English / Flannery O'Connors &Quot;A Good Man Is Hard To Find&Quot;

Flannery O'Connors &Quot;A Good Man Is Hard To Find&Quot;

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Autor:  anton  03 December 2010
Tags:  Flannery,  Oconnors
Words: 1015   |   Pages: 5
Views: 488

Have you ever noticed how circumstances can change a person’s perspective on life? It is interesting how we tend to play a different role based on the situations we find ourselves in. Human beings are dynamic, ever changing, and we tend to show who we really are when we are under pressure. The protagonist in Flannery O’Connor’s A Good Man is Hard to Find is a dynamic character who changes from a selfish, anxious old maid to a graceful, accepting, motherly woman when a crisis occurs.

This grandmother is an obstinate and selfish old woman who makes it very clear what she wants and does not want. In this situation, she does not want to go to Florida. Florida does not interest her; she would rather go to Tennessee to see some old friends. “The children have been to Florida,” she whined, “You all ought to take them somewhere else for a change so they would see different parts of the world and be broad.” In an effort to get her own way, the grandmother uses manipulation; she uses the pretext that the children should see other places besides Florida. Taking every opportunity to change Bailey’s mind the grandmother comments “I wouldn’t take my children in any direction with a criminal like that aloose in it”. The grandmothers attempt to use guilt as a means to persuade Bailey to change his mind does not work so she gives up and joins the family on their trip to Florida.

After trying to convince her family not to go to Florida, the grandmother seems to be the most anxious to leave. On the morning they are to leave she is the first person in the car because she is afraid to be left at home. June Star says of her grandmother: “She wouldn’t stay home for a million bucks. Afraid she’d miss something. She has to go everywhere we go.” Being left out or alone is the grandmother’s fear. To make sure that her family notices her, the grandmother talks incessantly during the trip. She is afraid that if she is silent or not completely involved her family would forget her and she would cease to exist in their lives.

Her selfishness takes the family out of their way to see an old house she remembered. To convince Bailey to take the detour, the grandmother lies about a “secret panel” in the house. This story excites the children and they beg their father to take them, which is exactly what the grandmother wants. Saying, “It would be very educational for them,” gives the idea that the grandmother only wants to go because she thinks it will be good for the children. Her self-centered nature endangers her family because it is on the road to the house from her childhood where they have an accident and encounter The Misfit and his companions.

She pleads with The Misfit to spare her life, telling him that she believes he is a good man, even offering him money. “I know you’re a good man. You don’t look a bit like you have common blood. I know you must come from nice people!” the grandmother says, as a means of pleading for her life and the lives of her family. The implication is that if he is from a nice family then he must have been raised well and be a good person; the grandmother is hoping this will appeal to the human desire to be affirmed. Incidentally, the grandmother is the only one actively trying to save the lives of her family. Herein lies a strong contrast between the grandmother and Bailey: the grandmother pleads and begs for everyone to be spared, but in the face of danger, Bailey becomes frightened and unable to offer any assistance.

As a last resort she turns to religion, a sharp contrast to the rest of the story where she seems to always be in control. “If you would pray, Jesus would help you,” she says. The Misfit seems to know a lot about Jesus, but he needs to see in order to believe. When he confesses this, the grandmother becomes unselfish and reaches out to him and says “Why, you’re one of my babies. You’re one of my own children!” Recognizing The Misfit as her own is the necessary step the grandmother takes toward becoming a “good woman”. This is the point where she attains grace through the most unlikely source, a criminal.

“She would have been a good woman, if it had been somebody there to shoot her every minute of her life.” This statement, made by The Misfit after killing the grandmother shows the transformation in her life. He realizes that she has good intentions, but that it takes pressure for her to be a good woman. When her life was threatened, she behaved much better than when she was free to do what she pleased. The change in her character is evident, especially to the man who killed her. The grandmother acts as most of us would in this situation. After everything else fails, we turn to religion. So often it is under pressure that we see a need for grace and a Savior. Acting as we please when everything is going our way is easy, but when a tough situation arises our ultimate actions are guided by a connection to some sort of deity.

We feel superior to the grandmother in the beginning because of her overwhelming characteristics. She is manipulative and causes the death of her family because of her selfishness. By the end of the story we find ourselves desiring to have the same sort of acceptance for the undesirable people in our lives that she has for The Misfit. The inevitability of her death having been accepted, the grandmother took a chance that her life might have an impact on someone else. This is the vital factor in the narrative; the moment where good triumphs over selfish actions. More than most people, the grandmother recognizes that grace is for everyone, even the loathsome.

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