March 21, 2018
A Good Person Can Be Hard to Find
In “A Good Man is Hard to Find” by Flannery O’Connor, a grandmother uses her manipulative ways to try to get what she wants out of any situation. This later leads to her death and the death of her only son, Bailey, and his family at the hands of the Misfit and his goons. Sigmund Freud believe that everyone has an id, ego, and a superego that all pitch into how they act and live on a daily basis. The grandmother is an id driven person based on her selfish and manipulative ways as she tries to control the people around her. In the story she tried to change Bailey’s mind to go to Tennessee instead of Florida, she takes her cat on the trip secretly by stashing the cat in her purse, and she manipulates her grandchildren into convincing her son to take an alternate route.
The grandmother first shows her id driven personality when she attempts to convince Bailey into changing his mind about going to Florida. She wants to go to Tennessee to visit some old friends and she uses the Misfit to try to worry him, ” I wouldn’t take my children in any direction with a criminal like that aloose in it. I couldn’t answer to my conscience if I did.” (O’Connor 2). She uses this to try to scare or in a sense manipulate Bailey into being fearful of going to Florida. Even after this attempt, Bailey is unshook and does not pay any attention to his mother. This shows that he is already used to his mother’s shananogins when she is attempting to get what she wants whenever she wants. This clearly shows how she is driven by her id to please herself by always getting what she wants by doing anything to get her way. She used the Misfit to threaten Bailey. “She is determined to coerce her son to take the family on vacation to Tennessee rather than Florida… she does not hesitate to dangle before his eyes the horrifying prospect of his children’s death”(Bandy). Stephen C. Bandy, claims that the grandmother is dangling the thought of her grandchildren being killed by the Misfit in front of Bailey’s eyes. Even in the beginning of the story the grandmother quickly shows how she would do anything to get what she pleases and in this case, going to Tennessee rather than Florida would make her very happy.
While that is not her only attempt to get or do what she wants, the next morning she is waiting in the car for everyone as she has her cat hidden in her bag, “underneath it she was hiding a basket with Pitty Sing, the cat, in it.” (O’Connor 7). She is hiding her cat because Bailey did not want his mother bringing the cat on the road trip, but since the grandmother does what she pleases she ignored his wish and does as she wants. This the backfires later on in the story which then puts her family and herself in danger. The grandmother stays persistent throughout the story, she continues to get the family into trouble while trying to control them into getting what she wants. Bandy claims that the grandmother continuously has petty acts throughout the story, “Profoundly dishonest, she stops at nothing to have her way. Against Bailey’s orders, she has smuggled her cat”. Bandy believes that the grandmother is petty in the way that she acts by bringing her cat along on the trip, but I believe it is her id that is causing her to be petty. Her id is driving her to continuously act this way to make sure she is always getting what she pleases.
The final straw with her manipulative ways ends when she claims she remembers an old house. The grandmother claims she remembers an old house that she would visit when she was a young lady. Attempting to get a feeling of nostalgia, being in the past again where everything was much simpler. This leads to the grandmother’s cat clawing Bailey’s shoulder and then causing them to crash. The grandmother knows she has done wrong and that she is to blame for the accident and she then attempts to get out of it hoping Bailey would not let all of is anger out on her by saying, “"I believe I have injured an organ," said the grandmother, pressing her side, but no one answered her.”(O’Connor 19). She attempts to take some of the attention off the fact that she caused the accident whether if it was because she manipulated her grandchildren into getting Bailey to go down to find the old house. She could also be to blame for bringing her cat along when Bailey did not want to see her cat at all on their trip to Florida. The way that she chooses to just bring along her cat and then manipulating her grandchildren so that she can get what she wants just shows how selfish she is and how she would do whatever she could to get what she wants. Then soon after the family watches as a beaten up car pulls up to their car and looks to help them when the grandmother notices that one of the men is the Misfit. She then nails the final nail in her family’s coffin when she tells him that she knows who he is. Bandy states that, “But the Misfit has at least this advantage over the Grandmother: he knows who he is. And worse for her, he knows who she is.” So in fact the Misfit knows who she is while she does not even know who she is, while unlike her the Misfit knows what he is, he knows he is a criminal, while the grandmother does not. The grandmother does not know who she truly is because she is so id driven that it has taken over her personality and who she really is, which is a selfish and manipulative person.
In conclusion, when personalities are driven by the id or superego rather than the ego, things could end up going badly. Freud believed that the ego balanced the two which is why the ego is looked at being the regulator of the two and keeping one of them from taking over the person’s personality, much like what happened to the grandmother.
Bandy, Stephen C. ;’One Of My Babies’: The Misfit and the Grandmother.; Short
Story Criticism, edited by Janet Witalec, vol. 61, Gale, 2003.
O’ Connor, Flannery. “A Good Man is Hard to Find and Other Stories”. Harcourt