A Good Man is Hard to Find

The Grandmother Character Analysis

The Grandmother is an elderly Southern lady, and Bailey’s mother. She is a naïve woman, despite her age, and seems to only think of herself. Against her son’s wishes, she brings her cat along in the car, ultimately causing the wreck that leads to the family’s deaths. While the rest of the family dresses casually, the Grandmother puts on her best clothing for the trip, including a fancy hat that she believes will ensure she is identified as a proper lady if they get in a car accident and are killed—showing how concerned she is with the appearance of respectability. When speaking with Red Sam Butts, she recites clichés about how much better and simpler things used to be, but when faced with the threat of death by the Misfit she is completely unprepared to face her own mortality. Unable to believe that the Misfit might actually be as amoral as he seems to be, the Grandmother repeatedly insists that he must be good at heart, even as the rest of her family is taken into the woods and executed. At no point does she seem to realize that these are her last seconds alive until she reaches out for the Misfit, in a brief moment of connection, claiming that he too is her son.

The Grandmother Quotes in A Good Man is Hard to Find

The A Good Man is Hard to Find quotes below are all either spoken by The Grandmother or refer to The Grandmother. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Violence and Grace Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Farrar, Strauss and Giroux edition of A Good Man is Hard to Find published in 1971.
A Good Man is Hard to Find Quotes

“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.”

Related Characters: The Grandmother (speaker), Bailey, John Wesley, June Star
Page Number: 117
Explanation and Analysis:

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“You all ought to take them somewhere else for a change so they would see different parts of the world and be broad. They never have been to East Tennessee.”

Related Characters: The Grandmother (speaker), Bailey, Bailey’s Wife (the Mother), John Wesley, June Star
Page Number: 117
Explanation and Analysis:

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“She wouldn’t stay home for a million bucks,” June Star said. “Afraid she’d miss something. She has to go everywhere we go.”

Related Characters: June Star (speaker), The Grandmother
Page Number: 118
Explanation and Analysis:

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Her collars and cuffs were white organdy trimmed with lace and at her neckline she had pinned a purple spray of cloth violets containing a sachet. In case of an accident, anyone seeing her dead on the highway would know at once that she was a lady.

Related Characters: The Grandmother
Related Symbols: The Grandmother’s Hat
Page Number: 118
Explanation and Analysis:

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“Let’s go through Georgia fast so we won’t have to look at it much,” John Wesley said.
“If I were a little boy,” said the grandmother, “I wouldn’t talk about my native state that way. Tennessee has the mountains and Georgia has the hills.”
“Tennessee is just a hillbilly dumping ground,” John Wesley said, “and Georgia is a lousy state too.”

Related Characters: The Grandmother (speaker), John Wesley (speaker)
Page Number: 119
Explanation and Analysis:

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“Oh look at the cute little pickaninny!” she said and pointed to a Negro child standing in the door of a shack. “Wouldn’t that make a picture, now?”

Related Characters: The Grandmother (speaker)
Page Number: 119
Explanation and Analysis:

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The grandmother said she would have done well to marry Mr. Teagarden because he was a gentleman and had bought Coca-Cola stock when it first came out and that he had died only a few years ago, a very wealthy man.

Related Characters: The Grandmother
Page Number: 120
Explanation and Analysis:

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“It’s not much farther,” the grandmother said and just as she said it, a horrible thought came to her. The thought was so embarrassing that she turned red in the face and her eyes dilated and her feet jumped up, upsetting her valise in the corner.

Related Characters: The Grandmother (speaker)
Page Number: 124
Explanation and Analysis:

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The grandmother was curled up under the dashboard, hoping she was injured so that Bailey’s wrath would not come down on her all at once.

Related Characters: The Grandmother, Bailey
Page Number: 125
Explanation and Analysis:

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His face was as familiar to her as if she had known him all her life but she could not recall who he was.

Related Characters: The Grandmother, The Misfit
Page Number: 126
Explanation and Analysis:

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“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!”

Related Characters: The Grandmother (speaker), The Misfit
Page Number: 127
Explanation and Analysis:

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“Nome, I ain’t a good man,” The Misfit said after a second as if he had considered her statement carefully, “but I ain’t the worst in the world neither. My daddy said I was a different breed from my brothers and sisters. ‘You know,’ Daddy said, ‘it’s some that can live their whole life out without asking about it and it’s other has to know why it is, and this boy is one of the latters. He’s going to be into everything!’”

Related Characters: The Misfit (speaker), The Grandmother
Page Number: 128
Explanation and Analysis:

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“I was a gospel singer for a while,” The Misfit said. “I been most everything. Been in the arm service, both land and sea, at home and abroad, been twict married, been an undertaker, been with the railroads, plowed Mother Earth, been in a tornado, seen a man burnt alive oncet . . . I even seen a woman flogged.”

Related Characters: The Misfit (speaker), The Grandmother
Page Number: 129
Explanation and Analysis:

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“I never was a bad boy that I remember of,” The Misfit said in an almost dreamy voice, “but somewhere along the line I done something wrong and got sent to the penitentiary. I was buried alive.”

Related Characters: The Misfit (speaker), The Grandmother
Page Number: 130
Explanation and Analysis:

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“It was a head-doctor at the penitentiary said what I had done was kill my daddy but I known that for a lie. My daddy died in nineteen ought nineteen of the epidemic flu and I never had a thing to do with it.”

Related Characters: The Misfit (speaker), The Grandmother
Page Number: 130
Explanation and Analysis:

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“Well then, why don’t you pray?” she asked trembling with delight suddenly.

“I don’t want no hep,” he said. “I’m doing all right by myself.

Related Characters: The Grandmother (speaker), The Misfit (speaker)
Page Number: 130
Explanation and Analysis:

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“I call myself The Misfit,” he said, “because I can’t make what all I done wrong fit what all I gone through in punishment.”

Related Characters: The Misfit (speaker), The Grandmother
Page Number: 131
Explanation and Analysis:

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There were two more pistol reports and the grandmother raised her head like a parched old turkey hen crying for water and called, “Bailey Boy, Bailey Boy!” as if her heart would break.

Related Characters: The Grandmother (speaker), Bailey
Page Number: 132
Explanation and Analysis:

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Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

“Then it’s nothing for you to do but enjoy the few minutes you got left the best way you can—by killing somebody or burning down his house or doing some other meanness to him. No pleasure but meanness.”

Related Characters: The Misfit (speaker), The Grandmother
Page Number: 132
Explanation and Analysis:

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Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

She saw the man’s face twisted closer to her own as if he were going to cry and she murmured, “Why you’re one of my babies. You’re one of my own children!” She reached out and touched him on the shoulder. The Misfit sprang back as if a snake had bitten him and shot her three times through the chest.

Related Characters: The Grandmother (speaker), The Misfit
Page Number: 132
Explanation and Analysis:

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“She would have been a good woman,” The Misfit said, “if it had been somebody there to shoot her every minute of her life.”

Related Characters: The Misfit (speaker), The Grandmother
Page Number: 133
Explanation and Analysis:

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Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

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The Grandmother Character Timeline in A Good Man is Hard to Find

The timeline below shows where the character The Grandmother appears in A Good Man is Hard to Find. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
A Good Man is Hard to Find
Violence and Grace Theme Icon
Familial Conflict and Familial Love Theme Icon
The story opens on the Grandmother (unnamed), whose family is about to take a trip to Florida. Unlike the rest of... (full context)
Familial Conflict and Familial Love Theme Icon
Moral Decay Theme Icon
Bailey ignores the Grandmother , so she then turns to Bailey’s wife, an innocent-looking woman holding a baby. The... (full context)
Familial Conflict and Familial Love Theme Icon
The next morning, the Grandmother is packed and ready to leave, sitting in the car before anyone else. She has... (full context)
Violence and Grace Theme Icon
Goodness Theme Icon
Familial Conflict and Familial Love Theme Icon
The family leaves in the car, with the Grandmother sitting in the back with John Wesley and June Star. In the front sit Bailey,... (full context)
Goodness Theme Icon
Familial Conflict and Familial Love Theme Icon
Moral Decay Theme Icon
The Grandmother comments on the beautiful scenery, but John Wesley suggests that they “go through Georgia fast... (full context)
Goodness Theme Icon
Familial Conflict and Familial Love Theme Icon
Moral Decay Theme Icon
The Grandmother holds Bailey’s youngest child, the baby. As they pass a graveyard, the Grandmother notes that... (full context)
Goodness Theme Icon
Familial Conflict and Familial Love Theme Icon
Moral Decay Theme Icon
The Grandmother describes herself being courted, when she was younger, by Mr. Edgar Atkins Teagarden, who was... (full context)
Familial Conflict and Familial Love Theme Icon
Moral Decay Theme Icon
...and Red Sam’s wife takes their orders. Bailey’s wife puts music on the jukebox, and the Grandmother asks Bailey if he wants to dance, but he ignores her. Bailey’s wife puts on... (full context)
Goodness Theme Icon
Moral Decay Theme Icon
...wiping his sweaty face, and then says, “These days you don’t know who to trust.” The Grandmother agrees: “People are certainly not nice like they used to be.” Red Sam tells her... (full context)
Violence and Grace Theme Icon
Goodness Theme Icon
Familial Conflict and Familial Love Theme Icon
Moral Decay Theme Icon
The Grandmother asks if Red Sam and his wife have read about the Misfit. Red Sam’s wife... (full context)
Familial Conflict and Familial Love Theme Icon
Moral Decay Theme Icon
The family drives off. The Grandmother tells the others about a plantation nearby that she had visited once when she was... (full context)
Goodness Theme Icon
Punishment and Forgiveness Theme Icon
Familial Conflict and Familial Love Theme Icon
Moral Decay Theme Icon
The Grandmother recounts more details of the house, and John Wesley speculates about the placement of the... (full context)
Violence and Grace Theme Icon
Punishment and Forgiveness Theme Icon
Familial Conflict and Familial Love Theme Icon
...knocked to the floor, Bailey’s wife is thrown out the door clutching her baby, and the Grandmother is thrown into the front seat, her fancy hat partially destroyed. The car has rotated... (full context)
Violence and Grace Theme Icon
Punishment and Forgiveness Theme Icon
Familial Conflict and Familial Love Theme Icon
June Star is disappointed that nobody has been killed. The Grandmother clutches her side, lying when she says, “I believe I have injured an organ.” Nobody... (full context)
Punishment and Forgiveness Theme Icon
Familial Conflict and Familial Love Theme Icon
Moral Decay Theme Icon
The Grandmother has an odd sense that she has met the man with glasses before. His face... (full context)
Violence and Grace Theme Icon
Goodness Theme Icon
Punishment and Forgiveness Theme Icon
Familial Conflict and Familial Love Theme Icon
Moral Decay Theme Icon
As Bailey attempts to explain their situation, the Grandmother interrupts, shouting, “You’re the Misfit!” The man in glasses says that he is the Misfit,... (full context)
Goodness Theme Icon
Familial Conflict and Familial Love Theme Icon
Moral Decay Theme Icon
The Grandmother insists that she knows The Misfit is a “good man” and that she knows he... (full context)
Violence and Grace Theme Icon
Goodness Theme Icon
Punishment and Forgiveness Theme Icon
Familial Conflict and Familial Love Theme Icon
...clothes they had on when they escaped and “borrowed these from some folks we met.” The Grandmother offers an extra shirt from Bailey’s suitcase. (full context)
Goodness Theme Icon
Punishment and Forgiveness Theme Icon
Moral Decay Theme Icon
...got in trouble with the authorities. “You could be honest too if you’d only try,” the Grandmother states, “Think how wonderful it would be to settle down and live a comfortable life... (full context)
Violence and Grace Theme Icon
Goodness Theme Icon
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Two pistol shots are heard from the woods. The Grandmother glances around, shouting “Bailey Boy!” The Misfit speaks, saying that he’s been a gospel singer,... (full context)
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Punishment and Forgiveness Theme Icon
Familial Conflict and Familial Love Theme Icon
Moral Decay Theme Icon
...has not been able to remember what he did wrong to get put in jail. The Grandmother suggests it might have been a mistake, but he says they had paperwork that showed... (full context)
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Familial Conflict and Familial Love Theme Icon
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The Grandmother says that if he prayed, “Jesus would help you.” “That’s right,” the Misfit says. She... (full context)
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The Grandmother is now alone with the Misfit. She wants to tell him to pray, but she... (full context)
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...woods and another shot from a pistol. The Misfit asks if it seems fair to the Grandmother that one person can be punished so much while another is punished so little. The... (full context)
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Familial Conflict and Familial Love Theme Icon
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Two more gunshots ring out from the forest. The Grandmother raises her head and shouts “Bailey Boy!” once again. The Misfit states that only Jesus... (full context)
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Familial Conflict and Familial Love Theme Icon
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...I wouldn’t be like I am now.” His voice almost cracks and for a moment the Grandmother feels her head clear. She says to the Misfit, “Why you’re one of my babies.... (full context)
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Bobby Lee and Hiram return from the woods and look down at the Grandmother ’s body in the ditch. The Misfit tells them to put her body with the... (full context)