It is not difficult to feel some degree of sympathy for the grandmother at the start of Flannery O’Connor’s ‘A Good Man is Hard to Find,’ but the reader quickly realizes this is not exactly the author’s intention. Throughout the story, the writer successfully manages through the tone, dialogue, and the character description that grandmother is the suitable one to get the title of Misfit. The third person narrative is closely focused on the grandmother’s point of view, which establishes her more strongly in the reader’s mind than other characters. Additionally, the fact that the elderly woman remains nameless; is ignored by her son and daughter in law and treated with a degree of contempt by her grandchildren, supports this initial invitation to view the old lady sympathetically. However, because of grandmother, the whole family suffers in a direct or indirect manner. Nevertheless, the grandmother sees herself as quite a decent, dignified, traditional, and civilized person, who judges everyone but manages to overlook her own flaws. Thus, this story reflects on how through a conflict a person can find ‘good’ in others or within themselves, this story also shows that everyone has flaws, but sometimes it gets too late for them to realize their mistakes.
In the whole story, the grandmother is shown as self- centered and manipulative character. She has her own ideas about the forthcoming vacation, but no one cares for them. “Why dontcha stay at home?” her eight-year-old grandson asks dismissively while her precocious granddaughter rather contemptuously observes, “She wouldn’t stay at home to be queen for a day” (227). However, reading between the lines of June Star’s observations, the reader quickly realizes that the grandmother is not the type to be left out of anything, “She has to go everywhere we go” the child states (227). This observation of the old woman through the child’s eyes shows she is a selfish old woman trying to impose her own desires on others. Seemingly unwanted by the family, it is easy to begin to see her as something of a misfit in her little world.
June Star’s judgment is corroborated by the fact that the grandmother is the first to be ready to leave, perhaps for fear of being left behind. Yet she is still determined to impose herself on her son and his family by positioning herself between the children, directing the driver from the back seat, and generally adopting the role of tour guide throughout the journey. The grandmother has many negative qualities: she is judgmental of her son and daughter in law for not allowing the children to “see different parts of the world and be broad” (227). As well as critical of her grandchildren “In my time...children were more respectful,” she claims, clearly suggesting that her grandchildren are not because of their display of prejudice regarding the places they pass through (228).
Quick to judge and criticize others, the grandmother is incapable of self-scrutiny. Her own prejudices,...