A Good Man Is Hard to Find by Flannery O’Connor is a short story and many critics have various points of view about it. Some scholars pointed at the greatest problem of individualism, others referred to the religious themes in the story. Moreover, the story relation to the Eddie Green’s 1918 song with the same title is observed and many scholars cannot reject this idea, “the lyrics avert attention from the illusive to the near” (Nester 115).
The very story is focused on many specific aspects and smaller themes which are closely interconnected, however the idea of individualism is the dominant. The author touches the family relations, the contradiction from the very first sentence and many other themes which may be considered in the story. However, the problem of individualism is believed to be the central theme in the paper.
Grandmother is believed to be the person who has managed to become individuality in dangerous world where people who lived with her were unable to understand her desire to be the one who differs from others not because she is special, but because she has her point of view, her specific ideas and consideration in the direction of many aspects and the inability of other family members crates a kind of a contrast.
Considering individualism as the social notion, it may be concluded that it should be defined as the moral worth of a person. Individuality is a person who deserves much attention. It is a person who has personal ideas, personal point of view and particular attitude to the things. The more personal issues are considered in the story, the more attention should be paid to the person. Individualism is a desire of a person who has managed to enter the society to show personal opinion.
It is obvious that calling a person individuality we mean in most cases the person who manages to express his/her ideas in such a way that many people should listen to them. Thus, calling the grandmother in A Good Man Is Hard to Find by Flannery O’Connor individuality who deserves attention is correct. Additionally, it should be stated that the grandmother is the only individuality in the story. Each her movement, each her phrase is the expression of the personal ideas and desires.
She does not pay attention to anyone who tries to contradict her point of view, she does everything to make sure that her opinion is heard and that she has done everything to protect herself. Such individualism is seen from the very beginning of the story and is not finish up to the very end of it. Hooten is sure that “the grandmother in A Good Man Is Hard to Find loses her earthly life, but in the last moment when she renounces her individualism, she may also be finding spiritual life” (200).
Proving the idea of the grandmother’s domination, her individualism and the desire to show that her point of view should be listened to, it is important to conduct a close reading of the text. It will help to see all the quotes which show that the grandmother managed to express her point of view in such a way that all the members had to do nothing but to submit. “The grandmother didn’t want to go to Florida. She wanted to visit some of her connections in east Tennes – see and she was seizing at every chance to change Bailey’s mind” (O’Connor 495).
This is the first sentence in the story. It may be said that the whole story is supported with such statements. The grandmother wants something and she is intended to do it. Such phrases are numerous. It is easy to remember the way how the grandmother insists on the ideas she likes and what she does to convince others that the opinion she has created is the only necessary and the only correct. Showing her personality, the grandmother does everything as she likes without being interested in what others think about the issues.
It is obvious that the grandmother is sure that she is wiser and everyone has to listen to her, “She said she thought it was going to be a good day for driving, neither too hot nor too cold, and she cautioned Bailey that the speed limit was fifty-five miles an hour and that the patrolmen hid themselves behind billboards and small clumps of trees and sped out after you before you had a chance to slow down” (O’Connor 495).
This phrase seems to be the statement of the fact, however, the grandmother makes everyone believe that this is her idea. Such cases are numerous in the story and this may be one of the reasons why in some situations it seemed that the grandmother was not noticed at all.
Considering the attitude to the grandmother, it should be stated that no one treats her seriously. When she speaks to someone – no one answers her the way she deserves it. Being the mother of her “only boy” (O’Connor 495), when she speaks to any other member of the family they answer her as if she was nothing for them.
Doing their business, those people managed to answer the questions without looking at her. This is exactly what happens in the family. Reading that the grandmother “has to go everywhere” (O’Connor 495) the family goes it appears that other members of the family consider her as a one who is to be near them without noticing her individuality, “Bailey didn’t [even] look up from his reading” (O’Connor 497).
This is not the disgrace, it looks more like the situation when people got used to something and do not consider them as something valued. This is one of the reasons why the family members do not consider the grandmother appropriately. She is individuality. She has a personal point of view about each issue, in the relation to every problem and situation and this is the fact that makes others to be disturbed about their personal individualities as they failed to be as smart as the grandmother was.
Even the analysis of the story conducted by Keil makes it obvious that “O’Connor’s grandmother… is alienated from other members of creation. She is surrounded by people without any sign of intimate fellowship, just as the sailor is surrounded by water without being able to quench his thirst” (45). It is impossible to disagree with the statement as even at the end of the story the grandmother stays alone.
She appears an eye to eye with the killer trying to express her individuality and to convince him not to kill her. Additionally, considering the text, she is trying to behave in the way how she sees herself, she is trying to make sure that the Mistif is individuality, “”Jesus… You have got good blood! I know you would not shoot a lady! I know you come from nice people! Pray! Jesus, you ought not to shoot a lady. I’ll give you all the money I have got!” (O’Connor 506).
In conclusion, I should be stated that the problem of individuality in the paper is closely related to the absence of the individual features in other members of the discussion. There is an opinion that the grandmother lies to everyone and tries to manipulate others. This is true in some way and it is impossible to reject this idea.
However, all these actions show the grandmother as a strong personality and individuality who manages to reach the purposes she wants. It is obvious that the possibility to manipulate others points at two factors, a person who manipulates other is a strong individuality while those who are manipulated are the weaker ones.
The grandmother is individuality who has her personal point of view and does all possible to convince others that her opinion is the only correct. The purpose of this paper is not to show whether she is right or not. The individuality may have many points of view. At the same time, it is possible to state that it was proven that the grandmother deserves to be called individuality. The whole short story proves this idea via her actions and statements, and the behavior and opinion of others who surround her.
Hooten, Jessica. “Individualism in O’Connor’s A Good Man is Hard to Find.” Explicator 66.4 (2008): 197-200. Print.
Keil, Katherine. “O’Connor’s a good man is hard to find.” Explicator 65.1 (2006): 44-47. Print.
Nester, Nancy L. “O’Connor’s “A Good Man Is Hard to Find”.” Explicator 64.2 (2006): 115-118. Print.
O’Connor, Flannery. “A Good Man Is Hard to Find.” The Norton Introduction to Literature. Eds. Alison Booth and Kelly J. Mays. 10th ed. New York: W. W. Norton, 2005. 495–506. Print.