O’Connor uses the setting of the story to lure the reader into a state of comfort before unleashing the darkness the Misfit represents and the darkness of the Grandmother’s soul. The grandmother thinks she is a good woman and by all external appearances, she is. However, just like the pretty rural countryside they drive through, there is something hidden beneath the surface.
By setting the story in the rural, quiet countryside, O’Connor gives the reader a sense of calm and comfort before introducing the violence of the story which is supposed to jar the reader into reflection. Initially, the story meanders along with the family taking a road trip. . Even the stop at Red Sammy’s where the family find out about the Misfit escaping from jail are described visually as pleasant. Additionally, most place names and areas are vague to give the reader the idea that this violence can happen anywhere, especially where you least expect it.
The grandmother becoming mistaken about where the old plantation house is, can be seen as a metaphor for the path her life has taken. She thinks she is a good woman and that she is righteous in her beliefs but just like the pastoral landscape the family travels through, there is hidden darkness or evil lurking where you least expect it.