Women have tender hearts that are less prone to respond to the dangers. Men who in most cases are associated with hard hearts can sometimes be ruthless to anyone. A woman due to her nature has a way of humbling herself, especially before a man. The age in women is not a hindrance to making them humble before men. It is normal to encounter an old woman showing sympathy to a young man. However, the prevailing circumstances can dictate how submissive a woman can be before a man. In dangerous situations, women when in the company of men, expect the man to take the lead. Women are very weak when faced with danger, and they quickly succumb due to their human nature. This study shows how a woman despite her age fears the crime especially if they are to be the victims and also it will show the different individual’s reactions when under fear. The response of how a woman can go to the depth of humility when there is an impending danger at hand is well addressed. The study draws deeply from the character of Grandmother in the short story “A Good Man is Hard to Find” by Flannery O’Connor.
A woman under fear easily loses the control of her thinking and sees things from a different dimension. It is not a wonder to find a woman calling another person a name the person does not bear. In “A Good Man is Hard to Find” the Grandmother becomes overwhelmed by fear when she recognizes that Misfit is up to destroy them. She calls Misfit Bailey since the fear has sieged her. She is no longer under the control of herself. “Bailey Boy!” (O’Conner 25). Those are the words of the grandmother which she uttered to Misfit but later realized she was not talking to her son Bailey. The fear in Women has great control and makes them see illusions. According to some studies, women have been found to display three times the fear of men (Scott 203). The fear of Grandmother emanates after her son Bailey and the grandson John Wesley are pushed to the woods by Bobby Lee. The Grandmother was uncertain what was awaiting her son in the wood, but the display of her fear indicates that she foresaw danger awaiting her son. The increased concern makes the Grandmother name of her son the name of the Misfit. This is an indication of how the fear of women escalates faster and to a very high degree. According to Doranб fear can instill psychological problems, and it as well can make a person change their behavior (9). Grandmother was affected psychologically and hence lost control of her memory when she realized she was calling Misfit Bailey. It was hard for the Grandmother to imagine how her son Bailey would disappear. The fear coupled with the tender love of Grandmother to Bailey made her lose control of herself and call Misfit the name of her son.
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Fear in women makes them invoke the source of divine power as a means of seeking for solace. From the short story, Grandmother repeatedly calls for Jesus to help her overcome the danger at hand. “Jesus. Jesus,” (O’Connor 300). The Grandmother was invoking the name of Jesus whom she thought to be the redeemer from difficulties. In the Christian Bible, the name of Jesus is associated with divine power that is transcendent over the human nature. It is not clear as to whether the Grandmother has been a firm Christian before but what O’Conner exposes is that it was the fear that made the Grandmother to invoke the name of Jesus. According to some surveys by the British Crime Survey, the ratio of fear of women to men is incomparable (Gilchrist et al. 283). The number of women who reports the high vulnerability to fear outweighs that of men. The women are known to be dependent in most cases. They mostly rely on powerful bodies to assist them in fighting the fear. When Grandmother calls for Jesus, it is an expression of how dependent she is on powerful authorities that can help overcome the danger. It is thus apparent that women mostly have no time of fighting for themselves, but they rely on other authoritative bodies. Although the Grandmother invokes the name of Jesus out of fear, it is clear that she is very humble at the moment. Under dangerous conditions, women tend to be more humble than usual. According to the words that the Grandmother uses to address Misfit, it is realizable that Misfit is younger than this woman. Being older than Misfit does not make Grandmother bold in the situation at hand. She believes that she needs a more powerful authority to rescue her from impending danger. This explains why, under fearful circumstances, Grandmother repeatedly calls for the help of Jesus.
The fear in women makes them develop a behavior of soothing and convincing. This is an act of humility that they employ as a means to seeking the way out of danger. Grandmother in “A Good Man is Hard to Find” is found using persuasive words towards Misfit to calm him or make him abandon his intention of exterminating her. “Jesus, you ought not to shoot a lady,” (O’Connor 30). The words were used by Grandmother when she was trying to convince Misfit how bad it is for a man to kill a lady. Grandmother had already heard some pistol shots coming from the wood where the wife of Bailey and her child had been thrown. She knew her turn of receiving a bullet was knocking on the door. As a means of trying to change the intention of Misfit, she tells him that it is not right to shoot a lady. At this time, the fear is taking control of Grandmother. She is shaking as she tries to change the mentality of Misfit who is about to shoot her. The level of fear of crime by women has been recognized since the time immemorial (Madriz 342). A woman under suspicion is bound to use any means she can to divert the case that is suppressing her security. Not always can a woman use kind words towards a man but some conditions propel them to do so. A terror attack is one of the cases that force women to change their character and emerge as gentle beings with convincing words. The situation of Grandmother in the short story explains how persuasive and respectful a woman can turn to be when she is under fear of attack.
It is possible for a woman under fear to fake the character of the murder and praise them. This has been evident in the short story where Grandmother consistently reminds Misfit that he is a good man. It has been clear in the story that Misfit is associated with murder cases and thus he is not a good man. Grandmother overlooks the character of Misfit and calls him a good man. This is faking the man’s character which makes Grandmother think that the praising of his character will make him change his intention of killing the family. The Grandmother tells Misfit that, “I just know you’re a good man.” (O’Conner 25). The words by Grandmother are not genuine, but she says them out of desperation and fear. This was just after they had an accident and anonymous vehicle appeared where there emerged three men one of whom is the renowned murder, Misfit. Grandmother recognizes that there is danger ahead hence she thinks that faking the character of Misfit by calling him a good man will turn everything to their favor. It is the fear that propels Grandmother to call the murder a good man. This creates an indication that a woman under the influence of fear can fake the character of any person as a means looking for an exit out of danger.
A person under fear of attack is ready to offer all the wealth to spare the life. The short story shows how Grandmother promised to give Misfit all the properties to spare her life (O’Connor 30). Grandmother convinces Misfit to accept all the finances from her to spare her life. It was the fear that was controlling this woman as she was just looking for any possible means to save her dear life. Under normal conditions, Grandmother would not readily offer money to anybody, but the terror attack was prompting her to convince Misfit to accept spare her life in exchange for cash. This is what Doran recognizes as among the individual reactions when someone is subjected to a terror attack (9). Grandmother was very humble and convincing when speaking with Misfit because the fear had already gripped her.
Fear changes an individual character and makes them appear indifferent. A person under terror, especially of attack, is likely to be very humble and convincing to the murder. A good reason may be that no person is readily willing to die. From the short story, Grandmother has displayed how a person under the terror of attack is likely to shape his/her character. However, it has been noted that women are more affected by fear than men. Grandmother has displayed different reactions when subjected to the terror attack. She appears to be very convincing, humble, Christianized, and generous. These characters depict that fear by women escalates to very high levels and also that women especially the old ones fears death. O’Connor has succeeded in building the theme of fear through Grandmother. Although she is talkative, she has revealed later to be very fearful. It can thus be concluded that fear especially in women knows no age and can quickly make them lose the control of their memory.
- Duran. “Why Is Fear of Crime a Serious Social Problem?” An International Journal, 2012, Vol. 6, No. 1, pp. 9-23.
- Gilchrist, E., J. Bannister, J. Ditton, and S. Farrall. “Women and the Fear of Crime.” International Journal of Humanities and Social sciences, 1998, Vol. 38, No. 2, pp. 283-289.
- Madriz, Esther. Images and Victims: A study on Women’s Fear and Social Control. Gender and Society, 1997, Vol. 11, No. 3, pp. 342-356.
- O’Connor, Flannery. “A Good Man Is Hard to Find and Other Stories.” San Diego, Calif: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1983. Print.
- Scott, Hannah. “Stranger Danger: Explaining Women’s Fear of Crime.” Western Criminology Review, 2003, Vol. 4 No.3, pp. 203 – 214