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A Good Man Is Hard to Find | Study Guide

Flannery O'Connor

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A Good Man Is Hard to Find | Character Analysis


The grandmother

The grandmother is judgmental and selfish. She longs for a time when she thinks things were better. This sentiment is expressed when she speaks with Red Sammy Butts. She lives with her son, Bailey, and his family and is often critical of them. While she makes some attempts to engage with the family, they show little interest and little respect for her. Her judgments of them leave them uninterested in her and her opinions. When the family is approached by The Misfit, the grandmother is concerned about her own safety and shows little care for Bailey and his family. The grandmother performs one genuine act of concern in the story, and it is her last action.

The Misfit

The Misfit is a violent, escaped convict. He is a man of contradictions. Despite his background, he blushes from embarrassment when Bailey uses foul language. While instructing Hiram and Bobby Lee to take family members away to be killed, he apologizes for not wearing a shirt. He compliments his parents, yet he killed his father. He acknowledges killing his father, but he does not take complete responsibility for his actions. He compares himself to Jesus, but says he does not believe. He gets into a soul-searching philosophical discussion with the grandmother, but after shooting her he says she could have been a good woman if she were threatened with death every minute of her life.


Bailey, the grandmother's son, is frustrated. He says little to the other characters including his children. He is not interested in what they want and only gives in to visit the plantation because he can't stand their whining. He is a follower and shows no original thought. Bailey tries to talk to The Misfit and his gang but is unsuccessful. He shows interest in his mother only when he is being taken away, and then seems to hope that she will somehow make things better. When disaster strikes he is in over his head and does nothing to save his family.

The children's mother

The children's mother hardly speaks in the story. She is not given a name, to signify that her only purpose is to look after the children. In contrast to the grandmother and Bailey, she is selfless. Her life revolves around her children. She is particularly concerned about the baby and is always holding him. When she realizes her husband and older son have been killed, she chooses death.

June Star

June Star is a rude little girl and is ready to say anything to anybody. Her rudeness is on full display in exchanges with her grandmother, Red Sammy Butts's wife, and The Misfit. When The Misfit orders the family around, she speaks up. She does not respect her elders or recognize the severity of the situation. Like her brother she longs for adventure and cheers the accident, but she is disappointed when no one dies.

John Wesley

John Wesley is a precocious young boy who is interested in adventure. He feels bored and is excited when the grandmother suggests visiting the plantation because of the secret panel that hides riches. He is neither intimidated by nor particularly interested in adults. He can be obnoxious and violent: he fights with his sister and ferociously kicks Bailey's car seat.

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