Who Is The Protagonist In A Good Man Is Hard To Find?

Updated 30 September, 2023
The protagonist of Flannery O’Connor’s short story “A Good Man Is Hard to Find” is grandmother. Throughout the story, the grandma is portrayed as being caring and frivolous; however, when taking a deeper look at her, one may see that the grandma is actually a character who is selfish and sly.
Detailed answer:

The short story “A Good Man Is Hard to Find” shows a typical family going on vacation with their grandmother to Florida and the trouble they encounter with the infamous outlaw the Misfit. Ultimately, the story revolves around the family's central character, the grandmother. Described physically in the opening paragraphs of the story the grandmother is seen wearing garments that do not match the rest of the family's fashion. Wearing a “big black valise” with “white cotton gloves” and “navy blue dress with a small white dot in the print” she dresses to impress everyone even in “case of an accident, anyone seeing her dead on the highway would know at once that she was a lady”.
The general aura O’Connor gives about the grandmother radiates a snobby, picky, and bossy old lady who is to be respected. Readers quickly understand that the grandmother is from the deep south through her use of dialogue, dress, and vocabulary. The grandmother uses words such as “britches” a southern word for pants the n-word and other commonly derogatory terms and beliefs hailing from the deep south followed by closed-minded ideologies about plantations. The broken English and accents displayed by O’Connor through the character dialogue between the Misfit and the grandmother such as the Misfit's use of “Nome” and the grandmother's misspelling of spoken words are supposed to give effect to the southern feel of the family. These elements combine to allow the reader to understand the grandmother's personality and struggles which leads her to the jurisdiction of the Misfit.
As the reader follows the story it becomes obvious that the grandmother is pretentious, snobby, rude, ignorant, and distasteful. The grandmother's selfhood is revealed to herself only after she understands that “telling others about ourselves depends on what we think they think we ought to be like”. By using the grandmother in a way that shows innocence, yet guilt O’Connor can connect the tale with that of finding selfhood.

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