In "A Good Man is Hard to Find" O'Connor raises fundamental questions about doubt and faith and demonstrates the need to love unconditionally. The author demonstrates how selfish and manipulative people can be and it is only through divine intervention that true faith can be established. Through this story O'Conner shows the Grandmother's transformation from hypocrisy, to her epiphany and then her, faith. The author raises questions about the Grandmother's uncertainties about her faith, by displaying her as a sanctimonious, manipulative and judgmental racist individual who only through her last moments in life truly understands her place in humanity.
O'Connor's use of the Grandmother's character shows Southern hypocrisy at its finest by signifying the Grandmother's prejudice of race and social classes through her ignorance. She professes to be a Christian woman but only seems concerned with her own needs and seems detached for her family, showing no real love or attachment. Her lack of love is shown through her manipulation of her family. She manipulates the family vacation by telling Bailey about the prison escapee called the Misfit and that he is on his way to Florida and that she "wouldn't take her family to such a place" (O'Conner, 2007) . When that doesn't seem to get a reaction, her next recourse is to say that they have already gone to Florida on vacation. It's not about her, she implies, it's about the children. She clearly exhibits her manipulation by playing on Bailey's guilt so that she can achieve her goal to go to Tennessee.
Once she has achieved her objective and the family is ready to leave for Tennessee she flaunts her hypocrisy by taking pains to dress properly, "so that if she were found dead on the highway everyone would recognize her as a lady" (O'Conner, 2007, p. 203). In addition to her pretensions to be a lady she exhibits racist views as she observes a young black male and refers to him as a "pickaninny" and states that "little niggers in the country don't have things like we do" (O'Conner, 2007, p. 203). Because she believes that she is a product of a superior upbringing she possesses a false sense of narcissism. O'Conner's deep Catholic faith is demostrated in her writing because it opposes all what a true Catholic believes "that all people are created equal and there is no division of races" (Hardon, 1998). O'Conner continues to show her disgust with the Grandmother's hypocrisy by painting the Grandmother in a negative light by displaying her ignorance and point of views in the conversation that she has with Red Sammy that she believes that "Europe was entirely to blame for the way things were now." (O'Conner, 2007, p. 205) . It is not until the Grandmother encounters the Misfit does O'Conner portray her in a positive light and show that the Grandmother connects with her true faith
The author introduces the Grandmother and the Misfit after an accident occurs in which she manipulated and ultimately leads to the death of her entire family. It is during this meeting the Grandmother tries to convert The Misfit from into a good man by using the same manipulation that she used on her family, but she fails miserably and causes her untimely death. O'Connor then provides a moment for the Grandmother to transform herself into a good woman. This moment occurs when The Grandmother's head clears and "she saw the Misfit's face twisted close to her own as if he were going to cry," (O'Conner, 2007, p. 211) and she looks into the Misfits eyes and she realizes that he is just as afraid as she is and exclaims "Why you're one of my babies. You're one of my children!" (O'Conner, 2007, p. 211) It is at this moment that she realizes what true faith is when she can call the man that has killed her whole family one of her children. The fact that O'Connor leaves her in the position with her face upturned to heaven, "she sat and half lay in a puddle of blood with her legs crossed under her like a child's and her face smiling up at the cloudless sky" (O'Conner, 2007, p. 212). I feel it infers to eternal grace and the Grandmother was finally transformed into a "good woman."
O'Conner's tone give the reader the sense that we are ensnared in our own lives and that we are so focused on ourselves that we often forget to understand and connect with other people and it is not until we are faced with a tragedy or death that we realize that God's love and forgiveness are available to people in everyday life. I also felt that O'Conner wanted to express her belief in the Catholic faith which is the acceptance of faith unconditionally and she showed this when the Grandmother had her moment of epiphany and accepted her fate that she was going to die and that was what God intended.
- Hardon, J. A. (1998). The Sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation. Retrieved January 10, 2009, from Catholic Educaion Resource Center: http://www.catholiceducation.org/articles/religion/re0285.html
- O'Conner, F. (2007). A Good Man Is Hard to Find. In R. DiYanni, Literature (p. 202). New York: McGraw Hill.