Grandma in O’Connor’s “A Good Man is Hard to Find”
“A Good Man is Hard to Find” tells the story of a family that wants to visit their relatives in the south. , a grandmother who wants to visit relatives in Tennessee goes on a trip. The grandmother’s image is central to the entire work since her decisions and way of thinking become the reasons for the tragic events that happen to the whole family at the end of the story.
From the very beginning of the story, the grandmother radiates positive emotions. She is happy to take the road trip with all her family. First, grandmother meets a stranger named Red Sam at a gas station. He complains that a reasonable person is not easy to find, and everyone strives for their benefit. The older woman believes that only goodness and dignity drive people to accomplish various situations and assures Sam that there is honesty everywhere in society (O’Connor, 1962, p. 6).
Her desire to see only the best parts of the individuals and the world around her becomes the cause of tragic events. She ignores the danger that is reported on the news. A gang of dangerous criminals is wielding the roads. However, even this does not stop her from avoiding unnecessary turns on the way. While driving on a country road, the car crashes and almost rolls over. After a while, bandits appear, and the whole family immediately learns that these are the reported earlier criminals led by a person called Misfit.
The episode with the bandits’ meeting is the most revealing in studying the grandmother’s character. The robbers start to take the old woman’s relatives into the forest methodically, and she hears them die. The cruel reprisal against innocent people is accompanied by the grandmother’s kind and still naive admonitions that the gang leader should pray to God. When it becomes evident to the reader that none of the family members have a chance to survive, the grandmother suddenly says: “You are my son. You are one of my children”, while touching Misfit’s hand (O’Connor, 1962, p. 11). Thanks to her character, attitude to life, and fear, the grandmother becomes the key and most interesting character in the story.
The main and most tenacious hero in the story is the grandmother, the mother of the head of the Bailey family. The author shows this heroine brightly and not always from the best side. Initially, this woman does not want to leave her home and gives the children instructions to love their small homeland and their parents. During the play, she lies, manipulates family members, and performs several actions without thinking about the possible consequences. Ironing and pitying the one who just now killed your children and grandchildren is not Christianity, as you wish, and O’Connor could not be moved by it.
To one degree or another, all the events that happened in the story took place with the participation of the grandmother. Making decisions and building her dialogues with others in a certain way led the family to a tragic death. It is indeed impossible to make this character the sole culprit for the end of the entire family. Nevertheless, the grandmother’s attitude towards criminals and their leader, Misfit, became defining her worldview. Looking at everyone through the prism of hope, faith, and kindness, the main hero and her relatives come to a terrible, painful end. The grandmother helplessly dissuades Misfit from killing relatives, and, seeing in the killer her son, she then meditates with him about Jesus Christ.
All the reverent thoughts, actions, and remarks of the grandmother led to her entire family’s death. She could not believe it until the very end, discouraging the killer. As a result, Misfit broke down and shot the grandmother as punishment for her.
O’Connor, F. (1962). A good man is hard to find. New English Library.