Living this sort of life proved to be fatal for the Grandmother in Flannery O’Connor’s A Good Man Is Hard to Find. The Grandmother’s religious hypocracy caused her to corrupt the thoughts of her grandchildren, manipulate events onto a negative path, and ultimately cause the death of her and her family. Studies done by the National Child Study indicate that children’s views are larely shaped by “caregiver/child interactions throught childhood”(“Measuring”). John Wesley and June Star’s mother and father seem to be very passive and quiet with thier views.
In comparison, the Grandmother is outspoken, opinionated, and presents herself as a religiously knowledgable, and there for trustworthy, person. The children seem to have picked up on her racist views as their normally argumentitive resopnses are absent when she makes condesending comments about an ovbiously poor “Negro child standing in the door of a shack”(O’connor) they pass on their trip. The impression of the grandmother’s views into the children is also aparent when, rather than being appalled at her racist story about a suitor bringing her watermelon, “this story tickled John Wesley’s funny bone and he giggled and giggled”(O’connor).
Also, June Star shows signs of the same materialistic shelfishness of the Grandmother when she states that she “wouldn’t marry a man that just brought her a watermelon on Saturday”(O’connor). The grandmother replies that she wishes she would have married him because he “had died only a few years ago, a very wealthy man” (O’connor), as if wealth is the most important factor in deciding whom to marry. Nearly everytime the chirdren speak their comments reak of the condescending, corrupt influence of their grandmother.
Had the Grandmother put more emphasis on actually practicing Christian values than just appearing to be a godly person she would not have had the relaxed attitutte towards lying which led her to her death. Fearing her cat ,Pitty Sing , “might brush against one of her gas burners and accidentally asphyxiate himself”(O’connor), she sneaks the cat into the car. She knows that her son Bailey has good reason for not wanting the cat to accompany them on the trip and would not allow it, but this does not stop her. The Grandmother later tells a story to the children about a plantation she used to visit when she was younger.
She believes he house to be a little way down a dirt road they passed on the highway. She begins to have a burning, almost childish, desire to revisit this landmark and so lies to the children. Knowing it will manipulate the children into helping her persuade their parents to visit the house, she tells them “there was a secret:-panel in this house”(O’connor) which “all the family silver was hidden in”(O’connor). As expected, the children begin whining untill their father, Bailey, agrees to make a “one and only time”(O’connor) exception to the trip itenerary and visit the plantation.
The Grandmother’s deception leads to Bailey wrecking the car. The cat becomes statled leaps onto his neck, causing him to jerk the wheel in firght and lead the car into a ditch. Due to the Grandmother’s lack of morals, the family is left helpless and injured on the side of a near abandoned road. As exzibited in devout priests, nuns, and missionaries, selflessness is highly valued in Christianity. The Grandmother would like for people to think of her as a selfless christian role model, but her actions prove her to be quite the opposite.
Before the family sets out on the trip she attempts to manupulate them into going to Tennessee instead of Florida. She actually wants to go visit some old friends in her former home state, but she attempts to scare the family into changing their destionation. Had she not been so selfish, she would not have so clearly noted and remembered that “The Misfit is aloose from the Federal Pen and headed toward Florida”(O’connor), and therefor would not have clearly recognized him when he stops to help the family later in the story.
The Misfit made the decision to kill the family in order to cover his tracks only after the grandmother verbalized that she identified him. Her selfish attitude kept her from realizing that it was likely not in her families best interest to blurt out this realizatioin. It clearly shows that even in the most dire of situatioins no one else’s well being was even close to the forfront of her toughts. The Gandmother’s pattern of selfishness is not cohearent with her claimed Christian ties, and unwittingly led her and her family to be massacred.
The politition who claims everyone should be “green” in order to save the planet but continues to travel in a private jet, The religious leader who preaches meantal purity and is found to have a drug habit, or even the parent who tells their child “do as I say, not as I do”; hypocracy in all forms has its victims. O’Connor was known to be a devout Roman Cathloic and likely resented people who, like the Grandmother in this story, were good at pretending to be religious but had no actual commitment. Unfortuantly for the Grandmother her first selfless act came to late.