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March 28, 2007

Desmond Gives Grandmother too Much Credit

Desmond, ''Flannery O'Connor's Misfit and the Mystery of Evil.'' -- Jerz: EL150 (Intro to Literary Study)

"O'Connor explains nothing of what happens in the grandmother's mind and heart to bring her to this touch of kinship with the criminal, except to say that 'her head cleared for an instant.' The gap is mysterious, perhaps supernatural, yet also exactly right in the human sense" (134).

Maybe it is just me, but I think the exact opposite about the grandmother's reaching out to touch the Misfit. Actually the whole last section is just bizarre. I would not have the urge to reach out and touch this armed murderer who just had my entire family killed, no matter how bad I might feel for him. And the expression about him being one of her children also doesn't really make sense to me. And saying "you're one of my babies" doesn't seems to equate him with the rest of humanity as far as I am concerned. To me that equates him directly with her - it seems more like a desperate attempt to make him spare her life, and that seems much more in character for the grandmother. Maybe I am not being very sympathetic here, but I really don't think that the grandmother has the potential to undergo a major recognition and reversal of her ways (as she has already proven to lie and do things to serve her own random whims). She doesn't seem to think there is anything wrong with it, and she doesn't do things that usually make sense in terms of natural human behavior either. So why would she start now that she is ina desperate, very atypical situation for most people? I do think Desmond makes a lot of really good points, but this particular one I don't agree with.

Posted by LorinSchumacher at March 28, 2007 12:42 AM


Can't it be both? I agree with both you and Desmond.
The Grandmother's reaction was most likely one final desperate cling to hope for her life - but through the eyes of the Misfit it was her action that equated him with the rest of humanity.
The entire process of the Misfit naming himself made association with anyone else a repulsive action - because it wasn't a link with one person - it was a link with an ideal, showing that the Misfit wasn't really misfit.
That link is what I think Desmond is arguing. I don't think that he was necessarily arguing that the Grandmother set up the link intentionally, just that the link is there.

Posted by: Diana Geleskie at March 28, 2007 6:22 AM

I don't know Diana. I suppose it could, maybe, be both, but that just isn't the reaction I had when I read it. But, I guess it would certainly be fair to say that it wasn't intentional, but I still have doubts about the whole idea because to me it just isn't how I would react. Of course, I wouldn’t do a lot of things the grandmother does. I just didn't feel Desmond’s argument for it was as strong as it needed to be to have me convinced.

Posted by: Lorin at April 3, 2007 10:36 PM

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