A Good Man Is Hard to Find

by: Flannery O’Connor

Important Quotations Explained

2. “She would have been a good woman,” The Misfit said, “if it had been somebody there to shoot her every minute of her life.”

This quotation, at the end of the story, reveals the Misfit’s understanding of what has occurred in the grandmother’s final moments, and he seems to recognize two things about her. First, he fully understands that despite her obvious belief in her moral superiority—which she conveys through her self-proclaimed identification as a “lady” and religious instruction—the grandmother is not, in fact, a good woman. She is flawed and weak, and her age grants her no particular rights for respect or reverence. Second, the Misfit recognizes that when facing death, the grandmother has the capacity to be a good woman. In her final moments, she foregoes the moral high ground she’d staunchly held and instead embraces her and the Misfit’s common humanity. The Misfit observes this shift and seems to realize what it means: if the grandmother could have lived her life at gunpoint, so to speak, she could have gained the self-awareness and compassion that she’d lacked.