Why does the grandmother claim The Misfit as one of her children?
In a moment of clarity, the grandmother looks at The Misfit and calls him one of her children as a way of recognizing their shared humanity. The grandmother holds a rather self-righteous attitude throughout a majority of the story, but as she listens to The Misfit discuss his desire to know the truth about Jesus, she realizes that all people are flawed and possess an innate, human connection to one another because of it. She comes to see her killer in a more gracious way.
Why is the grandmother unnamed?
Although the story does not offer any specific details as to why the grandmother remains unnamed, O’Connor’s interest in broad themes such as the nature of goodness and the possibility of redemption suggests that the figure of the grandmother may serve as an allegorical stand-in for humanity at large. The grandmother’s spiritual journey from performative goodness to understanding true grace is one which O’Connor seems to argue is necessary for anyone to become a “good man.” Choosing not to give her a proper name keeps her character open enough to take on a broader identity.
What causes the car to crash?
When the grandmother suddenly realizes that the plantation they are looking for is in Tennessee rather than Georgia, her face turns red and her feet jolt from embarrassment. This movement knocks over her black suitcase and causes Pitty Sing, the cat, to jump out of the basket which she had hidden underneath. The cat startles Bailey in the driver’s seat and, as a result, he accidentally crashes the car into a ditch. Everyone emerges unscathed from the wreck except for Bailey’s wife who sustains a broken shoulder.
Why does The Misfit kill?
The Misfit’s desire to kill others comes from his belief that punishment is inevitable regardless of behavior and his frustration surrounding his inability to know the truth about his world. He explains to the grandmother that he does not remember the crime that landed him in prison and cannot see how his punishment reflects his actions, both of which make it impossible for him to believe in goodness or redemption. As a result, The Misfit chooses to engage in “meanness” and gives into sin, deriving pleasure from the sense of control it brings him. In the end, however, the grace that the grandmother shows him changes his perspective and takes the joy out of killing.
How does the grandmother view the past?
The grandmother views the past in an extremely positive way, frequently emphasizing its superiority over the present day. Her strong sense of nostalgia influences her attitude toward those around her as she automatically assumes that, because she is the oldest, they are morally inferior to her. This idealized image of the past, however, blinds the grandmother to the many harsh realities of her youth as well, including the blatant racial prejudices that continue to taint her worldview.