How does Flannery O’Connor characterize the grandmother in "A Good Man is Hard to Find" in her conversation with the Misfit?

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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The grandmother reveals herself to be a very selfish woman who clings to some kind of religious, outdated moral code and tries to persuade the Misfit that he should do the same. What is notable in this section of the story is how the grandmother does nothing to try and save her son, daughter-in-law and grandchildren. She lets them go off without trying to persaude the Misfit that he shouldn't kill them. She only tries to save herself. Note what she says to the Misfit when she realises she is the last member of the family who is going to be killed:

"Jesus!" the old lady cried. "You've got good blood! I know you wouldn't shoot a lady! I know you come from nice people! Pray! Jesus, you ought not to shoot a lady. I'll give you all the money I've got!"

The grandmother appeals to the Misfit by claiming he has "good blood" as he comes from a good family. She feels that the background you have and whether your family is respectable or not determines whether you are a good person. Her belief that the Misfit is a "good" man leads her to conclude, wrongly, that he will not shoot her. She therefore reveals herself to be selfish, fascinatingly naive about human nature and also she shows that she interprets "good" to mean in alignment with her own moral code and values.


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