Psychoanalytic Critique A Good Man is Hard to Find

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PsychoanalyticCritique: A Good Man is Hard to Find

PsychoanalyticCritique: A Good Man Is Hard to Find

FlanneryO’Connor is a renowned American Southern female writer. A closerlook at her short story,A Good Man is Hard to Findreveals that most characters have unusual personalities. In AGood Man is Hard to Find, O’Connortells the story of how a seemingly innocent vacation turns into adisaster because each person cares about him/herself. The maincharacter in the short story is the grandmother who is depicted as aself-absorbed person whose only concerns is her feelings, and has noregard for the views and welfare of the other members of her family. Everything that occurs in the story is as a result of herunwillingness to consider other people’s needs and desires. Forinstance, she calls the Misfit a good man even though he has killedher children and children. It is evident that the grandmother hasunderdeveloped ego and superego as she only engages in actions thatachieve pressure a phenomenon witnessed only in children. This paperemploys the Sigmund Freud’s psychoanalytical theory to analyze thecharacters of the grandmother and argues that she got fixated at theid stage.

Asthe story begins, the audiences are introduced to the grandmother whowants to go to Tennessee while her family wishes to visit Florida.She would do anything to ensure that she get what she wants. Shetries every trick to ensure that the family does not go to Florida.For instance, she makes the family believes that if they do notfollow her advice, they will end up getting in the way of themischief. Additionally, she shows to her son Bailey a newspaperarticle that tells the story of a criminal who has escaped fromprison and who is believed to be going towards Florida. Besides, JuneStar comments that her grandmother “wouldn’t stay at home to bequeen for a day” (O`Connor,1953,5). This quote informs the audience that the grandmother behaves likea child she wants to go everywhere the other members of her familygoes. Besides, she regrets not marrying Mr. Teagarden because he had“bought Coca-Cola stock when it first comes out…” (O`Connor,1953, 6).Even when she was younger, she judged people by their social statusthe same way a child would do. She never thought that there isanything more that people can offer apart from gifts. As such, onecan conclude that she is a child trapped in an old person’s body.

Sheintends to visit an old plantation but she does not want Bailey tothink that she wants to go there. As such, she comes up with a planin which she uses the children as a means of achieving what shewants. She even initiates conflicts between her children in order toachieve her desires.June Star laments and whines desperately whenBailey fails to stop for the children to see the old plantation. Shecomplains that “they could not do what they wanted to do”(O`Connor,1953, 10). It is evident that the grandmother is fixated in the id stage anddoes not proceed to the ego and superego stages. First, she causesthe accident by having a cat disrupt Bailey as he drives but does notseek to admit her guilt. Instead, she fakes injuries in order for theother members of her family to feel pity for her. She was “curledup under the dashboard hoping she was injured so that Bailey’swrath could not come down at her all at once” (O`Connor,1953, 11).When she does not receive the attention that she so desperately wantsshe fakes even more serious injuries as she says, “I believe I haveinjured an organ (O`Connor,1953, 12).If her ego was fully developed, the grandmother`s major concernswould be to ensure that none of her children and grandchildren is ininjured during the accident. Besides, the superego would haveinformed her that apologizing to her entire family for causing theaccident is the acceptable way of handling the incident.

Eventhe Misfit does not manage to trigger the grandmother to employ herego to try and save her family. The ego is supposed to manage the idby informing a person that other people have feelings too. Thenarrator says, “The grandmother reached up to adjust her hat brimas if she was going to the woods with him but it came off in her hand(O`Connor,1953, 17).Even when the Misfit has ordered the killing of her entire family,she does not show her hatred towards him as this would provoke him tobe violent against her. Instead, she continues soothing him.

Thegrandmother even reaches out to the misfit as a way of showing herunderstanding of why he is being cruel to innocent people. If thesuperego was controlling the grandmother`s action she would havecondemned the Misfit for killing innocent children. Additionally, shecould not have allowed the monster to separate her from her children.As the senior most member of the family, she would have asked theMisfit to kill her first, particularly because she is the one whosinglehandedly caused the accident.Even in her death, thegrandmother is still controlled by id as seen in the way she dieswith her legs crossed under her like a child’s(O`Connor, 1953, 18).The statement paints the image of a harmless and innocent person whois awaiting protection.

Inconclusion, the grandmother in the O’Connor’s story,A Good Man is Hard to Find,demonstrates the effects of an adult being controlled by id. From thebeginning of the story, she only thinks about herself. What otherpeople wants is the least of her concerns. For instance, she insiststhat they should go to Tennessee even if she does not have anygenuine reason why the family should agree with her. Secondly, whenthey are involved in an accident she does not seek to take the blame.Instead, she wants sympathy even if she was the least injured. Eventhe Misfit does succeed in making the grandmother realize that otherpeople have needs too. This is seen in the way the misfit orders theexecution of her family yet she continues persuading him to spare herlife. If she was being controlled by ego, the grandmother could havepleaded with the Misfit to spare her family even if that meantkilling her.


O`Connor,F. (1953). A Good Man is Hard to Find. Accessed on March 27, 2017.