A good man is hard to find is a collection of short stories by Flannery O’Connor. It is the widely known of all Flannery O’Connor’s stories. The short story was published in nineteen fifty-three. The story features several characters among them the grandmother who is unnamed throughout the story. The woman seems pushy on matters she feels are good to her. She insists that the family should go to Tennessee for the holiday and not Florida as planned (O’Connor 12).
Grandmother repeats this to Bailey, her son several times. One of the reasons she points for preferring Tennessee to Florida is a story she quotes from the newspaper for her son to read. Though she loses this battle, her personality of believing that she has superior morals begins when she dresses in a way that will make her recognized as a lady if she dies. This is related to the story she gave to his son from the article when she was trying to convince him to take the family to Tennessee. Her actions throughout the story including her relations with other characters make her a controversial character in the entire story. This is seen in the last part when the story ends as she gets her moment of grace.
The analysis of Grandmother’s character shows that she has a special triumph over other characters. One thing that is very clear from the story is that the grandmother comes out as a character who dictates everything and everybody around her. This means that she is a manipulator. Cunningly, she insists that the family should go to Tennessee for the holiday and not Florida because she has relatives to visit in Tennessee but she uses other tricks without telling Bailey about them (O’Connor 53). The granny pulls a story from an article about a man who went to Florida but had a bad ending. After failing to convince the son to change his mind, she dresses in a way that will make her look like a lady but for bad reasons that are being seen as a lady if she dies. This is one way of expressing her dissatisfaction over the choice of Florida for the vacation.
The woman is always fast in making judgments over the decisions made by others. Granny scolds John Wesley for what she feels is a lack of respect for Georgia where she was born and brought up. She categorically points to Bailey that what comes from her conscience guides her actions. She insists that conscience drives her life in all perspectives and therefore, she cannot go for a holiday where Misfit went (O’Connor 67). That is why she sarcastically dresses like a lady so that people can see her like a lady if she dies. She believes that being a lady is the best of all virtues and it is only reserved for her. A lady to her means commanding respect from other people because she is good-looking. A grandmother is a schemer. She waits and takes any chance that could come her way to change her son’s mind over the choice of Florida.
To prove that she is a schemer, she is never controversial and avoids direct attacks if she is on a mission to win over others. In a witty way, she intends to prove to Bailey that criminal gangs are on the loose in Florida and goes ahead to give him an article with such stories (O’Connor 77). The old woman changes her strategy when Bailey seems not to be moved. She puts the children in perspective by trying to explain to him that going to Tennessee is in the interest of the children. She dresses down the children’s mother for refusing to let the children go on vacation to Tennessee where they would get a broad overview of the environment. Other incidences include hiding the cat in the bag against Bailey’s wishes and using the children to convince Bailey to allow them to visit the old plantation.
Granny’s moment of grace
The grandmother indeed gets her moment of grace towards the end of the story. In her interaction with the Misfit, grandmother seems to talk a lot about Jesus. It can, however, be argued that she is not very religious as she appears. This can be traced by analyzing the reasons that make her mention Jesus in their conversation (O’Connor 18). She only brings Jesus into her matters if the intention is for her benefit. If granny could be religious then, words from her conversation with the Misfit could be trusted. She tells the Misfit that being a respectable woman, she considers herself to be God, should be merciful to her.
She feels that if God would be merciful then He would not let some bad things happen on a good woman such as herself. She seems to scold at Jesus by the way she shouts His name. From the conversation, it could be passed that by letting occurrences run over her faith then she is not deeply religious (O’Connor 23). Her emotions supersede her first statement in her conversation with the Misfit that if one prays Jesus would help her. The contrast between granny’s faith and that held by the Misfit becomes clear when she yells at Jesus. Her religious faith can be summed to be shallow. Analytically, the grandmother gets grace. This is because she does not seem to be a very bad old woman. She is full of humor, sympathetic and flawed. When finally grandmother is transformed to become good, her moment of grace arrives.
Flannery O’Connor has captured the issues in his story in a way that flows smoothly from the start. The granny does not shy away from giving her opinion on issues. She is critical but does not get time to reflect on her actions. Sometimes she acts in hypocrisy, selfishly and with a lot of dishonesty. The story begins when she explains to Bailey that she is driven by conscience in everything she does. However, she does not evaluate whether what her conscience guides her to do is for the benefit of everybody or not. This is also captured when the Misfit kills the entire family. The grandmother does not beg him to spare the lives of her children but hers (O’Connor 33). That is the epitome of her selfishness. However, when she becomes good at the end, her moment of grace comes.
O’Connor, Flannery. A Good Man Is Hard to Find, and Other Stories. New York: Harcourt, Brace, 1955. Print.