Study Guide

A Good Man is Hard to Find Manipulation

By Flannery O'Connor

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Flannery O'Connor understood her story "A Good Man is Hard to Find" as a tale of good, evil, and divine grace. Other critics, however, have seen in it something more cynical. Many see it as the story of a selfish woman who uses manipulation to get what she wants, but is ultimately unable to save herself by her acts. There are several moments in the story when the grandmother manipulates others, including her family members and the criminal. An interesting question is whether she ever stops manipulating, and if so, when.

Questions About Manipulation

  1. Is the grandmother an unusually manipulative person, or is her behavior fairly understandable? Why?
  2. In her confrontation with The Misfit, does the grandmother use purposeful, calculating manipulation, or is her attempt to save her own life desperate and not thought-out?
  3. Does the grandmother ever stop trying to manipulate The Misfit? At what point? How can you tell?
  4. Is the grandmother's moment of grace actually just another manipulation? Is The Misfit fooled by it?

Chew on This

The grandmother never stops trying to manipulate The Misfit, and is stopped only when he kills her.

The grandmother's attempts to save her life are desperate from the beginning, and can hardly be considered deliberate manipulation.

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