The short story, A Good Man Is Hard to Find by Flannery O’Connor, is a polarizing one as it makes the reader contemplate the good and evil in the world, relationships with relatives, and other social issues. The book was published in 1955 and mixed caustic comedy, religious fervor, and violence. The grandmother, a major character in the short story, has the charm of a pitiable victim of circumstances that are beyond her control. The selfish and ignorant nature of the grandmother leads to misfortunes in the family. The traits, ultimately, cause the demise of all members. The grandmother’s character has qualities that ought to be meticulously analyzed as a way of exploring and investigating her precise role in the story.
The grandmother is the central character in the story, which is set in a rural environment in the Southern part of the US, Georgia. It is in this location that the grandmother tells Wesley about the need to respect people who are from the native side. Her family desires to go on vacation to Florida. Conversely, the grandmother has a conflicting view since she claims that, in the state, there is a convict who had escaped prison. According to the story, “she couldn’t answer her conscience if she took the children in a direction where there was a convict on the loose” (O’Connor, 2016). According to Akbar & Khadim (2017), this point shows her selfish nature as she only cares about her happiness without considering other person feelings and wishes. She pretends to be interested in what is best for the family before going on vacation. Unfortunately, her main concern is her happiness and fulfilling her curiosities and wishes (Zhao, 2017). The family is not convinced and wants her to remain at home, but she opposes the arrangements. The family is not convinced; instead, they insist that she should stay home. They know that she does not want to be left behind.
From the commencement of the story, the grandmother is at odds with the family members. According to Zhao (2017), in most family cases, grandmothers are considered to be very loving; in her case, she seems to be very obstinate. She also appears to be very vain by elaborately dressing for the trip (O’Connor, 2016). Her opposition to the tour does not augur well with her grandchildren. This is quite contradictory to the role of a grandmother in most family setups. As the main protagonist, she appears to be pretentious, sensitive, manipulative, and self-serving.
Despite her behavior, she is still the main character, and the author comprehensively dwells on her practice. She remarkable contributes to the theme of the story from the start to the end. She is finally shot after an ex-convict kills everyone. She portrays selfishness as she is seen, forcing her family members to visit the Old Mansion located near Toombsboro (O’Connor, 2016). The decision leads to her family being involved in an accident after taking a U-turn on the road heading to a plantation. Her character is also evident where she audaciously lies to all her family members despite knowing the truth in the attempt to get them to agree with her ideas. The lies include deceiving them that she had hidden silvers and secret panels.
Nevertheless, despite her evil character, the grandmother has several positive aspects, as depicted by the story. According to Carothers (2019), she is very knowledgeable, where she is conversant with most happenings in the city and is aware of the story of the convict who is on the run. She is also well-informed about various towns and roads, which could be as a result of her old age and experiences (Zhao, 2017). The grandmother is also an intelligent go-getter who can get whatever she wants, even though, in most cases, she tends to be self-centered without caring about her family members. She manages to convince her family members to for on vacation with her. They are left with no choice after she dresses well early enough. Carothers (2019), states that the grandmother convinces them about the roads to use and her false hidden treasures which cost them their lives at the end of the story. This shows that despite her harmful elements portrayed by the author, grandmother also has some positivity. However, she uses this to her advantage, intending to harm others.
Her naivety can be depicted through her actions. She brings her cat along in the car despite her son’s wishes (O’Connor, 2016). The entire family is dressed casually. She decides to defy them by wearing fancy clothes, including a fancy hat. She uses the cap for her to be noticed as a noble lady in the event she got in an accident. Through such actions, she proves that she cares about how people perceive her instead of focusing on how she treats others. She is also detrimental in that she anticipates an accident, yet she was with her family, ready to go for a vacation. When speaking to Red Sam, she talks about the past and how things used to be better and straightforward (O’Connor, 2016). However, in the event she is faced with death through the Misfit, she is not prepared to face her mortality. She does not believe that the Misfit can be as moral as he appears to be as he insists that he must be good at heart. According to Akbar & Khadim (2017), despite her knowing that the family members have been killed, she continues to reveal her selfish nature as her only aim is to save herself. She does not, at any given point, realize that these are her last seconds until she desperately begs the Misfit to spare her by claiming that he was her son.
There are flaws in the characters of the story, especially as per the grandmother’s traits. The Misfit does not care about anyone. This is the opposite of what the lady expects (O’Connor, 2016). From the role of the grandmother, it is apparent that she is round. She continually has different personalities, though, in most events, she tends to have negative characteristics of loving herself, and failing to care about others. Additionally, she is dynamic since her story has many different personalities, wherein separate cases, she tends to behave differently. She is also a protagonist in that she is the main character, and her story is told in specific perspectives.
The grandmother is very deceiving, egocentric, and lives in the past. From her behaviors, it is evident that she does not value her life as it is, and seems to look for something to fulfill her life (Akbar & Khadim, 2017). However, instead of admitting this, she goes ahead to glorify her past, where she viewed her life through rose-colored glasses. The author presents her as a lady who dresses to impress and attract all attention to herself (Carothers, 2019). She does whatever she can, and shoes do not, at any point, let anyone stand on her way. Her manipulation tendencies can be blamed for all the woes that the family went through, an aspect which leads to their death.
The selfish and ignorant nature of the grandmother in the story led to the misfortunes of the family and, ultimately, the demise of all members. She manipulates everyone, including the children, since she can easily persuade them. This is the creation of a mysterious story, which she is not sure about. She stresses cunningly about the secret location knowing that it was a lie. In most of the events narrated, the lady has a way of stretching the truth as much as possible, by lying to both her family and herself. She, however, is a go-getter and knowledgeable about information. Nevertheless, her evil and selfish character, in the end, lead to the demise of each member of the family.
Akbar, N. A., & Khadim, R. J. (2017). Irony in The Cask of Amontillado by Edgar Allan Poe and “A Good Man is Hard to Find by Mary Flannery O’Connor. Basic Education College Magazine For Educational and Humanities Sciences, (. 33), 567-578.
Carothers, T. (2019). A Good Democracy Is Hard to Find: Why Progress Takes So Long and Falls Apart So Easily. Foreign Aff. 98, 170.
Gartner, W. B. (2019). A good man is hard to find: project management, entrepreneurship and serendipity. International Journal of Managing Projects in Business.
O’Connor, F. (2016). A good man is hard to find. . Faber & Faber.
Zhao, Y. (2017). The Absurd Theme in “A Good Man is Hard to Find”.