What might the grandmother represent in the story "A Good Man is Hard to Find" ?

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The grandmother represents people who enjoy cultural privilege. She is white, and she is likely from an upper-middle class background. As such, she has a very particular stance on the past—she thinks of it as a time when things were better; it was a time when people were trustworthy and...

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The grandmother represents people who enjoy cultural privilege. She is white, and she is likely from an upper-middle class background. As such, she has a very particular stance on the past—she thinks of it as a time when things were better; it was a time when people were trustworthy and shared her values. It was a time when ladies acted like ladies (unlike her daughter-in-law, who wears slacks), and men were "good" and well-mannered, polite and polished. In fact, she even dresses up for a road trip because, just in case the family gets into an accident and she's injured or killed, she wants people who see her body to know that she was "a lady."

The grandmother is precisely the kind of person who would have judged and imprisoned the Misfit—a poor, uneducated man who can easily be scapegoated because he lacks much of the privilege the grandmother enjoys and has no one to fight for him. She might have taken one look at him, in another situation, and never once considered his humanity, his similarity to her. This is what makes her final epiphany, that they have more similarities than differences, so shocking, and it explains the Misfit's comment that "she would have been a good woman . . . if there had been someone there to shoot her every minute of her life." She wasn't actually a "good woman," ironically, for most of her life; only in her final moments were her priorities in order and only because she knew they were her final moments.

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The grandmother represents a sinner. She therefore represents all of us, as we are all sinners in need of God's grace according to O'Connor's Roman Catholic worldview.

The grandmother is the last person on earth who you would expect to be the recipient of God's grace. She is difficult, annoying, racist, classist in her pride about being a lady, xenophobic in her conversation with Sam about all the US money being sent to Europe, sneaky in bringing her cat on the trip unbeknownst to anyone, manipulative in getting her grandchildren to complain until Bailey pulls off onto the deserted road that will allegedly take them to a plantation, and ultimately, responsible for her entire family's death in not keeping her mouth shut when they flip the car (which is also her fault) and meet up with the Misfit.

Does it get any worse? It seems unlikely, and yet, at the end of the story, this is the woman who is able, through God's grace, to see the Misfit as her own child and in the second before he blows her away to love him. If God can grant this grace to the grandmother, he can grant it to anyone.

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I think that the grandmother may represent a couple of things.  I first think that she represents selfishness and manipulation. She is constantly trying to selfishly manipulate her family members.  She doesn't want to go to Florida. She wants to go to Tennessee.  So what does she do?  She tells the family all about the horrible Misfit killer that is in Florida. She says that Florida would not be good for the kids. She says that John must not have much respect for his home state and that is why he wants go to to Florida.  Talk about a guilt trip. 

Her selfishness is very apparent after she and the family are captured by the Misfit.  Not once does she ask or beg the Misfit to spare the lives of her children and grandchildren.  She only asks him to spare her life.  

She is also a hypocrite. The entire story is about her trying to manipulate people.  Her family, the Misfit killer, etc.  While trying to manipulate people, she even lies and/or tells half truths.  Yet despite those negative qualities, she claims that she is the very definition of a southern lady.  Perfect looking at all time, moral, honest, virtuous, etc.  She may claim all of that, but her actions prove her a hypocrite. 

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