A Good Man is Hard to Find

The Misfit Character Analysis

The Misfit remains largely a mystery throughout the story. The Grandmother first reads about him in the newspaper—he is an escaped convict and murderer, and is thought to be headed to Florida (like the family). When he comes across the family after their car accident, The Misfit seems to actually just want to get their car fixed and send them on their way. But when the Grandmother shouts out that she knows he is The Misfit, his plans change, and he has each member of the family killed. While the others are being shot, the Misfit carries on a largely philosophical conversation with The Grandmother. He explains that he doesn’t view actions in terms of right or wrong—if he does something that other people consider wrong, he gets punished, and that’s it. He acknowledges that praying to Jesus might save him, but he claims that he doesn’t need that kind of help. The Misfit’s attitude, in general, is apathetic toward any notion of morality—he simply does what he wills. When the Grandmother makes her final grand gesture, reaching out to The Misfit as if he were her son, he shoots and kills her. With the story’s final line, however, the Misfit chastises his henchman for taking pleasure in the killings, and we get the sense that something about the encounter might have changed him.

The Misfit Quotes in A Good Man is Hard to Find

The A Good Man is Hard to Find quotes below are all either spoken by The Misfit or refer to The Misfit. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Violence and Grace Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Farrar, Strauss and Giroux edition of A Good Man is Hard to Find published in 1971.
A Good Man is Hard to Find Quotes

The car continued to come on slowly, disappeared around a bend and appeared again, moving even slower, on the top of the hill they had gone over. It was a big black battered hearse-like automobile.

Related Characters: The Misfit
Related Symbols: The Misfit’s Car
Page Number: 125
Explanation and Analysis:

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His face was as familiar to her as if she had known him all her life but she could not recall who he was.

Related Characters: The Grandmother, The Misfit
Page Number: 126
Explanation and Analysis:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

“I know you’re a good man. You don’t look a bit like you have common blood. I know you must come from nice people!”

Related Characters: The Grandmother (speaker), The Misfit
Page Number: 127
Explanation and Analysis:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

“Nome, I ain’t a good man,” The Misfit said after a second as if he had considered her statement carefully, “but I ain’t the worst in the world neither. My daddy said I was a different breed from my brothers and sisters. ‘You know,’ Daddy said, ‘it’s some that can live their whole life out without asking about it and it’s other has to know why it is, and this boy is one of the latters. He’s going to be into everything!’”

Related Characters: The Misfit (speaker), The Grandmother
Page Number: 128
Explanation and Analysis:

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Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

“I was a gospel singer for a while,” The Misfit said. “I been most everything. Been in the arm service, both land and sea, at home and abroad, been twict married, been an undertaker, been with the railroads, plowed Mother Earth, been in a tornado, seen a man burnt alive oncet . . . I even seen a woman flogged.”

Related Characters: The Misfit (speaker), The Grandmother
Page Number: 129
Explanation and Analysis:

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“I never was a bad boy that I remember of,” The Misfit said in an almost dreamy voice, “but somewhere along the line I done something wrong and got sent to the penitentiary. I was buried alive.”

Related Characters: The Misfit (speaker), The Grandmother
Page Number: 130
Explanation and Analysis:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

“It was a head-doctor at the penitentiary said what I had done was kill my daddy but I known that for a lie. My daddy died in nineteen ought nineteen of the epidemic flu and I never had a thing to do with it.”

Related Characters: The Misfit (speaker), The Grandmother
Page Number: 130
Explanation and Analysis:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

“Well then, why don’t you pray?” she asked trembling with delight suddenly.

“I don’t want no hep,” he said. “I’m doing all right by myself.

Related Characters: The Grandmother (speaker), The Misfit (speaker)
Page Number: 130
Explanation and Analysis:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

“I call myself The Misfit,” he said, “because I can’t make what all I done wrong fit what all I gone through in punishment.”

Related Characters: The Misfit (speaker), The Grandmother
Page Number: 131
Explanation and Analysis:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

“Then it’s nothing for you to do but enjoy the few minutes you got left the best way you can—by killing somebody or burning down his house or doing some other meanness to him. No pleasure but meanness.”

Related Characters: The Misfit (speaker), The Grandmother
Page Number: 132
Explanation and Analysis:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

She saw the man’s face twisted closer to her own as if he were going to cry and she murmured, “Why you’re one of my babies. You’re one of my own children!” She reached out and touched him on the shoulder. The Misfit sprang back as if a snake had bitten him and shot her three times through the chest.

Related Characters: The Grandmother (speaker), The Misfit
Page Number: 132
Explanation and Analysis:

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

Related Characters: The Misfit (speaker), The Grandmother
Page Number: 133
Explanation and Analysis:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

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The Misfit Character Timeline in A Good Man is Hard to Find

The timeline below shows where the character The Misfit appears in A Good Man is Hard to Find. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
A Good Man is Hard to Find
Violence and Grace Theme Icon
Familial Conflict and Familial Love Theme Icon
...Bailey, whose house she lives in. The article tells of an escaped convict known as the Misfit , who has escaped federal prison and is believed to be headed toward Florida. The... (full context)
Familial Conflict and Familial Love Theme Icon
...be queen for a day.” The Grandmother asks her grandchildren what they would do if the Misfit caught them. John Wesley says he would “smack his face.” June Star repeats that the... (full context)
Violence and Grace Theme Icon
Goodness Theme Icon
Familial Conflict and Familial Love Theme Icon
Moral Decay Theme Icon
The Grandmother asks if Red Sam and his wife have read about the Misfit . Red Sam’s wife says that she wouldn’t be surprised if the Misfit attacked their... (full context)
Violence and Grace Theme Icon
Goodness Theme Icon
Punishment and Forgiveness Theme Icon
Familial Conflict and Familial Love Theme Icon
Moral Decay Theme Icon
As Bailey attempts to explain their situation, the Grandmother interrupts, shouting, “You’re the Misfit !” The man in glasses says that he is the Misfit, but that it would... (full context)
Goodness Theme Icon
Familial Conflict and Familial Love Theme Icon
Moral Decay Theme Icon
The Grandmother insists that she knows The Misfit is a “good man” and that she knows he comes from “nice people.” He agrees,... (full context)
Violence and Grace Theme Icon
Punishment and Forgiveness Theme Icon
Familial Conflict and Familial Love Theme Icon
The Misfit instructs Hiram and Bobby Lee to take Bailey and John Wesley over to the woods,... (full context)
Violence and Grace Theme Icon
Goodness Theme Icon
Punishment and Forgiveness Theme Icon
Familial Conflict and Familial Love Theme Icon
“I ain’t a good man,” the Misfit says, “but I ain’t the worst in the world neither.” He explains that he was... (full context)
Goodness Theme Icon
Punishment and Forgiveness Theme Icon
Moral Decay Theme Icon
The Misfit keeps talking about his parents, explaining that his father had a bit of an edge,... (full context)
Violence and Grace Theme Icon
Goodness Theme Icon
Punishment and Forgiveness Theme Icon
Familial Conflict and Familial Love Theme Icon
Moral Decay Theme Icon
Two pistol shots are heard from the woods. The Grandmother glances around, shouting “Bailey Boy!” The Misfit speaks, saying that he’s been a gospel singer, a member of the armed services, married... (full context)
Violence and Grace Theme Icon
Goodness Theme Icon
Punishment and Forgiveness Theme Icon
Familial Conflict and Familial Love Theme Icon
Moral Decay Theme Icon
The Misfit describes prison: on his right was a wall, on his left was a wall, above... (full context)
Violence and Grace Theme Icon
Goodness Theme Icon
Punishment and Forgiveness Theme Icon
Familial Conflict and Familial Love Theme Icon
Moral Decay Theme Icon
The Grandmother says that if he prayed, “Jesus would help you.” “That’s right,” the Misfit says. She asks why doesn’t he pray. “I don’t want no hep,” he says, “I’m... (full context)
Violence and Grace Theme Icon
Goodness Theme Icon
Punishment and Forgiveness Theme Icon
Moral Decay Theme Icon
The Grandmother is now alone with the Misfit . She wants to tell him to pray, but she only says “Jesus. Jesus.” The... (full context)
Violence and Grace Theme Icon
Punishment and Forgiveness Theme Icon
Moral Decay Theme Icon
There is a scream from the woods and another shot from a pistol. The Misfit asks if it seems fair to the Grandmother that one person can be punished so... (full context)
Violence and Grace Theme Icon
Goodness Theme Icon
Punishment and Forgiveness Theme Icon
Familial Conflict and Familial Love Theme Icon
Moral Decay Theme Icon
...out from the forest. The Grandmother raises her head and shouts “Bailey Boy!” once again. The Misfit states that only Jesus could raise the dead, and that his doing so was a... (full context)
Violence and Grace Theme Icon
Goodness Theme Icon
Punishment and Forgiveness Theme Icon
Familial Conflict and Familial Love Theme Icon
Moral Decay Theme Icon
The Misfit says that he wish he had been there, to know whether Jesus really had raised... (full context)
Violence and Grace Theme Icon
Goodness Theme Icon
Punishment and Forgiveness Theme Icon
Moral Decay Theme Icon
...Hiram return from the woods and look down at the Grandmother’s body in the ditch. The Misfit tells them to put her body with the others. Then he picks up the cat,... (full context)