What is the grandmother's 'figurative journey' in "A Good Man Is Hard To Find" by Flannery O'connor?

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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The grandmother of Flannery O'Connor's "A Good Man is Hard to Find" travels from the recognition only of her own selfish desires to self-recognition of herself in another through suffering.  That is, she moves from spiritual blindness to grace.

After her family's accident when the Misfit and the others arrive in their hearse-like automobile and the Misfit has shot all her family, the grandmother pleads for her life with flattery, "i know you're a good man...."

"Nome, I ain't a good man," The Misfit replies, and with his face twisted close to her own, the grandmother has her moment of grace as she recognizes that she, too, is a sinner:

"Why, you're one of my babies.  You're one of my own children!"

After the Misfit fires three times, the grandmother's transcendence to grace is symbolized by her dying  with her legs crossed as though she has fallen from a cross. Her "face [is] smiling up at the cloudless sky," as though looking to heaven in innocence.  With an ironic recognition of this acquisition of grace the Misfit tells his companions,

"She would have been a good woman...if it had been sombody there to shoot her every minute of her life."

O'Connor suggests that the grandmother has received grace since Jesus "thrown everything off balance" by dying on a cross Himself.  Thus, suffering is an essential part of receiving grace, and the grandmother has made this journey of suffering, a journey from spiritual blindness and selfishness to suffering, and, thus, grace.

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deehighplz | Student | eNotes Newbie

Posted on

That was a wonderful answer! Thank you so much! I've been reading all of these other answers on different pages, but they just weren't clicking in my head as well as your answer did.

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