What aspects does the author of "A Good Man is Hard to Find" criticize about her society?

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One facet of society which is heavily criticized in this short story is the character trait of hypocrisy. Consider the grandmother, who goes on the trip dressed in her finest clothes so that, upon inspection, anyone will quickly know that she is a lady. Yet true ladies would not make racist comments as they pass by little African American children on the drive, calling one a "pickaninny" and noting that "little n****** in the country don’t have things like we do"—yet finding this scene somehow so adorable that she wishes she could capture a picture of it. The grandmother creates a beautiful exterior to mask a racist heart.

Her sense of hypocrisy is also shown in the labels she attaches to others. She believes in the societal power of having "good blood," or coming from an advantageous background. Being a commoner is devalued. Yet when Red Sam tells her that he's been cheated out of payment, she tells him that he's a "good man." Likely she is trying to uphold his sense of charity, but Red Sam didn't intend to provide charity when the men charged their gas. Then, when begging for her life, the grandmother uses this same label to describe the Misfit:

You’ve got good blood! I know you wouldn’t shoot a lady! I know you come from nice [people]!

The grandmother attempts to use her own hypocritical standards of evaluating the world based on family influence to sway a man who holds no such values. She still believes herself a superior lady, not of "common blood" and therefore worth sparing. Yet the Misfit is not hypocritical in his murders; he kills without regard for age, gender, or background.

The grandmother's belief that she is a lady whose life is therefore worth sparing isn't enough to save her. Her hypocritical evaluations of judging people don't hold any weight with a man who is consistently evil and is therefore more predictable than a hypocritical old woman.

Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on December 23, 2019
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