Saturday, September 6, 2014

The grandmother-Violence as the vehicle of Grace

As the story, A Good Man is Hard to Find, by Flannery O'Conner opens the character of the grandmother has a very immature understanding of her Christian principles.  Her idea of who and what are "good" is childish.  Starting with idea that clothes identify who you are, she dresses a certain way to car trip because as she says, " In case of an accident, anyone seeing her dead on the highway would know at once that she was a lady."  Later, as the family are in the car she tells her grandchildren about Mr Teagarden.  She says she should have married him because he was a gentleman and he ended up being very wealthy. She believes that manners and money make a person good.  Then, as the family sits in the Tower restaurant the grandmother and Red Sammy have a discussion about how terrible the world is today.  Both look at the world in a shallow and superficial way. The grandmother says," People are certainly not nice like they used to be."  Her judgement about her fellow man directly contradicts her Christian principles.  As they leave the restaurant, and continue on their journey the grandmother talks her son into making the fateful detour to see the plantation. Once again it is for a very childish reason-she wants to get her way. And she uses that lie about hidden treasure to con them into going.  After the car accident the grandmother initially is trying to plead for her life by saying to the misfit, "Listen," the grandmother almost screamed, "I know you're a good man.  You don't look a bit like you have common blood. I know you must come from nice people."  She is still of the belief that good and bad are defined by bloodline and family.  It is not until moments before her death that she receives the grace to see the misfit as he is seen by God. She has an epiphany, "...the grandmother's head cleared for an instant."  At that moment, staring directly into the face of evil, she is able to see the humanness in everyone. All humanity are God's children.  The last words she utters are, "Why you're one of my babies.  You're one of my own children!"  Is the only way to know who and what we are truly made of through a dramatic or violent situation?  Does God's grace come to us in more subtle ways?

1 comment:

  1. You bring up some really great points! I love that you talk about the idea of "good blood" - these were lines that I struggled to understand fully and now I think I have a much better understanding. When she says, "Why you're one of my babies. You're one of my own children!" she touchs him for the first time and that breaks his wall finally. I'm reminded of the biblical stories where people have to physically be touched or touch Jesus to truly believe/be healed etc. People who even see Jesus' miracles or hear him speak aren't moved or healed until they touch his robe or receive his blessing. The Misfit doesn't crack once until she does this and then loses control and immediately shoots her. Once she's dead he recovers, but in that moment, she has the upper hand on him. Her faith is her control.