Flannery O Connor’s “A Good Man Is Hard to Find” is a tale of manipulation, rebirth, and grace. The story opens with an unnamed grandmother pleading her son to take the family on a vacation to Tennessee, instead of the already agreed upon, Florida. The grandmother attempts to manipulate the son, as if she were concerned for the safety of the family, by telling him news of a just escaped murderer from jail in Florida, however the family continues upon the trip Florida, with the grandmother attempting to manipulate and deceive them the entire time. The vacation results in the death of the family, but also in the salvation of two unlikely souls. Utilizing the literary element of characterization O’ Connor illustrates the effect of divine grace on unlikely recipients.
The grandmother’s many attempts to dissuade the family from vacationing in Florida and other such events epitomize her manipulative tendencies. To manipulate means to manage or influence skillfully, especially in an unfair manner. Flannery O’ Connor illustrates the grandmother’s urge to manipulate when she attempts to persuade Bailey, “her only son”, into changing the family vacation’s from Florida to Tennessee.(378) She tries to strike fear in him by telling him “Here this fellow that calls himself the Misfit is aloose from the Federal Pen and headed toward Florida and you read here what it says he did to these people.”(378). The grandmother does not actually believe that the family will run into the Misfit, but due to her selfish want to go to Tennessee instead of Florida, she tells Bailey this in an attempt to change his mind, not out of genuine fear. Criminals are everywhere, not just limited to Florida, and every vacation bears the risk of calamity. The grandmother’s attempt to manipulate goes even further. Hoping to appeal to Bailey conscience and love for his children she brings the safety of the children into question by stating “I wouldn’t take my children in any direction with a criminal...
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