"There was a secret:-panel in this house," she said craftily, not telling the truth but wishing that she were, "and the story went that all the family silver was hidden in it when Sherman came through but it was never found . . ." A Good Man Is Hard To Find by Flannery O'Connor

The tone of this story is Gothic, with its frequent intimations of the grotesque and the violent. But that is not the genre that the grandmother fantasizes about; she wants to inhabit a romance, with secret panels and hidden treasures—-a much more pleasant and benign world to live in.

Of course there is also an illusion to General Sherman, whose march through the South definitively ended slavery and the old way of life. The silver was allegedly hidden to save it from being expropriated by the Union Army. The family, then, is going in search of a lost treasure that is synonymous with the Old South itself.

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Outside of Toombsboro she woke up and recalled an old plantation that she had visited in this neighborhood once when she was a young lady. She said the house had six white columns across the front and that there was an avenue of oaks leading up to it and two little wooden trellis arbors on either side in front where you sat down with your suitor after a stroll in the garden. A Good Man Is Hard To Find by Flannery O'Connor

Again, the grandmother’s desire to be a proper “lady” is mixed up with her views on race—-it is the plantation (recall her earlier allusion to the plantation romance Gone With the Wind), with its degraded blacks and its valorization of white girlhood, that allowed her to feel like a true “lady” despite her rather questionable class position.

And of course it is this story that will finally doom her family, as they go in search of this mythical plantation, and so it is more than a bit relevant that she wakes up to tell it just outside of “Toombs"boro.

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He and the grandmother discussed better times. The old lady said that in her opinion Europe was entirely to blame for the way things were now. She said the way Europe acted you would think we were made of money and Red Sam said it was no use talking about it, she was exactly right. A Good Man Is Hard To Find by Flannery O'Connor

On the surface, this is a curious statement; the reference is to the Marshall Plan and the immense sums spent on Europe by the United States to help rebuild it after the war (and to prevent it from going Communist). It makes sense that poor whites would resent their scarce tax dollars being spent so far away, when there was still so much poverty at home. But it’s not clear how spending on foreign aid could be responsible for the decline in values that both the grandmother and Red Sam lament.

But the association makes more sense if we don’t take it so literally. The characters must be thinking, not just of the money being “wasted” on the Marshall Plan, but of the recent wars in Europe (Red Sam is a veteran), and the menace of fascism and communism. Totalitarian ideologies and the unlimited violence they unleashed in Europe must have seemed, to those of Red Sam’s generation, like an inexplicable evil set loose on an innocent world.

The senseless and insatiable violence of the European wars will find an echo in the unmotivated murders of the Misfit.

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His khaki trousers reached just to his hip bones and his stomach hung over them like a sack of meal swaying under his shirt. A Good Man Is Hard To Find by Flannery O'Connor

Again, the beforementioned annotation regarding Sammy’s monkey is confirmed. A few paragraphs back we are shown Sammy bossing his wife around in a very negative tone, now we are show what Sammy looks like. Red Sammy is basically what one would imagine, one who is overweight, wearing clothes that do not fit properly, in short: a hick. His description again employs O'Connor’s trademark grotesque.

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"No I certainly wouldn't," June Star said. "I wouldn't live in a broken-down place like this for a million bucks!" and she ran back to the table. A Good Man Is Hard To Find by Flannery O'Connor

From the beginning of the story we have seen June Star insult her grandmother, and insinuate that she lacks acceptable class status; thus she mocks rural Georgia and Tennessee, and state that her grandmother’s long-ago suitor was “no gentleman” because the only gift he could afford was a watermelon.

Now this nasty attitude is projected outward, at the kind wife of Red Sam, as she insults the poverty of the restaurant. The grandmother is, of course, mortified.

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The children's mother put a dime in the machine and played "The Tennessee Waltz," and the grandmother said that tune always made her want to dance. A Good Man Is Hard To Find by Flannery O'Connor

The song seems like a concession to the grandmother, who at the beginning of the story was still insisting that the family go to Tennessee instead of Florida. But the mother will quickly turn it off when her spoiled daughter demands something more modern, a fast song that will allow her to show off her tap dancing.

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A VETERAN! A Good Man Is Hard To Find by Flannery O'Connor

We can guess that he is a veteran of the First World War, given his corpulence in the early 1950s, though it is also possible that the claim is invented.

The Misfit, when we finally encounter him, will also claim to be a veteran.

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She said she wouldn't marry a man that just brought her a watermelon on Saturday. The grandmother said she would have done well to marry Mr. Teagarden because he was a gentle man 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. A Good Man Is Hard To Find by Flannery O'Connor

Again, we find the children looking down on the grandmother and the world she comes from as low-class. June Star is especially unimpressed, mocking the idea that a “gentleman” would display his status with a common gift like a watermelon. The grandmother, once again on the defensive, retorts that he was too a gentleman, in part because he made a great fortune investing in the great Southern corporation of the early twentieth century, Coca-Cola.

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She said he was a very good-looking man and a gentleman and that he brought her a watermelon every Saturday afternoon with his initials cut in it, E. A. T. A Good Man Is Hard To Find by Flannery O'Connor

Very important to the grandmother: he has a class position, and can be called a “gentleman.” Thus he is called “Mr.”, and engraves his initials on things like a monogram.

Of course we can guess that his actual status wasn’t very high by his obscure origins (Jasper, Georgia), and the fact that he is carving his initials on a watermelon, not engraving them on letterhead or shirts.

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"He probably didn't have any," the grandmother explained. "Little riggers in the country don't have things like we do. If I could paint, I'd paint that picture," she said. A Good Man Is Hard To Find by Flannery O'Connor

Again, the grandmother is worried about being a “lady”, meaning having relations worth respecting, and appearing in the proper costume in public (gloves, hat, decorated dress). There is nothing she can do to climb the class ladder, but she can always reassure herself by looking down on blacks, who “don’t have things like we do.”

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