“A Good Man is Hard to Find” by Flannery O’Connor opens with a scene of a grandmother in the kitchen with her son, Bailey, and his family, which consists of a wife who wears slacks and a kerchief around her hair while she feeds a young baby as well as two children; a young boy and girl named John Wesley (which oddly enough is the name of the founder of the Methodist religion) and June Star. The family is preparing to go to Florida on vacation but the grandmother is insistent that they go to Tennessee instead. She is ignored by the family and no one seems to value her opinion. It is clear that she is trying to weasel her way into getting her wish but none of them are falling for it.
The grandmother mentions that there is a fugitive on the loose called the Misfit and that they might run into him if they go to Florida but again, this line of reasoning has no effect on them. They tell her she just shouldn’t go if she doesn’t want to go to Florida but they all know that she wouldn’t miss a trip for the world. “The next morning the grandmother was the first one in the car, ready to go. She had her big black valise that looked like the head of a hippopotamus in one corner and underneath it she was hiding a basket with Pitty Sing, the cat, in it” (12). It is becoming clear already that this grandmother is not only manipulative and a little child-like, she is also rather high maintenance. This becomes more clear as the plot of “A Good Man is Hard to Find” further unravels. For her travels, for instance, she is wearing white cotton gloves, a fancy hat, and a dress with fake flowers all over it whereas in contrast, her daughter-in-law is wearing the same slacks and still has her hair tied up.
The grandmother sits in the back seat between the two older children while the baby is up front on the mother’s lap (isn’t that a sign of the times?). The two children prattle on about how Georgia is a boring state, even as they pass by Stone Mountain and the red and purple rocks. The grandmother tells them about Tennessee, but according to young John Wesley, “Tennessee is just a hillbilly dumping ground” (13). The grandmother is appalled by this statement and begins talking about how children were more respectful of their home states. Just then, they pass by a little black boy standing by the road with no pants on.