In "A Good Man is Hard to Find" by Flannery O'Conner, how is the following quote important to the story?
"If I were a little boy." said by the grandmother, "I wouldn't talk about my native state that way."
This quote is uttered by the young boy in the family, John Wesley. The family is just starting out on a road trip to Florida. The father of the family, Bailey, is driving. There is a mother (unnamed), a little girl, June Star, a baby (unnamed), the grandmother (unnamed) and a cat. Prior to the grandmother having said this quote, the little boy makes the comment:
"Let's go through Georgia fast so we won't have to look at it much."
The grandmother says this quote, and then she tells him that Tennessee has the mountains and Georgia has the hills. The boy then tells her that:
"Tennessee is just a hillbilly dumping ground and Georgia is a lousy state too."
The grandmother believes that these comments show disrespect. In her day, children were taught more respect for all things, and nowadays, a good man (and a good little boy) is hard to find. The quote is important because it shows how critical and opinionated the grandmother is. It also illustrates the degree of dysfunction in this family that will be traveling together in a car, but are really not very connected to each other in the right ways. It is not until the end of this story, right before the moment of death, that the grandmother has an epiphany that shows her her sins - in a brief moment, in a twinkling of an eye, right before the Misfit shoots her. The quote also builds upon the grandmother's character.
The quote is also ironic because the grandmother insists on taking a detour to see her family home, which she insists is not far, it's on the way. Her son Bailey reluctantly agrees to stop there, but because they do so, they have an accident. The grandmother realizes just before the accident that the house she remembered was not in Georgia after all, but in Tennessee. Because they stop in Georgia, they are delayed and run into the psychopath called the Misfit, who kills the entire family. If they had kept driving and not stopped, they could have avoided the Misfit. So John Wesley's native state, that he wanted to drive through "fast" winds up being the place of his death.