Flannery O’Connor wrote A Good Man is Hard to Find in third person and changes gracefully to second person using the Grandmother’s point of view and later “The Misfit’s”. O’Connor is successful in creating a Southern world from the 1950’s, with a traditional middle class American family, by changing points of view throughout this story. The Grandmother is the main focus of this work, starting at the beginning, “The Grandmother didn’t want to go to Florida.” and has her speak in second person, throughout this work, “Now look here, Bailey,” she said, “see here, read this.” The Grandmother manipulates her son not to visit Florida, but to visit places she wants to visit to see her “connections”. She does this by chatting about an escaped criminal, called “The Misfit“, who supposedly is on his way to Florida.
Most of the action and reactions are from the Grandmother’s third person point of view, for example, “She sat in the middle of the back seat…” and “she thought it would be interesting to say how many miles they had been when they got back.” She is a backseat driver cautioning her son, “that the speed limit was fifty-five miles an hour and that the patrolmen hid themselves behind billboards and small clumps of trees and sped out after you before you had a chance to slow down.”
O’Conner uses the Grandmother very self-centered character’s point of view, to demonstrate how flawed, self-centered, racist, and judgmental this character actually is, “Aren’t you ashamed? “she hisses; “People are certainly not nice like they used to be”; and “In my time, children were more respectful of their native states and their parents and everything else. People did right then. Oh, look at the cute little pickaninny!”
Additionally, by using the third person, the author demonstrates that all of the characters are selfish and are completely ignoring each other. For example, when the Grandmother speaks to her son, he “didn’t look up from his reading” of the sport pages; the children’s mother “didn’t seem to hear her”; the children are busy “reading the funny papers on the floor” or comic books in the car.
Also, we find out in third person, that the Grandmother is actually completely responsible for the accident and getting everyone killed. “It’s not far from here, I know,” the grandmother tells her son “It wouldn’t take over twenty minutes,” even though she later realizes that they are in the wrong state, but doesn’t say anything. It is her hidden cat, that she was forbidden to bring, that escapes from the box and causes the accident. When the Grandmother recognizes and identifies the killer, and says, “You’re the Misfit!”, the family’s fate is sealed.