The short story, “A Good Man is Hard to Find,” represents symbolism which leaves the readers of Flannery O’Conner’s work with many images and ideas of what he really means. O”Conner grew up in the south in Savannah and Milledgeville Georgia and believes the most important influences on her life were “being a Catholic and a Southerner and a writer.” (Discovering Literature 318) Her early life explains why she writes about the south in this story and provides symbolism between the grandmother and the Old South. The grandmother represents the Old South with her knowledge of historic homes and wanting respect. Because she is the oldest of the vacationers, the grandmother is an opinionated woman whom tries to control every situation.
People who grew up in the Old South are very educated about historic homes and the history of their native state which influences old southerners to become more interested in sight seeing places of this character. In the beginning of the story the grandmother is trying to persuade her son and his family of traveling to East Tennessee rather than Florida. She supports her idea by telling her son, Bailey, that East Tennessee will be more educational for the children since they have never vacationed there before. Later in the story when they are traveling to Florida she mentions a plantation she knew and expressed interest in taking a short detour to see the home. The grandmother again wants to educate the children of the plantation and mentions some of the qualities of the home such as the “beautiful glass in the front door way and the candle lamp in the hall,” although the kids were more interested in the secret panel that she had lied about just to get their attention.
Eating breakfast and reading the paper, a southern family is preparing to depart for their vacation to Florida. Set in northern Georgia in the mid 1950 s, on a summer day (the children are at home, so it is a good possibility they are out of school for their summer break) when conflict begins to set in over the planned final destination of a vacation. The setting eventually progresses to a dirt ...
Another characteristic that the grandmother has that represents the Old South is her morals and values of respect. She comes on very strong with this important issue when the young boy, John Wesley, ordered to go through Georgia fast so that he wouldn’t have to look at it much. The remark the boy made struck the grandmother in the wrong place and came back with “In my time,” said the grandmother, folding her vein fingers, “children were more respectful of their native states and their parents and everything else.” Furthermore a characteristic that is more obvious in the story is with the misfit. The grandmother expresses concern with the misfit after she hears gunshots from the woods and cries “You’ve go blood! I know wouldn’t shoot a lady!” The grandmother expressing that she is a lady and that he would not shoot her is an example of her Old Southern respect.
Because the grandmother is the oldest she tries to control every situation and is more concerned with safety than the rest of the family. The grandmother read in the paper that the misfit had escaped from the federal pen and is headed toward Florida and takes control of this situation by trying to persuade Bailey where to go on vacation. The grandmother tries to take control of the situation with the misfit by talking so much. She is the only person out of the whole family that talks directly to the misfit. She tries to persuade him that he is a good person by telling him things to calm him down.
The grandmother’s character, as an old southern woman played a major role in each of these aspects discussed. Although she meant well her strong opinions and mentality as an authority figure were not the right attributes to deal with a modern day problem like the misfit.