When one first begins to read A Good Man is Hard to Find, by Flannery O’Connor, one is assailed by the humorous petty grievances of a mother living under her son’s roof disrespected by her grandchildren and lonely in a house filled with people, clutching at memories of days long passed similar to the Tennessee Williams play, The Glass Menagerie. As the story unfolds one begins to see the indifference of Bailey toward his family in general and especially his mother—rightly so, as the ‘old lady’ nagged her son and his family to the point of hilarity and rib-hurtin’ laughter had the cat stayed in the bag and the car did not leave the road. This interesting story of a mentally abused woman slighted by her family, who makes the fatal error in judgment by smuggling a cat into the automobile resulting in the unforeseen horror delved upon them by the escaped convict, ‘Misfit’ and his cohorts culminating in a self-fulfilled prophecy—negative thoughts give naissance to deleterious actions.
In 1955, when Ms. O’Connor penned this story the citizenry of the United States were experiencing the euphoric high of peace time following World War II and the Korean War, prosperity abounded and work-a-day folks were learning to experience vacations and weekend getaways—life was wonderful and beautiful. No one was desirous to be informed of the ugly truth dwelling beneath the thin eggshells of human existence—blinded by consumerism; folks did not want to be reminded of the viciousness rooted deep in the souls of some people epitomized by “Misfit” in this tale from the brilliant imagination of Ms. O’Connor. The ‘old lady’ portrayed in A Good Man is Hard to Find unknowingly spelled out their demise with a self-fulfilling prophecy as she stated: “Here this fellow that calls himself The Misfit is aloose from the Federal Pen and headed toward Florida and you read right here what it says he did to these people” (O’Connor, 1285). She further perpetrates the disaster by being first in the car in the morning and “…she was hiding a basket with Pitty Sing, the cat in it” (O’Connor, 1285).
Bailey, the old lady’s son fired up the car and in twenty minutes the family were outside the city limits of Atlanta, Georgia on the way to a day or two on one of the beautiful beaches in Florida. Bailey, without much revealed in the story one must speculate about his demeanor and his attitude toward his live-in mother. One can assume by the attitudes and action of two of his children he did not extend the respect due one who nurtured him all the years of his life nor did he wish to be his mother’s care-giver; only tolerating her until she passed away. Bailey’s children were disrespectful more often than not toward their paternal grandmother. “She wouldn’t stay at home to be queen for a day” and “She wouldn’t stay at home for a million bucks” and “Afraid she’d miss something. She has to go everywhere we go” said June Star Bailey’s little daughter (O’Connor, 1285).