Why do the murders of the grandmother's family members take place in the woods in "A Good Man Is Hard to Find" by Flannery O'Connor?

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carol-davis | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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The grandmother in “A Good Man Is Hard to Find” by Flannery O’Connor relentlessly sets her family on the path of destruction.  As a master manipulator, she wields enough power to get her son to do things that he would not ordinarily do: stopping and talking to Red Sammy Butts; searching for a mansion from a youthful event; and her enduring chatter. Her selfishness surrounds the family when she forces her will on the family and does nothing to help or encourage the daughter-in-law or even the children. When it is evident that the companions of The Misfit are killing her family, she begs only for herself.

Why do the men take the family to a place outside of the view of the grandmother? Since the author does not share this information with the reader, an assumption will have to be made about the reason that the family is taken out of sight to be killed.

Bailey and his son are taken away from the view of the rest of the family.  Since their murders cannot be seen, the impact of their deaths would be lessened when the shots are heard.  The sound was not heard by anyone except the grandmother and the rest of the family.  Before Bailey leaves to go with the men, he tells his mother to wait on him. Not only was he in shock but he knew what was waiting for he and his son in the woods. He knew what was going to happen and there was nothing that he could do about it.  Even though she did not see him killed, the grandmother knew and called out to him “Bailey Boy...”

The mother, baby, and daughter are also taken into the wooded area.  The only sound will be the pistol reports and the rest of the family is killed.

 “The children’s mother had begun to make heaving noises as if she couldn’t get her breath. “Lady,” he asked, “would you and that little girl like to step off yonder with Bobby Lee and Hiram and join your husband?”

“Yes, thank you,” the mother said faintly.

The separation of the family when they are killed lessens the emotional anguish since the murders are not witnessed.  It prevents the others from struggling as their loved ones are killed.  In addition, if someone were to come along the road, the scene would be too far away to be witnessed. 

In her final act of selfishness, the grandmother begs for her life. The Misfit detaches himself from the murder of the family while the grandmother tries to manipulate him to not kill her.

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