When the grandmother’s head clears for an instant in "A Good Man is Hard to Find," what does she suddenly understand?

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cybil eNotes educator| Certified Educator

O'Connor's conclusion to this story is often considered a puzzling one with the grandmother's remark to the Misfit, "You're one of my own children." In fact, she is experiencing her moment of grace, an essential experience for O'Connor's characters in that she recognizes a kinship with the Misfit. Despite the old woman's air of superiority earlier in the story and her lame attempts to flatter the Misfit to save her own life, she finally realizes that he is not so different from her. Of course, he's not literally her child; instead, she has a moment of insight when her head clears, and she sees that she is no better than the Misfit. In fact, both characters reveal that good "is hard to find."

Earlier O'Connor tells us the grandmother had a "peculiar feeling" she "had known him all her life" and "she could not recall who he was." The Misfit's shooting her in response to her final comment may indicate, furthermore, that he feels it mysteriously to be true. They are connected. This kind of recognition scene is common in O'Connor's work. 

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A Good Man Is Hard to Find

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