“‘She would have been a good woman,’ said The Misfit, ‘if someone had been there to shoot her everyday of her life.’ ” Flannery O'Connor, A Good Man Is Hard To Find
In Flannery O'Connor's "A Good Man Is Hard to Find," the protagonist in a unnamed grandmother who considers that the highest virtue of all is to be a lady. She is constantly placing judgment upon others. However, her manipulation in these instances gets her and her family in trouble. The grandmother in “A Good Man Is Hard to Find” is hardly the plump, white-haired, cookie-baking woman expected of a grandmother. Rather, she is a manipulative, selfish, petty character who believes being a lady makes her important above all else.
In the beginning of the story, an argument ensues between our grandmother and Bailey, her son, about whether to take their vacation to Florida or Tennessee. The grandmother wishes to go to East Tennessee to visit old acquaintances while Bailey wishes to journey to Florida. She supports her argument by telling Bailey that her conscience would never allow her bring her children where she knew an escaped convict, known as The Misfit was at large. When Bailey didn't respond, she promptly turned to his wife and told her daughter-in-law that the trip to East Tennessee would broaden the children's mind. However, the grandmother never turns a critical eye upon herself. Throughout the story she makes many mistakes. For example, she sneaks her cat, Pitty Sling, into the car, lies to the children about a secret panel in a house she wishes to visit, and will not admit her mistake when she remembers the same house is in a different state. Due to the fact that she brought the cat along, the family has a wreck, and encounters The Misfit. The grandmother had been so sure that he was in Florida. Here she asks him if he would shoot a lady, believing that he, like herself, thought a lady the highest in all society. Though The Misfit systematically murders her son and his family, she never pleads for their lives, because it is not her own. Nevertheless, when her life his threatened she does offer money and plead. Only when she is going to be killed does she realize that he is her son. "Why you’re one of my babies. You’re one of my own children." In this moment she realizes that he too is a human, and that she makes mistakes. This is a moment of realization, one that is immediately followed by death. However, she grew more at that moment of death than she ever has through those of life, and dies with a peaceful smile on her face. Perhaps everyone has a bit of The Grandmother in them, considering themselves better than others because they are a lady, or a gentleman, or whatever it may be. However, will they, as the grandmother did, figure this out before it is too late?
In the short story, “A Good Man Is Hard to Find," Flannery O’Connor creates something more a factious, brain-numbing, horror story. She creates a black story intertwined with symbolism and hidden meanings. Perhaps through the grandmother she was forming a warning, a warning that man often looks down upon another man, a warning to realize that all men were created equal.