There are many families that want to be better than others. Showing-off is the main way of existence for them. Since their family’s outer look is their principal concern, they tend to ignore the drawbacks in the relationships between themselves. One can find a vivid example of such a family in the short story “A Good Man Is Hard to Find” by Flannery O’Connor. ‘The grandmother’, the ruler of this family, lives by a prejudice that it is very hard to find a good man in the world. Moreover, she believes that only she deserves this role. By the example of the grandmother, the story reveals which “skeleton in the closet” may be found in the life of those who look perfectly morally good at first glance.
At first, the family depicted in “A Good Man Is Hard to Find” appears to be a perfect example to follow. The grandmother wants to save her son’s family from a possible threat of a criminal named The Misfit. Due to this goal, she changes the direction of their journey. In addition, she provides the family with continuous moral lessons. One of them deals with the importance of nationality and racial equality, “Little niggers in the country don’t have things like we do” (O’ Connor 4). In addition, she tries to instill in children a good taste and importance of remaining a lady under any circumstance. “In case of an accident, anyone seeing her dead on the highway would know at once that she was a lady” (O’ Connor 3). On the other hand, if to read the short story between the lines and understand the irony, it becomes clear that the positive features are only an attempt to create a perfect look for others and hide the inner drawbacks.
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First, the biggest drawback of the family is the absence of collaboration between its members. The grandmother seizes all the responsibility for the family’s life and does not provide her son and his wife with an opportunity to create their fate by their own. A vivid example is the episode when the grandmother decides that the family should move to East Tennessee instead of Florida. One can find the proof of the authoritarian and egoistic style of ruling in this family in the first lines of the short story, “She [grandmother] wanted to visit some of her connections in east Tennessee and she was seizing at every chance to change Bailey’s mind” (O’Connor 1).
Second, the other disadvantage is the lack of respect among the members of the family. If to analyze the relationships between them, it becomes clear that no one respects the feelings of others. For example, the grandmother criticizes her daughter-in-law for narrow-mindedness. She treats her as the main obstacle which prevents the grandchildren from broadening their horizons. In addition, the grandmother shows no respect even to the appearance of her daughter-in-law and describes her face as similar to cabbage. Her relations with the son are no different. The grandmother disregards his point of view and thinks that it is not important. An example of it can be the episode when she does not give him the opportunity to express a negative attitude towards his home state Georgia. “If I were a little boy, […] I wouldn’t talk about my native state that way. Tennessee has the mountains and Georgia has the hills” (O’Connor 4). Moreover, children and grandchildren do not treat the grandmother with respect. For example, the son does not want to follow her pieces of advice. He together with his wife have a hidden desire of his mother’s disappearance. Grandchildren like to taunt theirs grandmother’s words. For example, June Star expresses her opinion about the grandmother’s decision to travel to East Tennessee in the following way: “She wouldn’t stay at home for a million bucks […] Afraid she’d miss something. She has to go everywhere we go” (O’Connor 2).
Finally, there is no place for tender feelings such as love and support in this family. Spirituality and perfect relations exist only outside of this family as a way of showing-off, but not inside. The clearest example of it is the culmination of the short story “A Good Man Is Hard to Find.” When the grandmother feels the real danger from the criminal Misfit, she does not want to save the lives of her children anymore, but is concentrated only on her own salvation. It does not disturb her that The Misfit kills all her relatives one by one. She strongly believes that a moral life and status of a true lady will save her from any difficulties. Such ignorance towards the fate of the dearest and nearest relatives is described in the quotation, “You’ve got good blood! I know you wouldn’t shoot a lady!” (O’Connor 21).
To sum up, “A Good Man Is Hard to Find” depicts all families who want to look morally perfect from the outer point of view but not the inner one with irony. On the example of Bailey’s family, it becomes clear that the common problems of such families are the absence of collaboration, respect and tender feelings. That is why good families should creat the positive look with the help of favorable relationships between relatives but not “empty” lessons and pieces of advice that are not supported by actions.