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Amit Luthra


Research Essay

​You may kiss the pride, but soon you’ll be dead

This short story by Flannery O’Connor mostly highlights the discussion between

two important characters, the Grandmother and The Misfit, at the end of the

story, which is a moment of redemption for both these characters. The

Grandmother is portrayed as a selfish and a dishonest lady throughout the story.

She sneaks in her cat even after her son Bailey asks her not to bring the animal

along and the cat is the cause of the accident that ultimately leads to the death of

all the family members. She doesn’t care or show any concern when her children

and grandchildren are being killed by The Misfit but begs him to spare her life.

The Grandmother judges the lack of goodness in people but thinks that she is

superior to others herself. She comments on seeing a black kid that he doesn’t

have the things her family has and compares the face of her daughter in law to a

cabbage which shows her hypocrisy. But in the end when she is about to be

killed by The Misfit, realization dawns on her and she develops compassion for

him even though he is a murderer. She calls The Misfit as one of her own

children and expects some grace from God for her misdeeds just before she dies.
The character of The Misfit is a very strong one. He continuously questions the

meaning of life and his role in it, while examining his experiences to find lessons.

He feels he has been wronged by God in life and thus does the meanest things to

others. But when the Grandmother calls him as one of his own and touches him

on his shoulder, he kills her but admits that he doesn’t enjoy it anymore. He also

achieves some level of grace in the end.

There are a lot of hidden and visible references to Christianity made by O’Connor in

this story. Bailey disrespects his mother and doesn’t really listen to or answers her.

He even curses her at one point in the story, which embarrasses the Misfit, a

hardened criminal, too. Bailey’s kids are no less and they insult the Grandmother and

hardly display any compassion. June demonstrates her love of material things, is

delighted when the family meets with an accident and is actually disappointed at no

one getting killed in that accident. The whole family is on the path to sin and that is

probably what the author meant when she described the family taking a turn on the

dirt road. There is also a mention of a town named Toomsboro and five or six graves

the Grandmother spots on their way to Florida, which might be an indicator of the

impending deaths of the entire family.

The family makes a stop at Red Sammy Butt's barbecue stand to take some rest and

learn in passing how several days earlier, Butt's was ripped off by three men who

filled their car with gas and took off without paying. Red Sammy and the
Grandmother then talk about the lack of good people in the world. The Grandmother

being judgemental is ironic considering the fact that she lies and deceives her family

to get her way too. The kids see a gray monkey on a tree there. The monkey has

frequently been used in the Christian art to symbolize sin, malice, cunning and lust, all

the qualities portrayed by the family in this story.

The Grandmother also lies to get her way in the story. She wanted to see an old house

and knew she couldn’t convince her son Bailey to do that. So she lies about a secret

panel in the house to get the children all excited and they in turn convince Bailey to

go visit that house. When Bailey is on his way there, she remembers that the house is

actually in Tennessee and not in Georgia, where they were at that time. But to avoid

Bailey’s and everyone else’s anger she keeps this piece of information hidden from

everyone. This is when the hidden cat jumps out onto Bailey’s neck leading to their

accident and ultimately their deaths. The Grandmother’s lies and deceit lead the

whole family to disaster. The vehicle in which The Misfit and his two partners arrive

at the site of the accident is described as a big black hearse like automobile, which

clearly shows that the family’s fate is doomed.

When the Misfit and his partners start killing the family members one by one, the

Grandmother is shown to have ignored the whole situation. Instead of begging for her

children’s and grandchildren’s lives, she chooses to ignore their killings and begs the

Misfit for mercy for her. The Grandmother uses her religion and Jesus to escape from
her death but is unsuccessful. She implores the Misfit to pray and to turn to religion

and Christ. She even tries to convince the Misfit to take money and spare the life of a

lady like her. The self-centeredness of the Grandmother, leads her to her death too

but not before she realizes her follies. She tries reaching out to the Misfit and show

him some love by calling him one of her own children, just before the Misfit shoots


The Grandmother and the Misfit have a very meaningful conversation in the end,

which leads them to show some grace and become better persons by the end of the

story. The description of the Grandmother after her death refers to her achieving

salvation. O’Connor describes her as half sitting and half lying in a puddle of blood

with her legs crossed under her like a child's and her face smiling up at the cloudless

sky after she was shot by The Misfit thrice through the chest. The number three also

has a biblical significance as it represents the number of days Christ lay in the tomb

before the Resurrection. It also represents the holy trinity. The Grandmother

probably finds her salvation through death. The Misfit also achieves salvation when

he says it is not any fun to kill anymore. His lines that “She would have been a good

woman...if it had been somebody there to shoot her every minute of her life”, displays

that he considered the Grandmother to be a good lady by the end of their

conversation about God and humanity. Religion is not a one-time thing and God or

Christ should be remembered daily to avoid any selfish and deceitful acts is what the

Misfit means by that sentence. The Misfit is represented as both Christ and an anti-
Christ figure in the story. The Grandmother realizes that she and people like her

created the Misfit and will have to now bear the repercussions of it. She knew her end

was near and she tries reaching out to the Misfit at the end.
Works Cited:

Bandy, Stephen C. “`One Of My Babies': The Misfit And The Grandmother.” Studies In

ShortFiction 33.1 (1996): 107

Desmond, John. “Flannery O’conner’s Misfit And The Mystery Of Evil.” Renascence



Yao, Tianyuan Ben. “A Test of Faith: Analysis on ‘A Good Man Is Hard to Find.’’: 10 13.