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Word Count: 481
To interpret or not to interpret A Good Man is Hard to Find on a religious level is the question for this story It has often confounded college students because they were told in the past that the Misfit can be seen as a Christ-figure However even if some clever parallels can be established such a symbolic reading is far from Flannery OConnors intentions and thus raises the issue of authorial intentionalityIt is a perfect story for a discussion about the methodology of reading What are the boundaries of interpretation Does the reader have to read a story in accordance with the authors intentions It may be helpful to keep these questions in mind as we examine some key sections of the text itself The Misfit is a criminal who has lost his faith in God and immortality and who has turned to a life of crime Even so like a Dostoyevsky character he wrestles with the question of faith and admits that his behavior would have been different had he had proof that Jesus rose from the dead The heart of the problem for him is evidence With solid data to validate the resurrection he would have turned to God Without this proof however he claims he had no alternative but to be a nihilist-- to live a life of crime and meanness without pleasure The Grandmother on the other hand exercises faith in Christianity in an unthinking conventional manner whereby she utters all the platitudes about belief without any corresponding anguish in her heartconsequently her faith remains unexamined and untested OConnor uses her status quo belief as an ironic contrast for the Mistfits nihilism He may be the criminal but his effort to understand the message of salvation is heartfelt whereas the grandmothers is a conformist knee-jerk response But as a result of her encounter with the Misfit she seems to open up to a genuine dimension of faith The violence of
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