In Flannery O'Connor's "A Good Man Is Hard to Find," why does the grandmother have an epiphany, and what is its significance?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

The grandmother has an epiphany, an illuminating realization of truth, because, as the Misfit identifies in the end, she finally "had...somebody there to shoot her." It took being in a life-and-death situation, a moment that tested all of her mettle and values, for her to have a realization about her own humanity as well as the Misfit's. When the Misfit shows emotion and vulnerability, his voice "about to crack," this is when her own "head cleared for an instant." It seems that this is the exact moment of her epiphany: when she observes his emotions in her own heightened emotional state, she realizes how they are similar, rather than how they are different.

The Misfit is precisely the kind of person that the grandmother would never have called a "good man" before she found herself in this situation. He has been to prison multiple times; he's been accused of many crimes, some of which he has actually committed. He doesn't come from a family she would consider to be "good people," even...

(The entire section contains 3 answers and 1022 words.)

Unlock This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Start your 48-Hour Free Trial
Approved by eNotes Editorial Team