"Are you a sinner?" There are many problems in sinning. Purity is the image a person should try to achieve but in Flannery O'Connor's "A Good Man is hard to Find," Grandma is the worse deceiver of all. Her ability to portray a southern bell image allows her to maintain a pure image. Even though grandma is really a liar the chance of redemption lies within her. Although grandma portrays herself as a southern bell, the real grandma is only skin deep away.
One of the key established points is grandma's southern bell image. The grandma is huge on image; on a road trip she wore, "A navy blue dress with small violets on the brim"(O'Connor 2).This was no short road trip either, a trip from Tennessee to Florida. She even wore, "White cotton gloves," (2) and had "...collars and cuffs..." (2). She wanted to make sure that if she is in an accident; the cops would know for certain she is a woman. She must have spent hours preparing her southern bell image no telling how much money it cost to put it on.
Once she is ready for the road trip she heads outside. She is the very first person in the car; just like a southern bell should be. The grandma's public image follows the values of a southern bell. She is a Christian woman who cares about money and also likes gentlemen who are respectful, rich, and have status.
Despite the fact that grandma portrays her southern bell image to society; in actuality she is really a liar. While grandma and the rest of the family are on the road, they see a little African American boy. As soon as they family sees it, they are sad because the boy has no clothes on, but grandma remarks, "look at the cute little pickaninny!"(2) which is an extremely racist remark. Then if looking at the boy and calling him a "...pickaninny!"(2)is not enough she then adds insult to injury by later asking, "Wouldn't that make a picture, now?"(2) Grandma must want a picture on her wall at home just to be racist. Then it gets dreadfully worse because grandma begins to use her racist views as an explanation; "Little niggers in the country don't have things like we do" (2). Later on in the trip, grandma lies to the children claiming, "There was a secret panel," (5) in an old plantation house she visited as a kid. She wanted to go there again so, she picks up her metaphoric daggers, which were the children's complains, to persuade Bailey to turn around. This shows how warped her morels are; someone definitely needs sit her down and explain what she is doing wrong, like the child she is. Her real values are the opposite of a real southern bell's values.
Finally grandma's awful image is put to the test by the Misfit. The Misfit is a good man. He "was a gospel singer for a while," (10). Which shows he believed in God and had loving faith once before. He talks politely by saying, "Yes'm" (11). For someone who is sent to jail and as an escaped convict he is pretty polite, like a true gentleman. He has even served our great country's military, "both land and sea" (10) and plus he has been "twice married" (10). The only reason why the Misfit broke out of jail because he claims he was falsely imprisoned and he said, "Turn...right, it was wall." (10) and "Turn...left, it was a wall. Look up it was a ceiling." (10) While in jail, the Misfit lost his faith in God. He claims that God messed up the world by bring people back to life, invert-inly throwing everything off balance. Due to the fact that grandma recognized he was the Misfit, his friends where taking the family out back and killing them. The grandma was the last one to go which created a redemption moment for the grandma to repent all of her racist remarks and lies she loved to say.
Ultimately grandma begins to pray for her life. For a mere instant grandma sees the light. She sees her wrong doings and "pray[s]," (10) grandma has hope. She has an epiphany "If you pray Jesus would help you"(10). She begins to become pure at her heart and soul. For the first time in her life, most likely , she begins to feel expressions of love, such as sympathy and empathy. The Misfit's gun creates a dominate image over her which allows her to save herself. After the grandma prays for a short while, she achieves the ultimate purity by saying, "Why you're one of my babies. You're one of my own children" (12) which is also the cause of her impending death to occur. This and her previous recent actions allow her to become pure and a true southern bell, too bad it took death to do it.
In Flannery O'Connor's story "A Good Man is hard to Find," grandma is the most pathetic lying racist. Grandma felt the need to do this because no one ever forced her to reexamine her life. Through dramatic interfere by the Misfit on grandma's life, it allowed her to do some soul searching and become a true southern bell. Although she suffered dramatic emotional stress through this process, the grandma eventually discoverers God through an epiphany the Misfit helped her realize.
Work Cited Note:
The page numbers next to the sentence represent page numbers from the original story.