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The Grandmother in A Good Man Is Hard to Find: Character Analysis

Mary Flannery O’Connor authored the short essay “A Good Man Is Hard To Find” in a style and manner that is not often seen in women writers. She chose to deal with the real-life issues of parent-child relationships and violent murders. Certainly not a genre that women authors are known for and yet a genre within which the author seemed to thrive imaginatively and symbolically. By telling the story in a 3rd personal manner, she manages to concentrate on telling the story through the eyes of only one main character. That of the grandmother.

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We first recognize that the grandmother in the story is a neglected member of the family. Most often seen as a bane by her son and ridiculed by her grandchildren due to her age and different beliefs about life, religion, and everything else under the sun. Fully dependent on her son for almost everything in her life, she is viewed by the family as nothing more than excess baggage that they wish they did not have to deal with. For me, the treatment she received from her family depicts the way some of the elderly are treated in these modern times. Ignored and not valued, they often crave attention like a bratty child when all they really want is to feel a little love, care, and affection from those around them. To feel like a part of a family and not like an irritable thorn in the side of her son and his family.

The grandmother, being from the south and highly religious tends to be very trusting of the people around her. Chalk it up to an obviously religious upbringing but, she believes that there is well hidden away in everyone around her. No matter how evil they seem to be in reality. So, I was surprised to realize that she also used her religious beliefs mostly for selfish reasons as later depicted in the story. She was actually the driving force of evil within an innocent family that should not have had such an unexpected demise.

It is during this fateful trip that she learns the lesson about how not all men are “good” and not all men are “bad” either. There is also a lesson to be learned from her experience. That religion and belief in God are not things that you pull out of a hat during a time when it is most convenient for you. And not everybody is a religious fanatic who believes that prayer can change a darkened soul. Unfortunately, this would turn out to be a lesson learned too late. I found it highly disturbing to realize that all of the evil acts that unfolded within the story were all brought about by a selfish whim of the grandmother who came along on the trip against her will and did everything within her power to get her way. A way that eventually led down the road to a horrific culmination. By taking the detour on the dirt road, she alters the life of the family and all the while believes that religion and prayers can alter an unalterable end.

Progressing in my reading of the story, I begin to question the honesty of the grandmother in forcing her will upon her son’s family, even if she has to lie to get her way. Her son tries to humor her when she gets his children to believe in a trumped-up story about a plantation that does not exist. Without realizing it, his mother had set up their death road and he had, in a manner, signed the order of execution upon all of them by allowing himself to be waylaid from his original decision. Indeed, the grandmother is to blame for the massacre of the family because she refused to admit her error the minute she realized it simply because she finally got her way. I believe that, had the mother taken the advice of her grandchildren and had she simply stayed home since she did not want to go on the trip anyway, the family would still be alive.

However, I also believe that everything that happened to them happened for a reason. For it is often said that death comes like a thief in the night. Never giving warning, never allowing one to escape. The Grim reaper shall get the soul on his list in any manner he can. In this case, maybe they were all destined to die together.

The killer in the story, a man they call The Misfit, is the person whom I believe signifies a return to God by the family whose virtues had been overridden by the niceties of life and ill regard for their past traditions and cultures that existed in their early lives. In effect, each person in the family needed to recognize the importance of religion and prayer in their lives once again. They were not exactly sinners who needed saving in my opinion, but in the opinion of the writer, they all apparently needed their souls to be saved for one reason or another.

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The Misfit, therefore, serves the family by forcing them to realize their humanity and return to their belief in God before it is too late for them. This can be understood as the grandmother encourages everyone, including misfits to “Pray.” Unfortunately, The Misfit, filled with religious confusion and misunderstanding of the word of God, having grown up in the bible belt, has become logically confused and therefore believes that by killing these people, whom he had been observing earlier on, he will have done the will of God that began with the overturning of the car during the accident.

In the end, The Misfit makes a statement that leads me to believe that he is not all evil. He never took pleasure in killing people. He just did it because, in his confused mind, he believed that he was being their savior by helping them unto the direct path to God.

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StudyCorgi. "The Grandmother in A Good Man Is Hard to Find: Character Analysis." November 7, 2021. https://studycorgi.com/the-grandmother-in-a-good-man-is-hard-to-find-character-analysis/.

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StudyCorgi. 2021. "The Grandmother in A Good Man Is Hard to Find: Character Analysis." November 7, 2021. https://studycorgi.com/the-grandmother-in-a-good-man-is-hard-to-find-character-analysis/.

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StudyCorgi. (2021) 'The Grandmother in A Good Man Is Hard to Find: Character Analysis'. 7 November.

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