What values or worldview does the grandmother represent in “A Good Man Is Hard to Find”? How, specifically, do her own words and those of the narrator contribute to our understanding of her character? What stance does the story encourage us to take in regard to the grandmother? How or why might the grandmother be described as having “little—or at best a distorted—sense of spiritual purpose”?

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The grandmother's values focus on appearances and status. She wants to present the appearance of a lady of substance to her family and the world. Some examples of this concern with appearances include her affectations of a worldliness that she does not have, as when she cites the newspapers, and...

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The grandmother's values focus on appearances and status. She wants to present the appearance of a lady of substance to her family and the world. Some examples of this concern with appearances include her affectations of a worldliness that she does not have, as when she cites the newspapers, and her way of dressing to impress. She is wearing a hat and gloves for a car trip, which women of a certain social class did in that era. We can see this affectation when she talks about her suitor, Mr. Teagarden, who bought Coca-Cola stock and became wealthy. Of course, had she married this man, she would not have the miserable family she has now. She also looks back fondly on her younger days visiting plantations with their white-columned mansions.

The grandmother's concern with status also causes her to make several racist remarks in the story, as when she incongruously and cluelessly calls a poor black child without any pants a "pickaninny" and says she wants to paint a picture of him. She also uses the n-word casually in her conversation. By elevating herself on the basis of race, she increases her status in her own eyes.

The story encourages us to be critical of the grandmother by describing ways in which she is silly, vain, annoying, and manipulative. She manipulates her son to drive down a dangerous road, she brings along her cat without telling anyone, she constantly complains and finds fault. In this way, author Flannery O'Connor is setting us up for the shocking conclusion when the grandmother has a breakthrough right before she dies.

During her conversation with the Misfit, the grandmother tries to flatter him by remarking that she knows he comes from a fine family and that he does not have any "common blood." She is appealing to him on the basis of shared status. The grandmother is so wrapped up in trying to unsuccessfully manipulate the Misfit that she does not appear to notice that he is orchestrating the murder of her family. The grandmother does urge the Misfit to pray several times and says that Jesus will help him, but the Misfit responds that he doesn't need any help. They go along in this manner until the grandmother shouts "Pray! Jesus, you ought not to shoot a lady! I'll give you all the money I've got!"

Indeed, although the grandmother says more pious words, she shows little to no sense of spiritual purpose until the second before she is shot by the Misfit, when "the grandmother's head cleared," and she seemed to authentically recognize the humanity in the distraught Misfit as he struggled to understand his and the world's relationship to Jesus Christ. In that instant, O'Connor, a devout Catholic, shows us that the silly, vain, contemptible grandmother has been redeemed through grace.

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The grandmother values having her own way and is willing to be underhanded or manipulative to get it. For example, she is underhanded in sneaking her cat Pitty Sing into the car for the family vacation. She later manipulates the children into whining loudly to see the old plantation so that Bailey will bend to her will and turn down the deserted road.

She also divides the world into "tribes" and values her own tribe as special. She calls a little black child a "pickanniny," a racist term, and tells the children that rural blacks "don’t have things like we do." She also complains to Red Sam at Tower during lunch that too much American money is going to help Europe, taking from her own "tribe," the US:

in her opinion Europe was entirely to blame for the way things were now. She said the way Europe acted you would think we were made of money.

She values being a lady as her form of security in the world. The narrator tells us she dresses like a lady for her car journey:

the grandmother had on a navy blue straw sailor hat with a bunch of white violets on the brim and a navy blue dress with a small white dot in the print. Her collars and cuffs were white organdy trimmed with lace and at her neckline she had pinned a purple spray of cloth violets containing a sachet. In case of an accident, anyone seeing her dead on the highway would know at once that she was a lady.

When she is threatened by the Misfit, she falls back on the idea that he wouldn't kill a lady.

We are encouraged to laugh at and be irritated with the troublesome, annoying grandmother. She is a pain in the neck. She has a distorted sense of spiritual purpose in that she places all her hope on her external value in the world: her status as a lady and her money, both of which she tries to use as bargaining chips with the Misfit. Both are completely worthless to her as she faces death.

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