Evil Vs. Good Battle: The Grandmother From A Good Man Is Hard To Find And Connie From Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been

In “A Good Man is Hard to Find” by Flannery O’Connor and “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been” by Joyce Carol Oats their main protagonists are in constant battle with good versus evil and later realize that bad things can happen to good people.

In the beginning of “A Good Man is Hard to Find” the grandmother insists that Bailey and their family go to Tennessee instead of going to Florida for their vacation. The grandmother had recently read an article stating that a convict called The Misfit had escaped and was going to Florida. But nobody agreed with the grandmother and ended up going to Florida anyway. As the family is passing through Georgia they stop at a restaurant that was called the Tower and it was owned by Red Sammy Butts. His wife has trust issues because Red let two men get gas using credit. As their conversation proceeds she then asks his wife if she has heard about The Misfit because she was worried that he might try and rob Red. It’s then that Red says to the grandmother, “A good man is hard to find”.

While they were in the car the grandmother looks out the window and sees that the plantation she had been to before was close. The kids get eager to go see the house she mentioned at the end of a tree lined driveway. As they’re driving deeper and deeper into the woods towards the house the grandmother started to realize that the house she’s referring to is in Tennessee instead of in Georgia. The cat, Pitty Sing, frightens Bailey and causes him to crash and in the process of the crash the wife broke her shoulder. Soon after the wreck a car pulls up and in the car three men get out with guns. The grandmother then recognizes that one of the three men is the escaped convict named The Misfit. She then asks if he would kill a lady and he says that he wouldn’t like to meaning if he needed or wanted to he would.

In order to make The Misfit reconsider him killing her she repeatedly tells him that he is a good man but he pays no attention. He then tells Hiram and Bobby Lee to take Bailey and John into the woods so they can shoot them. As this is happening The Misfit is telling the grandmother that he is evil but there are more evil people than him out there. The grandmother then asks him if he ever prays and while he is answering her question she hears two gunshots. They continue talking after the gunshots and he tells her that when he was a little boy he wasn’t bad until he went to prison for a crime that didn’t remember he did. When the two men come out from the woods they were carrying Bailey’s shirt and the grandmother did not notice who’s shirt it belonged to. The Misfit then tells the men to take the baby and June as well as the mother into the woods to be killed also.

The Misfit said he was like Jesus but did not believe everything Jesus did was true. He believes that if it was true then everyone should be following him as well. It is then that The Misfit shoots the grandmother in the chest three times but before he shot her she said that he was “one of my own children” (Bandy). The Misfit then states that if the grandmother was a good woman then she would get shot every single day of her life because he thinks that life has no pleasure.

In “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been” by Joyce Carol Oats, Connie would go out with her friends to go meet boys. The one night they go out she ditches her friends at the restaurant to go with Eddie. They go on a walk and Connie notices a gold convertible driving by and the man in the car shouted out “Gonna get you baby”. They continue to walk in an alley while Eddie pretends like he saw nothing.

Connie would spend her summers always avoiding her mother because she didn’t want to be bombarded with questions involving her life. Her mother and sister left her at home by herself and soon hears a car outside only to discover that it’s the gold convertible from the night she was with Eddie. When she goes to see who it is she realizes that it’s the same guy she saw from that night. She was afraid. The man introduces himself as Arnold Friend and says that the person in the passenger side is his friend named Ellie. It is then that he asks Connie to get in the car but she quickly says that she has things to do. For someone that she doesn’t know she realizes that he oddly knows a significant amount about her. He knows where her parents are, he knows the names of her friends and demands that she go with him.

Connie is now even more terrified and tells him to leave but instead tells her that they are lovers and will give in to him eventually. She then turns away from his door and threatens to call the police if he doesn’t leave. He claims that he will not follow her back to house unless she picks up the phone and calls the cops. She tries shutting and locking the door but is not able to due to her being so scared to the point to where she is shaking. Arnold keeps insisting that he wants her ever since he saw her from that night. He then goes on to tell her that if she doesn’t come out he’ll do terrible things to her family when they get home. Connie dashes to dial the police but isn’t able to because Arnold is “stabbing her… again and again with no tenderness”. It’s after everything has happened that she puts the phone down and willingly goes with him.

The two stories have a common theme. They both deal with a person who is good and that good person having evil things happen to them. Both stories tell that not only do bad things happen to bad people but can also happen to people who are good. It’s just a matter of being in the wrong place at the wrong time situation. Both authors wanted to give the readers a sense of it does not matter if you are good or bad anything can happen to anybody.

In “A Good Man is Hard to Find” the author writes about how The Misfit probably would not have been as cold hearted and evil as he is if it had not been for him going to prison for something he had not done. While he is talking to the grandmother he blames that moment for the reason why he is the way he is. He explains to her that when he was a little boy he was not always so messed up. From what is being said by the author The Misfit has basically lost hope that there is good and that he could be good as well. As he says in the story,

“I was never a bad boy that I remember of,” The Misfit said in an almost dreamy voice, “but somewheres along the line I done something wrong and got sent to the penitentiary. I was buried alive,” and he looked up and held her attention to him by a steady stare.

The Misfit tells the grandmother that he would sit and think and try to remember what crime he still thinks he did not do and never recalls what had happened during it. He does not remember what he did. The grandmother tries to persuade him to think of a life where he did not have to run from anyone but he replies that there will always be someone after you no matter what the situation is. At one point when the grandmother told him that he did not have to do this he said that would not want to but ends up killing her family and saving her for last.

In “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?” Oats writes about how Connie encounters evil by mistake. This too was also a matter of wrong time wrong place. She first sees Arnold Friend on the night she left her friends at the restaurant to go with Eddie. While they were walking in the alley she first sees Arnold driving by them in his gold convertible. She then notices him again this time outside her house while she was home alone. The whole time this man is trying to get her to go with him in his car claiming that they are lovers and how he wants her. Connie repeatedly tells him that she will not go anywhere with him. In the story Arnold says,

“Yes, I’m your lover. You don’t know what that is but you will,” he said. “I know that too. I know all about you. But look: it’s real nice and you couldn’t ask for nobody better than me, or more polite. I always keep my word. I’ll tell you how it is, I’m always nice at first, the first time. I’ll hold you so tight you won’t think you have to try to get away or pretend anything because you’ll know you can’t. And I’ll come inside you where it’s all secret and you’ll give in to me and you’ll love me”.

Arnold, in his sick twisted mind, wants to have her and her to have him. It sounds like the author is trying to make look like the stalker who is obsessed with their target and it was sadly her. She was at the wrong place at the wrong time and something bad happened to her. She became the target in someone's fascination. He is set on trying to persuade Connie into going with him wherever he chooses to go.

In conclusion the main theme coursing through both stories is how evil can still happen to people who are good. Bad things will happen to anybody, even if they are good or evil. Bad things do not care about where it happens or when it happens and nobody ever has control over the outcome. The grandmother and Connie did not know what was going to go down with their evil encounters, they both got in a terrible situation. They both feared for their life and they both tried to do something about the situation and try to get out of it the best they could. But also some people can start off as good and events that happen to them might lead them in a direction of darkness or so to say. They have so much pain from the bad event that they do not want to be put in that position ever again so they build up a wall and decide not to feel that way again. As for the wrong place wrong time, it happens to almost everyone. No one knows when something bad is about to happen to them. Connie sure did not think that she would get a stalker on her night out with Eddie. But it ended up happening to her anyway. The grandmother did not know while she was on a family vacation that The Misfit would be there coincidently after the car crash. Both authors included in their stories what happens to good people if in the wrong place and what happens when someone can become evil based on past complications. Nobody wants bad things to happen to them, it just happens. Therefore they both tell a story of good versus evil.

Works Cited

  1. McDermott, John V. 'Flannery O'Connor's validation of the unreasonable in 'A Good Man Is Hard To Find'.' Notes on Contemporary Literature, vol. 40, no. 1, 2010. Literature Resource Center,http://link.galegroup.com.tjc.idm.oclc.org/apps/doc/A231714517/LitRC?u=txshracd2586&sid=LitRC&xid=8b45943e. Accessed 31 July 2019.
  2. Oats, Joyce. “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been”. Page 185. 1966.
  3. O’Connor, Flannery. “A Good Man is Hard to Find”. Page 201. 1953.
  4. Desmond, John. “Flannery O’Connor’s Misfit and the Mystery of Evil.” Renascence, vol. 56, no. 2, Winter 2004, pp. 129-137. EBSCOhost, search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=truedb=a9h&AN=11859777&site=ehost-live.
  5. Bandy, Stephen C. “One of My Babies’: The Misfit and the Grandmother.” Studies in Short Fiction, vol. 33, no. 1, Winter 1996, p. 107. EBSCOhost, search. ebschost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=a9h&AN=970715305&site=ehost-live.
  6. Gillis, Christina Marsden. “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?”. Seduction, Space, and a Fictional Mode.” Studies in Short Fiction, vol. 18, no. 1, Winter 1981, p. 65. EBSCOhost, search.ebschost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=a9h&AN=864845
09 March 2021
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