1. “I found out the crime don’t matter. You can do one thing or you can do another, kill a man or take a tire off his car, because sooner or later you’re going to forget what it was you done and just be punished for it.”
The Misfit speaks these words near the end of the story, just before sending the children’s mother, the baby, and June Star into the woods to be shot. The Misfit has told the grandmother that he had been punished for a crime that he can’t remember, and this is the lesson he has taken away from it. According to the Misfit’s theory, no matter what the crime, large or small, the punishment will be the same—even if one never remembers what one did. This idea of being punished for an unremembered crime alludes to the Christian belief in original sin. According to Christian theology, all human beings are born sinners for which they will be eternally punished. Only through God’s grace can these people be saved. In this sense, humans “forget” their crime, yet are punished nonetheless, just as the Misfit suggests. The grandmother has her moment of grace when she recognizes the Misfit as one of her “own children,” recognizing how similar she is to the Misfit for the first time. She isn’t morally superior, as she has always believed. Instead, both are struggling in their own ways to come to terms with the difficult, often ambiguous tenets of the Christian faith.