A Hidden Religious Message
Flannery OConnor, a Catholic writer, makes religious references through out her short story A Good Man Is Hard to Find. Everyone views religion differently in the world. Catholics think more in depth than most of the other religions. Colors in the Catholic Church represent seasons and have specific meanings. The names of people, places, and items hold special significance in the faith. In this tale, the Grandmother and the Misfit disagree on their ideas about God until the end. Symbolism and characters create a religious theme. Colors, names, and numbers reveal how symbolism helps construct a religious theme.
First color symbolizes a religious theme. By the use of black, the reader gets the feeling of death. Pitty Sing the black cat, sprang onto Baileys shoulder causing Bailey to wreck the car (410). In addition, the big black battered hearse-like automobile gives a strong sensation of death (411). The darkness of the woods behind them also gives a sensation of death. The color red means passion, fire, blood, or Gods love. The meaning of the color purple stands for penance, humility, and melancholy. When the grandmother points out the details of Stone Mountain, the brilliant red clay banks slightly streaked with purple, show the meaning of blood and penance (406). The color green stands for Holy Ghost, life, and eternal hope. The detail the grandmother points out is the various crops that made rows of green lace-work means there is eternal hope still (406). The meaning of silver and white simply stands for light, innocence, purity, joy, triumph, and glory. The trees were full of silver-white sunlight stands for innocence or purity (406). The color pink represents joy. When Bailey decides to go down the dirt road to see the house, a swirl of pink dust forms behind them (410). Therefore, the pink dust stands for the joy the Misfit is going to receive. Colors give insight to the story in order to foreshadow what is going to happen.
Next, a name symbolizes a religious theme. In the Catholic religion, names always have a considerable amount meaning behind them. Certain names get remembered by what they have done or accomplished. Others are remembered by what all the wrongness done to the Catholic Church. For instance, the Catholic Church remembers the name John Wesley, a character from A good Man Is Hard to Find, for what he has done. Starting as an English priest, John Wesley is one of the founders for the Methodist Church. He broke off the Catholic religion and started one that fit his needs. Just like the character John Wesley in A Good Man Is Hard to Find.
In addition, numbers also symbolize a religious theme. In the Bible, numbers stand for numerous meanings. In the story, at eight forty-five in the morning Bailey and his family leave Atlanta heading toward Florida. The time of eight forty-five in the morning stands for the resurrection of Jesus Christ. It states in the Bible on the third day Jesus rose from the dead and was seated next to the Father. Also, the Misfit shoots the Grandmother three times in her chest. In Catholic beliefs the unification of the three Devine Spirits: The Father, The Son, and The Holy Spirit in one Godhead. The Misfit deems himself to be a representative of all three Divine Spirits. He also transforms the Grandmother into a childlike state in death illustrating his beliefs that he has given her a fresh start or rebirth just as Jesus did.
Finally, characters create a religious theme. The views of the Grandmother and Misfit on Christianity add a thought provoking, religious flair to the story. The Grandmother represents godliness and Christianity, which is more hypocritical than prevalent in the traditional old south, the grandmother had on a navy blue straw sailor hat with a bunch of white violets on the brim and a navy blue dress with a small white dot in the print. Her color and cuffs were white organdy trimmed with lace, and at her neckline, she pinned a purple stray of cloth violets containing a sachet. In case of and accident, anyone seeing her dead on the highway would know at once that she was a lady(406). In this reading, the importance in on purity and southern Christianity as if she is getting ready to attend church. The grandmother displays the proper image of a southern Christian woman in the presence of other people. Her clothing, her perfection, and her attitude are truly religious. In reality, the grandmother is exceedingly selfish. She preaches and give sermons thought the story yet in the face of danger, she thinks only of herself. The grandmother uses gender roles, you would not shoot a lady would you, (412) and religious images to try to save herself. She preaches and prays to the Misfit as if he is Jesus, Jesusyouve got good blood, Jesus you ought not to shoot a lady (415). She radiates and aura of holiness at the same tome sounding self-serving. On the other, hand the Misfit symbolizes evil. At one point, the Misfit likens himself to Christ, stressing the fact that they were punished for crimes they did not commit. Christ accepted death for the sins of all humanity. The Misfit did not accept reprimand and killed many innocent people instead. Jesus thrown everything off balance. It was the same case with Him as with me except he hadnt committed any crime and they could prove I had committed one because they had papers on me (415). The grandmothers total religious transformation comes upon her while facing the final moments of her life. She is facing the Misfit listening to him reminisce on his life with his mother and father. At that moment, the grandmother realizes that everyone is a child from God above. She wants the Misfit to realize God forgives everyone and is saved by the grace of God. Why youre one of my babies. Youre one of my own children (415). The Misfit, in his exploitation of Christ, acts as a judge and executioner to the grandmother, The Misfit sprang back as if a snake had bitten him and shots her.
A Good Man Is Hard to Find focuses on Christianity being filled with sin and punishment, good and evil, belief and unbelief. No matter what religion the reader may be, he or she can still derive meanings from this tale, since the unifying feeling of unity is common among major religions. The gruesome and surprising ending not only shocks readers, but also it may cause them to think about their life more in-depth.