In Flannery O'Connor's "A Good Man Is Hard to Find", the grandmother is the central character in the short story. She is a judgmental, selfish, and conniving woman who refuses to let anything stand in the way of getting what she desires. Priding herself on being a lady, the grandmother strives to make sure everyone is aware of this fact. In the end, she manipulates the family into taking a detour, ultimately costing them their lives.
At the beginning of the story, the family prepares for a vacation to Florida. The grandmother does not want to go to Florida, she would rather go to Tennessee. This allows the reader the first glimpse of her manipulations. She proceeds to tell her son about a criminal, known as The Misfit, who has escaped from prison and is reported to be moving toward Florida. After she plants that seed, she continues all attempts to convince him that a good father would not take his children near to the same location as a criminal. He fails to fall for her ruse, but she is already working on her next scheme, sneaking the cat into the car.
Along the way the grandmother is critical of everything that passes from the scenery to the Negro child standing in the door of his home. She tells stories of the days when she was younger, making herself the center of attention. Even when they stop for food, she monopolizes the conversation with the restaurant owner and his wife. She is embarrassed by her granddaughter and tries to scold her. Again the grandmother mentions The Misfit, this time to the restaurant owner in hopes that her son will abandon the trip.
As they continue their journey, the grandmother mentions to the family about an old plantation that she recalls seeing when she was younger, claims it to be nearby, and requests to visit the site. Her son refuses to alter his course but again her manipulations have her grandchildren crying and begging to go see the plantation.