for who she really is. Note how she expresses this epiphany through a feeling of connection with the Misfit at the end of the story:

She saw the man's face twisted close to her own as if he were going to cry and she murmured, "Why, you're one of my babies. You're one of my own children!" She reached out and touched him on the shoulder.

It is ironic that the grandmother only received this understanding of grace at the end of the story, and that it takes the murder of her son's family for her to experience it. It seems that the violence she encounters in the Misfit and his crew was necessary to make her experience the grace of God, which is such an important theme in this story. As the Misfit says, she could have been a good woman if she'd have had "somebody there to shoot her every minute of her life." Irony then occurs in the story through the precise nature of the Grandmother's epiphany and what it takes for that epiphany to occur.

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A Good Man Is Hard to Find

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