A Good Man is Hard to Find: The Power of Manipulation Essay
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One tends to meet someone who seems to be in charge of everyone around him or her. The grandmother in Flannery O’Conner’s A Good Man is Hard to Find is an extraordinary, scheming character that is extremely unrelenting in her actions to control people. On the contrary, she may have been a person just trying to attempt to save her own life without trying to be controlling. Maybe the fact that she was raised in a time when woman wore dresses to go out and never did anything unlady-like, made her think that her way of thinking and acting was the only acceptable behavior, even till the very moments before she was killed by the Misfit. The grandmother was trying to change her killer’s outlook on life and his position on holy grace and…show more content…
She was a lady through and through, so much that “In case of an accident, anyone seeing her dead on the highway would know at once that she was a lady.” The irony of that quote is simply that it becomes factual. Flannery O’Connor really paints a vivid picture of how self absorbed this character is. The grandmother’s personality might play a role in her self-proclaimed aristocrat outlook on society but the way that she was raised probably had a much greater impact on the way she view things as proper and right. Flannery O’Connor wrote A Good Man is Hard to Find in the 1946. From this, readers can assume that the grandmother would have grown up before the time of the booming 1920’s. After the 1920’s, many women’s outlook on what was proper and acceptable was drastically changed. The grandmother saw this drastic change in the morality of the American Society, which could have given her the idea that she was a more proper and sophisticated lady then the younger people who had completely different views on what was deemed expectable. She was surrounded with people that she was much older than her, which could have also given her the thought that she was among the hierarchy. This is because of the time period that she was brought up, she may have felt it necessary for her to teach other people the ways that to days younger people seemed to have lost. One could see the influence that her
What makes people act the way they do? Is it hereditary? Could it be that instinct alone guides people and their behavior? Or is it that people become a product of their environment? The answer can be found in Flannery O’Connor’s “A Good Man is Hard to Find“. A Grandmother, living with her son and his family, appears to be a manipulative and deceitful old woman. As she and her family take a vacation drive to Florida they stumble across three escaped convicts and are systematically murdered, thanks to Grandmother’s deceitful ploy. The driving force behind the Grandmother’s deceit is the way the family treats her.
The Grandmother tries to convince Bailey, her son, to change their travel destination from Florida to Tennessee, and is completely ignored. “Here this fellow that calls himself The Misfit is aloose and headed toward Florida” (495). “I wouldn’t take my children in any direction with a criminal like that aloose in it.” (495). “Bailey didn’t look up from his reading, so she wheeled around then and faced the children’s mother” (495). As she pleads with the mother, we see that again she is ignored. “You all ought to take them somewhere else for a change so they would see different parts of the world and be broad.” (495). “The children’s mother didn’t seem to hear her” (495). It is clear that neither adult has any interest in The Grandmother’s wants or concerns. Indeed, it seems that they do not even know she exists, not important enough to acknowledge.
In addition to the way Bailey and his wife treat her, The Grandmother has to put up with verbal abuse from her grandchildren. Apparently these children can say whatever they want to their Grandmother, no matter how disrespectful, without any repercussions. The little girl, June Star, says of The Grandmother, “She wouldn’t stay home for a million bucks, afraid she’d miss something” (496). The boy, John Wesley, adds his bit by saying, “Tennessee is just a hillbilly dumping ground” (497). An indirect insult to the Grandmother who, the book leads us to believe, is from Tennessee. These children, her grandchildren no less, clearly have no respect for The Grandmother. To be treated in such a fashion at that age, by children of their age, has got to be a bitter pill to swallow.
The Grandmother’s attempt to deceive her family is a direct result of the family’s mistreatment of her. Bailey and his wife clearly are not interested in The Grandmothers opinions or desires, and the children show only disdain, bordering on contempt, when speaking to The Grandmother.
O’Connor has unwittingly hit upon the way the elderly are often mistreated. Their opinions are of no consequence, if even heard. They are rarely noticed at all unless they do something outrageous. The old adage that says, “Children should be seen and not heard” can often be applied to the elderly. When the elderly have finally gotten enough of this abuse they do something to say, “Hey! I am here! I am not dead yet! My opinions do matter! Treat me with the respect I indeed deserve.” It is a sad society that treats the elderly this way. The elderly have lived a long life, have contributed very much to society, and they should not have to resort to trickery or tantrums to have their voices heard. They should be treated with the respect they have earned.
“A Good Man is Hard to Find” written by one of the most prominent fiction writers is a great example of American Literature.
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