dotted outline of a black cat sitting within a basket in front of an older woman wearing a sundress

A Good Man Is Hard to Find

by Flannery O’Connor

Start Free Trial

How is the grandmother selfish in "A Good Man is Hard to Find"?

The grandmother demonstrates selfishness in "A Good Man Is Hard to Find" through her manipulative actions. She first attempts to change the family's vacation destination by voicing her own desire to visit Tennessee instead of Florida. She later fails to admit that she has led them down a wrong road. Her most selfish act of all comes when she begs for her own life but makes no similar plea for the lives of her family members.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

The first detail of the grandmother's selfishness appears in the opening line: "The grandmother didn't want to go to Florida." She had plans of her own, wanting to instead visit Tennessee, and has been pressuring her son to change his family's plans. From this opening, there is a sense that...

See
This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Get 48 Hours Free Access

The first detail of the grandmother's selfishness appears in the opening line: "The grandmother didn't want to go to Florida." She had plans of her own, wanting to instead visit Tennessee, and has been pressuring her son to change his family's plans. From this opening, there is a sense that the grandmother tries to manipulate the family based on what is best for her own desires.

Another example of the grandmother's selfishness is her desire to control the details of the trip she has been invited on. After sneaking her cat in the car, she decides that she wants to visit an old plantation. The kids get incredibly excited about this possibility, and after travelling for a while, the grandmother realizes that she has led them down the wrong road. Instead of letting her family know of her mistake, she keeps the information to herself. This selfish decision actually leads to the accident where they encounter the Misfit.

The grandmother's most selfish display is her lack of intervention on behalf of her family when the Misfit decides to kill them all. She begs desperately to save herself, yet she makes no similar plea as her grandchildren, daughter-in-law, and son are led into the woods and shot. In fact, she displays little emotion at all as she hears each series of gunshots, too caught up in begging for her own life to react to their deaths.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team