The narrator of this short story is the grandmother, who proves to be a very shallow, judgmental and selfish person. The grandmother judges people as good or bad based on how they look and behave.
The grandmother’s vanity and self-centered attitude are made apparent in the beginning of the story. Rather than go along to the family’s plan for a trip to Florida, she wishes to visit some of her acquaintances in east Tennessee. And in the end her selfish attitude put the whole family all into the hands of the killer.
Attempting to get the family to go to Tennessee and not to Florida, the grandmother uses the news story of the escaped murderer, the Misfit, to try to scare her son Bailey and change his mind. Although Bailey does not answer her; showing a complete lack of respect for her.
Because such occurrences are relatively rare, the idea of running into a murderer on the loose; the family is lulled into a false security that such a thing will never happen to them.
When Bailey fails to respond to her pressure, the grandmother attempts to get her daughter-in-law to change his mind, but Bailey’s wife also ignores the plea, but the silent disrespect of the parents finds voice through the children. Their conduct toward the grandmother emphasizes the disrespect in which is characteristic of this family’s relationship.
The grandmother agrees to go to Florida and get all dressed up for the car ride, in her shallow mind she thinks: “In case of an accident anyone seeing the dead on the highway would know at once that she was a lady.” – She is showing that she doesn’t care for their lives as much as she cares for her own image appearance to other people.
On their way, they stop at the Tower Café where the grandmother have small talk with the owner of the café (Red Sammy) and his wife, they discuss the evil nature of the present times and decide that, although they themselves may be good people, ‘a good man is hard to find.’ I think is absurd that they blame Europe for the unfortunate changes in the world, and by doing so they are completely removing themselves from being a part of it, they are “inocents” for the evil nature of the present times.
After leaving this establishment is when the grandmother initiated the events that will lead them to their final faith, by being selfish and wanting to visit a old plantation that she visited as a young girl, the grandmother succeeds in getting her way by lying about a secret panel in the house to get the children to agree to going there and convince their dad to drive to this plantation.
Then suddenly, after they are already driving out of their way and in a secluded dirt road is that the grandmother remembers that the house was not there but it is in Tennessee. She doesn’t say anything but reacts with a jump and ended up kicking the bag where the cat is. Now, I think it is ironic that the grandmother sneaked in her cat in a suitcase in the car without nobody knowing; and the cat and therefore the grandmother are the responsible for the car accident which leads to the family death and even more ironic is that the cat befriended the man who murders the entire family; the cat is the only one who survives.
The kids reaction to the accident is dark, they were so mean and heartless, the children appear overjoyed at the accident, they show a complete lack of compassion for their injured mother and June announced with disappointment; ‘But nobody’s killed.’
So now the whole family is hopeless, without a car and in a secluded dirt road all because of the grandmother selfish attitude. Then; the worse happens; the same killer that she read about it on the newspaper drives by them and stops the car. Her reaction of recognizing and identifying him as the Mistif is what caused him to decide that the family should be killed, the grandmother endangered the family by revealing that she knows who he is.
Now, while her whole family was being murdered, she did not try to plead for the lives of her family members, she was only trying to save herself. How selfish and heartless; in my opinion she is a very mean person disguised as a nice “lady” as she likes to think of herself.
While her family was being murdered she was talking to Mistif trying to get him to spare her life. At one point the Mistif seemed to have become emotional and the grandmother “saw the man’s face twisted close to her own as if he were going to cry” – It seemed like the Mistif had a brief epiphany here because after killing the grandmother he said” “It’s no real pleasure in life” – The Mistiff in his own ways is trying find happiness in his life, and he has been going all wrong about it, killing people is what had brought the killer some satisfaction in life, but now, after killing the grandmother he realized that not even that makes him happy.
Before he shot the grandmother 3 times in the chest, she murmured to him ‘Why you’re one of my babies. You’re one of my own children!’ – I think the grandmother also had her brief epiphany; before getting killed she showed compassion and love. She had an epiphany that everyone is connected somehow and there is good and bad in everyone. Therefore, metaphorically he is one of her sons. Also she is now capable of something other than concern for herself, reaches out to him in a gesture of sympathy and love.
“Her face smiling up at the cloudless sky.’ Her epiphany made her feel briefly happy in the last second of her life.
About the title, “A good man is hard to find”, there is no such thing as a good man, but there is good and evil in all of us. All the family members including the grandmother and the cat proved that in this short story.
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