The Self-Deception of Self-Righteousness Essay

767 Words 4 Pages
The Bible gives a profound warning about self-righteousness. "If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. (I John 1:8). Flannery O'Connor's short story, A Good Man Is Hard to Find (1953), provokes the reader to consider the issue of grace and righteousness. The main character in the story, the grandmother, believes that in her day "people did right" (386) and certainly in her mind, she was foremost the righteous of all. In analyzing the actions of the grandmother, insight is gained about her attitudes and values. It becomes evident by the end of the story that her deliberate choices of dress, her subtle remarks of social prejudices, and her clever methods of manipulation lead her to an awareness of her …show more content…
Definitely, there is no power in her outer appearance to save her (394).

Next, no righteous person will admit to being prejudiced. The grandmother in O'Connor's story would never (willingly) admit that she esteems one group of people better then another. The comment, "Tennessee is a hillbilly dumping ground" made by her grandson, John Wesley, serves only as evidence of the prejudiced environment to which he is exposed. And of course, the grandmother is an influential part of that environment. In reprimanding the boy, her only concern about his statement is that the child is being disrespectful to Tennessee, not the fact of calling a person a "hillbilly". As the family enjoys the scenery while driving along, they observe a "cute little pickninny" standing unclad in the doorway of a shack. The grandmother thinks this to be simply entertainment and doesn't identify with the plight of the downtrodden and impoverished. She makes sure the children understand that it is common knowledge that "little niggers" don't have things like she does but they, "little niggers", can surely make good pictures. And if she could paint, she would certainly paint them. (386) Fate very quickly brings the grandmother to the realization that social class doesn't matter when death knocks. The grandmother was quick to remind the Misfit that she is a "lady"; however, that doesn't impress him. He shoots her three times. (394)

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