What kind of conventional social and religious values does the grandmother represent in "A Good Man is Hard to Find"?

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Jamie Wheeler eNotes educator| Certified Educator

One way in which the grandmother reveals the societal values of her older generation is through her dress, juxtaposed through the comparatively lax values of her daughter-in-law.  While the grandmother sets out on the trip in "white cotton gloves" the "children's mother still had on slacks and still had her head tied up in a green kerchief" while the older lady "had on a navy blue straw sailor hat with a bunch of white violets...In case of an accident, anyone seeing her dead on the highway would know at once that she was a lady."

Other ways the grandmother's societal values are "dated" is in respect to the roles of children and adults.  When John Wesley, her grandson, mouths off to her, she says, "children were more respectful of their native states and their parents and everything else. People did right then."

Not all of grandmother's values are laudable, especially in regard to race sensitivity.  Immediately after berating John Wesley, she exclaims, "Oh, look at the cute little pickaninny!"  Her affection for the South and the days of slavery are not at all disguised. 

Relgiously, there is not much in the story to suggest that the grandmother is overtly religious, other in her Christian-like belief in the innate goodness of man.  Appealing this belief to the Misfit, he replies:  "God never made a finer woman than my mother and my daddy's heart was pure gold."  And then he kills her. 

 

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A Good Man Is Hard to Find

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