The Grandmother 2 Essay, Research Paper
In the story A Good Man Is Hard To Find, the grandmother is shown to be a very self-centered person who thinks that the world revolves around her. The author makes this fact known right away. The grandmother “…didn’t want to go to Florida… and she was seizing every chance to change Bailey’s mind” (O’Connor 354). These first two lines show how selfish she is, meaning, she is only concerned with herself and has no reagard for others. The grandmother didn’t care less about where Bailey and the rest of the family wanted to go on vacation. Her only desire was to go where she wanted to go. In a round-about way, she even goes so far as to deprecate her own son by saying he isn’t a very good father if he chooses to take his kids to Florida. When the grandmother says, “I wouldn’t take my children in any direction with a criminal like that aloose in it” (354), she’s implying that she is a much better parent than Bailey is. She says this hoping that Bailey would feel guilty about his decision to go to Florida, and as a result of that guilt, get him to change his mind.
Bailey”s reactions toward his mother reinforce the fact that she is domineering, even to the point of being intimidating, In the beginning of the story, Bailey is shown to be nervous, as “He was sitting on the edge of his chair at the table…” (354) while his mother is trying to talk him into changing his mind about where they go for their vacation. He is also very passive around his mother, and it shows be the way he offers no resistance or objections to what she is demanding. When Bailey looks “straight ahead… His jaw was as rigid as a horseshoe” (358), he was obviously upset about the way the grandmother tries to control what is going on. She overlooks this obvious displeasure in him because she says, “In my time… Children were more respectful…” (355), and this statement shows how she was raised; to be respectful of everything, including her elders. In turn, she expects Bailey, regardless of how he feels, to respond the same way.
The grandmother not only tries to manipulate Bailey, but she also tries to use this influence on her grandchildren as well. When the family is on the road and the grandmother starts talking about the old plantation she used to visit when she was young, she decides, this time, to prey on the curiosity of her grandchildren. In order to do that, she lies to them. ” ‘There was a secret panel in this house,’ she said craftily, not telling the truth…” (358). The grandmother’s obvious manipulations are her way of getting what she wants and of controlling other people to do what she wants. And it works. The children were so excited about the possibility of a hidden treasure behind this panel, that they began yelling and whining to their parents about wanting to see this secret panel, until finally, Bailey gives in.
Not only is the grandmother selfish about getting what she wants, she is also greedy to the point of putting her own life and welll-being ahead of the lives of her children and grandchildren. When they meet up with the misfit, the first thing she says when she realizes who he is, is, “You wouldn’t shoot a lady, would you” (361)? She is referring to herself. She shows no consideration for them; she shows no respect. And by doing this, it shows how much of a hypocrite she is. Trying to get on the misfit’s good side so he won’t bring any harm to her, she tries to lead him to believe that she thinks he’s a good man, even though she knows, through the newspaper article that she read, he is indeed, a criminal. But, she keeps telling him anyway, that he’s a good person and that he should pray, that “Jesus would help you” (364). She says this to him, not so much because she believes it and has faith in it, but more so because she wants him to believe. She wants him to have faith. She thinks that is she can convince him to believe that Jesus would help him and to have faith in the power of prayer, then he will have a sudden change of heart and let her go, unharmed.
Toward the end of the story, when nothing the grandmother has said seems to be working toward her advantage, she tries one more approach. She reaches out to the misfit as if she were his mother. She says, “Why, you’re one of my babies. You’re one of my own children” (365)! It seems the grandmother was always able to get her own son Bailey to do what she wanted, so she thought if she could connect with the misfit in a mother/son way, then she would get him, also, to do what she wanted. Of course, in the end, none of that worked. The grandmother’s selfish, controlling attitude and the way she manipulated other people, had no bearing on her fate. For the misfit was even more selfish and controlling than she was.