@Everyone- What do you all think the theme is in this story?
Why do you think that the author chose to not give the mother a name? I was just wondering becuase she was the only character that didn't have a name.
I thought the theme was that no matter where you go and how hard you try to avoid it you're always going to find trouble
What aspects of the Southern Gothic can be seen in this story?
Sarahn- maybe to make the mother seem more like anybody's mother. Like these story could happen to anyone.
@ Amanda:I think that the theme of this story is sort of a tale of redemptive grace in a fallen world maybe. The Misfit is a fallen sinner and the grandmother is somewhat of the same, she has her ways about her and at the end you feel some sort of sympathy.
Grant- Yes that does sound like a good theme for the story, it could also be something to do with the uncanny of how even on a roadtrip to get away from everything trouble will still catch up to you.
@ Amanda -- I think that one of the themes in the story is that trouble is going to follow you no matter what you do to try and avoid it.
This sort of answers Amanda's question: I noticed that the grandmother and Red Sam menton "good men" on page three and the grandmother references this often. What do you think this means about whether being "good" is good enough? Although she tells The Misfit that she knows he is a good man, he kills the family. Also, although she is immersed in the past "goodness", her children are not very "good". This issue is apart of the theme of the story.
Hannah G. - Southern traditions I saw in the story were close familial ties (she wanted to visit family in east Tennessee), close religious ties and somewhat of a racial barrier.
@Sarah- Well the grandmother didn't have a name either. But possibly the grandma didn't have a name because the author wanted to remind you throughout the story that the character acting rude and annoying was the grandmother. This would be because the actions of this grandma are not like a normal grandmother would act. Like Sydney said a grandma is usually sweet and innocent, but in this story the grandma is portrayed to be assertive and kind of a burden on the family.
Hannah, The set and the pridefull nature of the grandmother are both very southern ideals.
Hannah- Like the fischobowl has commented we can see a reoccuring theme of religion in many southern gothic stories, obviously, religion plays a part in the every day lives of southeners and we see these theme unfold in a good man is hard to find
Alex: I agree with you. The absense of a name gave her more of a universal feeling. Also, maybe she didn't have a name to further play on the architype of a typical grandmother vs. this woman.
Hannah:The Southern Gothic aspects of the story are seen a lot in the setting. The mentioning of plantations and being in Georgia. Also, the idea of tradition is running throughout the story adding a certain stiffness.
In every Gothic story we've read there has been someone who has some form of insanity- Usher after Madeline's death, narrator's obsession with William Wilson, village stoning the person who won the lottery... Why do you think that every author adds that aspect?
When the grandmother is telling the Misfit that he should pray, the author uses that as a deeper meaning to the reader. They are trying to tell us that there is good and every evil, and that anyone can do good if they want to. When the misfit tells the grandmother that he has reached a point where he can't remember what he has done wrong, he just knows that he does it, and gets punished, and the cycle repeats.
@ sarah-- it may be to emphasize that she is the mother. For instance, when hunting, hunters try not to kill the doe or fawn, because they are helpless, and they are needed to continue the population, and also becausee that is just horrible, killing a mother or a child. This may emphasize his name as "the misfit"
Hannah- One southern gothic example is that the grandma looked at the african american boy and they all looked at him as if they thought it was a rare sight. There was also strong religious ties between what the grandma want and what the misfit wants.
Hannah- The plantations and racial elements play a big part of the Southern Gothic. Also there is a strangness to this "normal" family. I also agree with Grant, that the religious elements in this also are sommewhat southern.
Why did the grandmother not express sorrow for her family when they were killed and contiinued to plea for her own life instead of her family's?
Hannah-It has an uncanny aspect because this horrific event happens to a family that could possibly happen to anyone. It's kind of unnerving.
Do you guys think the Misfit was actually the son of grandmother becuase I'm still confused about that part?
Mary Catherine-- I think that maybe the author was trying to say that being "good" isn't "good" enough.. If you know what I'm saying. Maybe he is trying to say that you should aim for something higher than good, like aim for better or aim for best.
Why do you guys think that the author made The Misfit give the mother and her child an option of whether to go with her husband or not? "Lady," He asked, "would you and that little girl like to step off yonder and join your husband?"
@ Kelsey -- I would agree with you, the grandmother was not given a name so that she could fit into any situation. It almost makes it feel like it could be your own grandmother.
@Brian- No I think the Grandmother just said that because she was trying to get through to the killer on a personal level as an attempt to prevent him from killing her.
Grant-Because she was not willing to give up her own life in order to save the rest of her family's.
Alexandria- I think that form of madness or insanity is a perfect idea of the uncanny, in which we see someone or something that looks fairly familiar yet there is something that makes the reader realize something is wrong.
I feel as though this story provoked feelings of detatchment from it's charecters, rather than try to put you in their position as it did in other stories such as "Fall of The House Of Usher. Why is that? What aspects of this story contribute to that?
@ Alex-- Ypor question connects with the comments about how death is treated with nonchalance, they act like it doesn't matter. Perhaps it is insanity, or not, maybe it is just the drastic difference between the Host and Guest.
Brian- I tink that the grandma started calling him "son", she started going insane almost. He was wearing her sons shirt, so maybe she was in denial thinking that he was her son.
Amanda-even though the misfit is a muderer, he seems to try and act decent even when they are about to kill people. The misfit wanted to be nice to the ladies, but at the same time he felt like he had to kill them and that he had no choice.
Brian: I was also confused about that segment. Again, I wondered how his behaviour somehow reflected her incoherence in seeking this undefined "goodness". One of my questions was: How, if the grandmother is so dignified, did her son end up so miserably? I think this relates to your question.
@Brian- I think that The Misfit was not the grandmother's son. She was getting very tired and dellusional so I think that she was probably making up anything to try and stay alive. There is no way that she would just suddenly remember she had a lost son, she would have mentioned it beore.
Grant- The grandmother is selfish and was worried about losing her own life, and wasn't thinking about anyone else.
Alex, that is a good point. Gothic liturature is all about contradicting rationalism. Mabey you have to be crazy to break the rules.
paiges- I think that she told him to pray as if to say "hey if you're going to do this, realize you have to deal with God later," and was trying to give him a choice. Maybe if he would have prayed that he would then rethink about killing them.
@ Amanda - Maybe it's because The Misfit, even though he's a monster, still held up unconscious values that forced him to talk politely to other people even though he was psyco.
Alexandria-I agree with Ben that insanity adds interest to the story because it creates characters who are scary and unpredictable but also sympathetic. It also creates the feeling of the uncanny in which the character appears to be normal or rational but is really insane.
Grant:I think that it's because of what the Misfit said "She would have been a good woman, if it had been somebody there to shoot her every minute of her life." The grandmother was a selfish person who in her last moments reaches out for God's grace and redemption by acknowledging the Misfit as one of her own children.
Ally: That's the conclusion I've drawn. And I think it is one of the themes. Although good men are hard to find and good men do right, they are not necessarily "great" nor are they happy. The Misfit also seems to rebel against this "goodness" in his evil, as though everything is relative.
Kelseyc-- I am reading a book right now and the main character in that book is the exact same way. I have always been taught that a good author has a way of making you connect with their characters on a very personal level, but in this story and in The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway, it seems as though the authors go out of their way to make you feel so disconnected with their characters... I can't figure this one out, have any thoughts?
Kelsey- The way that the author makes the family dysfunctional and unconnected, it goes against the normal Southern family feelings. Which made the reader unable to connect with the characters.
Alexandria, That is a good connection between the gothic literature we have read. I think that authors add this aspect because the point of gothic stories is to show a side of mystery and hidden meaning, and they do this by taking a simple event and turning it into an uncanny happening that takes place spontaneously. The calm manner in which these inhumane acts occur adds to the confusion of how the reader is supposed to interpret the story. By adding this aspect, authors have created their own genre that has a standard expectation line for stories like the ones we have read.
Benjaminm- True also, they said they meantion God a lot. Which is another Southern gothic aspect; the south is very religious from what I've noticed. Every piece of literture I have read about the South, God is meantion at least once.
Amanda- I think that it wasnt really an option for the mother, it was more irony on the Misfits part. I think the mother knew that her husband was dead. The irony is that he does act very polite while doing this horrible act.
@Everyone- How, if at all, do you think this story relates to the author? Could it have been an exaggerated past experience?
Why does the misfit feel like he has to kill the family? Is it because the grandma recognized him or is it something else?
@ Sami -- I would agree with you, but I also think that you can somewhat connect this family to, we all know what a disfunctional family is like, and I think that we can connect with it.
Sami-I disagree that the author made the reader unable to connect with the characters. Many people are exposed to dysfunction and a lack of connectedness in their own lives so in many ways I think they could espeacially connect to this story and the Grandmother. Furthermore, I think southern culture is in general very dysnfunctional and is not as happy as it would seem. I think the author was trying to show this in the typical southern gothic way.
@Brian- The fact that the grandma recognizing him most likely was the deciding factor if he was going to kill them or not. But it is possible that he would have killed them, even if the grandmother hadn't recognized him, because he obviously enjoys killing people.
Alex, I have noticed that also. Remeber that southern gothic is trying to quesstion the traditions of the south. This is why at the end of teh story, the misfit basicaly says christianity is pointless.
@ Brian C-- I think it is because he follows what he thinks are good ideas. He says his father never had problems with the police, which implies illegal activities. He may be following his dad's example, or his own intuition, but he is making sure there are no witnesses.
Mary Catherine-- What makes a person do what the Misfit did? To rebel against the goodness that so many people strive for? Maybe it's because they have a whole life time filled with them seeking to be "good", but it was never good enough for anyone. I don't know if you've ever seen the musical Wicked, or know anything about it, but in this story, the main witch tries her whole life to live up to the standard of being "good". It is never enough for anyone, so she embraces the saying "No good deed goes unpunished", gives up on being good altogether and embraces her wicked side.
Amanda:I think that the author's main purpose of the story was to get across that grace is for everyone, even those who seem undeserving or selfish. She was a writer who incorperated her beliefs and Roman Catholic religion to show human ethics and life lessons.
@ Amanda - Possibly, but this is such a far-fetched, ironic short story that it seems like it would be a small chance that this may have happened to the author. There is, however, the possibility that the author had a close-to-death situation with a serial killer that could have inspired him for this story.
Brian: I think that the Misfit aims for the families, for the people that exist in that gray range of being lukewarm. (Does that make sense?) The grandmother seems to be his main target and in saying she would have been good if shot every day, he means that someone needs to humble people and his insanity tells him he is that someone.
Ally: I think that perhaps the author does this so that you are more objective. By not being emotionally attatched one is able to look at all aspects of the story and truly absorb the real meaning behind the message rather than being blinded by emotions and taking away a moral that was shielded and morphed by personal connection.
paiges- So based on what you've said about insanity in Gothic literature that every author that writes that type of genere, puts the insanity to make the situtiation that takes place, seem like it could happen to anyone and any place? So any normal person could go insain because of the situtation?
Amanda- I looked up some background info on Flannery O'Connor and it said that she described herself as "pigeon-toed child with a receding chin and a you-leave-me-alone-or-I'll-bite-you complex." And I've heard the inner circle talking a lot about how The Misfit doesn't like having to ask for help. That may have had some affect on the forming of The Misfit.
Do you guys think the misfit was symbolic of anything? Is it possible that they were trying to show the philosophical confusions and questions many people struggle with and the difficulty we can have with dealing with these questions, or am I rationalizing an irrational character?
Paul- I agree that this family almosts makes you more able to cocnnect. Becuase you can see that they aren't perfect you almost feel like this could happen to you. Also, I feel like the people who are so perfect in stories almost make you feel bad about yourself if they could die then why wouldn't it happen to you.
I was just wondering if the Misfit’s conversation with Bailey’s mother alter his viewpoints in any way?
@ Brian C. - I think that The Misfit killed the family because most serial killers look for oppurtunities to kill, and The Misfit just saw this as a perfect oppurtunity to kill a family without being seen or caught.
They have been talking about this a little in the inner circle, but what is the symbolism behind The Misfit's name?
Brian C.- If the Misfit let the family live, then he would be leaving witnesses. I think he needed to kill them to feel power. It is what he is used to and what he thinks is right.
Ally- As far as the book your reading being about a book that does not help you connect with the charcters it could be the author wanting the reader to seek out information about something that is unknown or different to them
@ Amanda-- I have to disagree with you. In relation to his action, and his words especially to his follower at the end, show he did not enjoy killing at all, merely did it because he was subscribing to the stereotype he was given, and from necessity.
Why does the author portray the encounter between the family and the Misfit in such a calm way? Why is the situation handled so peacefully, with no one trying to stand up and fight back? The author makes the reader feel little pity for the family because they are generally snobby and rude. How does this change the atmosphere of the story and cause the reader to not feel as bad for them? When they stop for food, the grandmother makes two statements that contradict each other while talking to Red Sam. She first says "People are certainly not nice like they used to be." and then one line later she says "Because your a good man!" She tells the reader that it is hard to trust people anymore, and then turns around and tells a complete stranger that he is a good man. What is the significance of the grandmothers contradicting statements at Red Sam's place?
Question: Do you think that in an ironic way, us, the readers, are meant to connect with each character: the grandmother, son, daughter-in-law, grandchildren, and Misfit? (Just a thought...)
Paul- I think the misfit can symbolize the evil in people that are kind and the kindness in people that are evil. Many feel that in some situation they get angry even though they are overall a kind person. The misfit was a murder, but he still always tried to be kind to the family.
Kristen- I dont think that it altered his viewpoints, but I do believe that it did force him to think more about what he was doing and how he justified it.
@ Kristen M. - It does not seem like the conversation the grandmother had with the Misfit altered his viewpoints mostly because when the Misfit gave his answers to any of her questions or insights it seemed very concrete, as if he was not going to change his thinking or views based on someone else's views.
Maybe the Misfit kills people because then he feels in control. He talked about how his father died of an illness. This is something uncontrollable, so he may suffer a need to kill to feel that he can in fact conqure life.
@Kristen- I don't think that the conversation with Bailey's grandmother altered the Misfit's actions because at the end he said that "she would of been a good woman if it had been somebody there there to shoot her every minute of her life." I think this shows that he didn't like talking to her very much even if he did connect with her a little bit.
In the end, The Misfit picks up a cat, which is something that is not typically very friendly. It's interesting that he repelled himself backwards at when the grandmother put her hand on her shoulder, but held a cat to him.
Alexandria, What do you mean when you say that a normal person could go into this situation and go insane?
Briana- Why do you think they treat death with such a lack of value? Obviously they aren't in the right state of mind, but do you think that there is something beyond what the reader see that causes them to make that decision?
Mary Catherine- Yes I kind of do think that we are supposed to connect with these characters. Becuase it is a gothic story I think the author is trying to make it scary for the readers, but if we can't connect how are we suppposed to be afraid. That's why the uncanny is so creepy becuase you can connect to the people. When a house seems like a safe place, but then all of the sudden it's haunted it makes you feel vulnerable in your own home.
Kelseyc-- Yeah I think that is a really good explanation of this. With this story being a Gothic story, there is always going to be something that is pretty shocking and disturbing to us as the reader. Regardless of how we feel about the character, we will probably be a little weirded out. But then add this layer of us feeling detached, and we are even more unbiased and can look at it with an even more rational eye, so it might make whatever was done more weird.
Hayley-I think the most obvious symbolic intrepretation is that he feels as though he is a misfit within society. He is struggling with questions and confusions about his faith and he does not feel that most people struggle with these problems so he views himself as a misfit. However, I think he also may have just given himself this name to creating a terryfying and chaotic persona.
Mabey A reason why the misfit decided to kill the family was because he felt like others should feel how unjustly and unfairly he was treated when he went to jail.
So if the Misfit thought that he was justified, then what does it mean to be good, and what does it mean to be evil? Is good and evil just and idea that is set into a person's mind as a type of boundary?
Paiges- So, let's say that you where in this story (yet you have in past of insanity in your family)however, because the misfit crossed paths with you; you made the same decisions as the characters in the story. Whereas in normal day life you wouldn't do that.
Why do you guys think the grandmother was killed last?
Something weird/cool I just found John Wesley's name is the same as the founder of Methodism. Methodism was "a movement of Protestant Christianity represented by a number of organizations" That is another way that O'Connor incoporates her religious background.
@ All, How do you think that the characters change in the story, did the Grandma become a good woman? And what constitutes a good person? Is there an actual line or not?
Paige: The grandmother is a hypocrite. She seeks this other reality of comfort, good behavior, yet lies to her children, makes references to wishing she'd lived another life and also what you noticed. She is not so "good". However, what does this mean about the antithesis of being good?
@ Brian - I think the grandmother was killed last because she was engaged in a conversation with him and for some weird reason he wanted to continue the conversation with her longer.
Brian- It seemed like the misfit almost enjoyed talking to the grandma, and even though he didn't agree with what she said, he definitly seemed like he gave thought to what she was saying.
@Brian- the grandmother was most likely killed last because the author wanted to keep a little bit of suspense to whether she will die or not. And because she was the main character in the story and he had to keep it interesting with her in it.
What's truly frightning about this story is that anyone can be on the side of the road. So many people get in car crashes, it is such a vulnerable position. It connects to everyone else's fears. Vulnerablility is part of life. Then we leave it up to chance.
Kristen-Yes ultimately everything in life simply exists within the construction of our minds as individuals and from this how we choose to construct our societies. All of our values simply belong to us and I dont think their is an ultimate moral right and wrong, it is ultimately a subject of personal belief and experience.
Alex- I have noticed that lack of emotional response towards death has been incorporated in all of the Gothics. Like in "A Rose for Emily" when her father died she met the townspeople at her door "dressed as usual and with no trace of grief on her face." and in "The Lottery" they treated the stoning as though it were an everyday occurrence.
@ Alex-- I think they are somewhat resigned to it, at least "the misfit" is. His followers seem to enjoy it, but he seems resigned to doing it like a person resigns themself to doing a difficult monotonous chore, because it has to be done. I think "the misfit" does so because he is a practical person, who sees that the advantages of killing witnesses outwieighs the disadvantage of committing just one more crime of many.
BenS-- I had never thought of it that way but that makes a lot of sense. The intentional disconnection could be meant to make the reader go outside of the book and try to find some answers about the character that they can't connect with. The main character in the book I am reading is a WWI veteran, and so with what I know about WWI, I can make inferences about why he is so impersonal and cold at times.
Kristen, I think that is the point of this story and why it is called A good man is hard to find. Good is in the eye of the beholder.
Drew, I think the Grandma changed the most in this story the children and parents seemed to continue to be disrespectful. To me it seemed like as the story progressed the Grandma became more mentally unstable.
I don't think a person can be labeled as soley good or evil. I think the way people see themselves can influence the way others see them. The Misfit saw himself as a bad person so others did too.
Ben: I believe the Misfit kills for one or both of two reasons. One is in order to feel control. He had no control of his fathers death and no control of his life in jail and what more control can one have than over life and death? The other is that those who kill are typically the most afraid of death it's self and in killing others they believe that they are becoming more assimitilated with their death as it is inevitable.
Alex, If I were put in that situation, I wouldn't have acted the same as the characters in the story did, but I think that's just part of the Gothic genre. For example, I wouldn't have acted the same way as the characters in The Lottery did, but who would? The Gothic literature genre is about taking a normal event, and making it uncanny. In all the stories, something strange or unusual occurs that no one would expect, and I think that's whay this genre is about.
Samis- So, then is it a sterotype that in gothic texts that there should be at least one insane person and a lack of emtions?
@ Drew - First of all, I don't think there is a fine line defining a good or bad person, because we all do good things and we all do bad things. Second I think the grandmother did not change because she seemed selfish until she was killed.
Paiges- However, if you were raised in a sitituation like the Lottery where you are used to this kind of lottery and you were raised to accept this; you might find it okay.
Drew- In response to your second question I dont think their is a line that seperates good from bad. We all have seperate beliefs about what is good and bad and I think everything is subject to individual intrepretation. This is why I dont think the author personally chose to "say" rather she had become good or not, he wanted the reader to decide and show how we all might decide differently.
Alex, I think that lack of emotion towards death could be counted as an archetype for Gothic Literature. Because usually people have great emotion when someone dies, it's uncanny that the people don't react.