A Selfish Grandmother Figure in the Short Story A Good Man is Hard to Find Essay Example

Grandmothers most always are viewed as loving and selfless individuals; however, in the short story “A Good Man is Hard to Find," by Flannery O'Conner, the grandmother is far from both loving and selfless. The plot opens up to the family of six discussing a family trip to Florida. The family consists of Bailey the dad, the mother, June Star, John Wesley, and of course Bailey’s mother who lives with them, the grandmother. When the family discusses taking a family trip, the grandmother is unsure of going at first because of a misfit gang that has escaped from prison and is headed to Florida. The grandmother, however decides she will still go, even though she makes it known that she rather go to Tennessee or somewhere rich in their heritage. The grandmother convinces Bailey to take a different route when traveling, so the kids can see the old plantation. When taking the dirt road, the family wrecks, and is stranded on the road. A simple family trip makes a dramatic change for the worse, when the family encounters the misfits that come up on the wreck after watching them flip. The story ends with all six family members being shot and killed by the misfit gang. The grandmother tries to show she wants to avoid the misfit gang by proposing the idea of traveling to Tennessee instead, but then she ends up leading the family down the road of death. The grandmother uses her selfish, manipulative, and bigoted personality in order to get what she wants throughout the story.

From the very beginning of the story, O’Conner presents the reader with a abnormal grandmother figure, who has no problem with being very selfish, and does not seem to have any concern for others. She seems to only be concerned about her own well being. When the first couple family members are killed, the grandmother only seems to keep trying her best to do whatever it takes to convince the misfit gang not to shoot her, rather than trying to do what's best for everyone. However, when she hears the final shots, she knows she could be in trouble and starts to question the misfit on how good of a man he is. This causes the grandmother to make a statement to the misfit saying, "I know you wouldn't shoot a lady!" (O’Conner 529). The grandmother is only worried about herself at this very moment, and doesn’t even acknowledge the other deaths. She never once begged the Misfit to spare her family's lives, but begged him to spare her life instead. The grandmother shows her selfishness personality when it comes down to her own life being in danger, even though she manipulated most of the problem to begin with.

Secondly, O'Conner presents the grandmother not as evil, but as someone who does not mind bending the truth so much that it can hardly be considered the truth, if it can benefit her. The grandmother goes about getting her way in a subtle way, rather than just being upfront about it. Since Bailey would not budge on going to the plantation house, she thought was down the dirt road, she tried to gain the children’s interest by stating, "There was a secret panel in this house," she said craftily, not telling the truth, but wishing that she were, " and the story went that all the family silver was hidden in it when Sherman came through but it was never found..." (O’Conner 525). This caused an uproar in the children wanting to go see the plantation until the father finally gave in. The grandmother knew something exciting like the idea of a secret panel with a hidden treasure inside would make the children want to visit the plantation as well and she knew that they would not take no for an answer. The grandmother is caught using her manipulative strategies to have the children get her what she wants, even if it does cost her and the other family members their life.

Lastly, the grandmother shows her bigoted personality when acting more superior to everyone else. She views herself as a very prim and proper lady, even though she is not quite what she makes herself look to be. When discussing the trip at the beginning of the story, the grandmother makes it known that she disagrees with the idea of going to Florida, when she was talking to Bailey saying, “Just you read it. I wouldn’t take my children in any direction with a criminal like that aloose in it. I couldn’t answer to my conscience if I did.” (O’Conner 520). This particular quote really contains some humor in it with the final results of the story. This lady doesn’t agree with going some place where criminals are headed, but she takes the family to a place that criminals most likely could be. There is some hypocrisy that follows her superior ideas that she has over everyone else. The Grandmother also makes a comment to the children about how things were different in her time when she said, “In my time, children were more respectful of their native states and their parents and everything else. People did right then.” (O’Conner 522). This is another great example of how hypocrisy follows her bigoted comments to others in the family.

In conclusion, the grandmother does whatever it takes to get what she wants, even if it means using her selfish, manipulative, and bigoted actions. She is too selfish to be worried about what other people think of this as well. When it comes down to it, whether her life is in danger or not, she really only cares about what benefits her. She even uses manipulative ideas to try and have people take her side when people are disagreeing with her, even though most ideas she is bigoted about. With the kind of personality that the grandmother has, she is not like most ordinary selfless grandmas. The selfishness, manipulative, and bigoted actions that the grandmother presents us with, has people wondering that maybe it is a good grandmother is hard to find after all.


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