A Good Man Is Hard to Find Questions and Answers
by Flannery O’Connor

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In "A Good Man is Hard to Find," why does the Grandmother say the Misfit is one of her children when she only has one son?

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Lynn Ramsson eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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The grandmother, in a misguided attempt to appeal to the Misfit's non-existent sympathy, calls him "one of her own children." She does not mean that she suddenly recognizes the Misfit as her long-lost child in a literal sense; rather, she means that he is so familiar to her at this particular moment that he could be her own child.

The grandmother makes this kind of comment in response to a display of vulnerability by the Misfit. While talking about Jesus, the Misfit has just displayed some emotional depth, as evidenced by the expression on his face being "as if he were going to cry." Possibly, the grandmother may be trying to deepen the emotional connection between herself and the Misfit so that he will feel something positive towards her and let her live, but no matter her motives, her attempts to create a bond fail. The Misfit shoots her when she tries to touch his shoulder and offer him comfort, and he and Bobby Lee mock her talkative manner over her dead body.

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accessteacher eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Yes, you are right to comment on this, because, as far as we know, the grandmother only has one son, Bailey. However, at the end of the story, as she converses with the Misfit whilst her son, daughter-in-law and grandchildren are being killed, she suddenly has a kind of epiphany which involves her identification of the Misfit as being her child:

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

This is a statement that must not be taken literally. Rather, if we look at this quote in context, we can see that the grandmother is tremendously moved by the Misfit's expressed desire to ascertain the truth of Jesus and his actions. Her epiphany is therefore based on her understanding of a sense of human connection between them both and her awareness of the similarities between them. She realises that she is a "Misfit" just like the Misfit, but just before her death she is given this moment of insight in which she is allowed to see herself for who she really is.

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