What is the last description of the grandma at the end of the story of "A Good Man Is Hard to Find" by Flannery O' Connor?

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mstultz72 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The grandmother tries to save herself by pleading to the Misfit, "You've got good blood! I know you wouldn't shoot a lady! I know you come from nice people! Pray! Jesus, you ought not to shoot a lady. I'll give you all the money I've got!"

The Misfit responds, "Jesus was the only One that ever raised the dead and He shouldn't have done it. He shown everything off balance. If He did what He said, then it's nothing for you to do but thow away everything and follow Him, and if He didn't, then it's nothing for you to do but enjoy the few minutes you got left the best way you can--by killing somebody or burning down his house or doing some other meanness to him. No pleasure but meanness."

Just before it is her turn to be shot, the grandmother says, "Why you're one of my babies. You're one of my own children!" She touches the Misfit on the shoulder, and he springs back "as if a snake had bitten him and [shoots] her three times through the chest."

The Misfit tells his accomplice to throw the grandmother into the woods with the others, adding: "She would have bee a good woman if it had been somebody there to shoot her every minute of her life."

mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In Flannery O'Connor's "A Good Man is Hard to Find," the grandmother collapses in death, a childlike smile upon her face with her legs folded into a grotesque cross, symbolic of her sudden honesty and consequent redemption in recognizing herself in the Misfit:  "Why you're one of my children."  When the Misfit responds to her urgings to pray, the Misfit responds with a nihilistic response.  He declares that "Jesus shown everything off balance."  That is, the Misfit feels that the punishment for Him was not equal to anything that He did, just as the Misfit's punishment did not balance with what he had done.

Through these and other religious motifs, such as the family's going through the dark woods as "a traditional theme in Christian exempla" (enotes), the mother's sin of selfishness is redeemed through her sacrificial death.  This unusually attained redemption is employed by O'Connor as a way of shocking the reader from what she called "religious complacency."

epollock | Student


The last description of the dead grandmother (“her legs crossed under her like a child’s and her face smiling up at the cloudless sky”) suggests that death has jolted the grandmother out of her mere secular decency into the truth of eternal reality.

The bizarre discussion of Christology that takes place between the Grandmother and the Misfit in paragraphs 129-136 at the end of the story–seems intended to remind readers of the errors of religious perception that lead people not to salvation but rather to disaster. The grandmother waffles philosophically, trying to use Jesus as a means of saving herself even though she shows no other understanding of Jesus, prayer, or religion. Certainly, everyone in the story is in need of redemption. Thus Bailey’s automobile is a symbol, a microcosm, of people who experience anger, annoyance, humor, deception—all the ills that flesh is heir to. Allegorically, the trip is a voyage toward arguable and arbitrary goals, and the disastrous diversion and encounter suggest the need for a more rigorous modern teleology. Without a clearer vision, the story is suggesting, people will continue to be subject to the whims of chance and the irony of their situation.

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A Good Man Is Hard to Find

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