They are misfits, wanderers, and souls searching for faith and absolution. Many of them are, to one extent or another, hypocrites; others are almost unbelievably naïve. All of them are Southerners – and yet, even the most outlandish among Flannery O'Connor's protagonists come across as entirely believable, complex characters whom, regardless of location, you might expect to come across in your own travels, too; and there is no telling how such an encounter would turn out.
Of course, you would hope it does not prove quite as disastrous as the title story's chance meeting of a family taking a wrong turn (on the road as much as figuratively) and the self-proclaimed Misfit haunting that particular area of Georgia; which culminates in a bizarre conversation, the failure of communication underneath which only adds to the reader's growing feeling of helplessness in view of impending doom. And such a sense of irreversible destiny pervades many a story in this collection; yet, while as in O'Connor's writing in general, her and her protagonists' Catholic faith plays a dominant role in the course of the events, that course is not so much brought about by the hand of God as by the characters' own acts, decisions, judgments and prejudices.
"Mrs. Hopewell had no bad qualities of her own but she was able to use other people's in such a constructive way that she never felt the lack."