A Good Man Is Hard To Find Summary

In the start of the story, Bailey along with his wife are seen trying to be convinced by the grandmother to change the location for their vacation and go to East Tennessee rather than Florida. The grandmother reasons her argument by showing them an article, which stated the Misfit, who is a convict who just escaped, was heading towards their original place of visit. On the other hand, the grandmother also points out the fact that the kids had already visited the place. The story progresses as the grandson, John Wesley, eight, asks his grandmother stay back, as the granddaughter June replies that she would not ever do.

As the day nears, Pitty Sing, the cat which belongs to the grandmother is hidden by her in a small basket inside the car. She makes sure that in case there is “an accident”, people recognize her as a lady, as she wears a combination of a hat complemented with a dress with flowers. As they are on the verge of passing some cotton fields, the grandmother points out that the cotton field contains burials and graves in the middle resounding a joke “Gone with the Wind.” Following this the story of Edgar Atkins Teagarden comes up, who happened to bring her watermelons almost every week, carving his initials on each of them.  As the old suitor left a watermelon on the top of the porch of our grandmother one day, a child of black ethnicity ate the watermelon, thinking that the initials of Edgar, E.A.T was actually ‘eat.’

In the middle of the journey, the Wesleys stop at a hotel owned by Red Sammy Butts which is called the Tower. As they converse with the owner he recalls a day where he let two unknown men get away with buying gasoline via credit and expresses his opinion that everyone seems untrustworthy to him. The grandmother replies that Red Sammy seems like a good human being to her. As the grandmother questions them regarding the Misfit, Red Sammy’s wife fears getting robbed, and Sammy and the grandmother lament the condition of the world at the moment after Red states that “A good man is hard to find.”

The family gets back in the car after the stop at the Tower and the grandmother remembers the plantation she came across is nearby after waking up from a nap. She reminisces about the house which had six columns which were white in color, situated at the end of a driveway lined with trees. Just to get in the house, the grandmother lies that there was a closed doorway in the house, which would make it seem like the house is more exhilarating, which got the children excited about going there. The grandmother pointed to a road after Bailey gave in to the children’s enthusiasm, angrily. 

As the whole family was driving into the deeper part of the woods to reach the aforementioned house, it just hit the grandmother that the house she was thinking about was actually not located in Georgia, but Tennessee. In the moment of exasperation, the grandmother jerks her feet, being terrified at her silly mistake, which allows Pitty Sing to get loose from its basket, which startles Bailey, ultimately ending with the family facing a devastating accident which damages the car. In the process, the mother has serious injuries to her shoulder, although, everyone else escapes without a scratch. After the fateful occurrence, the grandmother makes a decision to never let out her mistake. 

The incident following the accident did not help the Wesleys cause either. Before the family could let sink in what had just happened, three men are seen getting out from a car which stops right in front of them. These three men are all carrying guns. The grandmother is confused regarding the fact that maybe she knows one of those three men. The man who is wearing glasses but no shirt approaches the car, descending into the ditch. The man advises the mother to tell her children to sit upright as the children make him uncomfortable. Realizing that they are in the hands of the Misfit, the grandmother lets out a scream, while the man follows with the fact that it is a bad thing for them that the grandmother knows who he is. The grandmother is immensely upset as Bailey curses in a violent manner. Being nervous, the grandmother puts up a question to the Misfit regarding if he has it in him to shoot and kill an elderly lady to which he answers that he would not want to. Following this, the grandmother praises him and tells him that he is a part of the “nice people” in the society and is a good man. The Misfit does not disagree and starts praising his own parents. 

As the grandmother keeps repeating that the Misfit is good as a man, he tells the two other men in the gang named Bobby Lee and Hiram to escort John Wesley and Bailey into the depths of the woods. While adjusting her hat, the grandmother breaks off its brim. The action is followed by the Misfit saying that he is not a good man and he knows it. He adds to it by saying that he is not the worst of men in the world either. Then he conveys an apology to the mother and the grandmother for being shirtless and follows that by saying that the three men hid their respective clothes as soon as they escaped. Furthermore, he tells the two women that whatever clothes they borrowed were from some random people they came across. 

The Misfit is asked by the grandmother if he prays or not, to which he answers in the negative, just when they hear two separate gunshots from the woods. The conversation carries on as the Misfit goes on saying that he was a singer by profession, followed by the grandmother who was chanting “pray, pray.” The Misfit says he was convicted of a certain crime that he does not even remember committing and that he was not a bad child. In the words of the Misfit, he was informed by a psychiatrist that he had murdered his father when he was young. As the grandmother advises him to devote himself into prayers so that he can be helped by Jesus, the Misfit tells the grandmother that he does not need any help and that he is doing okay by himself.

As the two men return from the forest, Bobby Lee provides the Misfit Bailey’s shirt, although the grandmother does not realize it. The Misfit then tells the mother of the children to take June Star along with the baby to join Bailey in the woods as Hiram and Bobby Lee accompanies them. Just as Bobby Lee makes an attempt to take June Star’s hand, June says that he resembles a pig.  

To this, the grandmother begins reciting the name of Jesus repeatedly, followed by the Misfit saying that he is like Jesus, but for him committing crimes which Jesus did not. He also adds that the sole reason he provided himself the name was that he doesn’t think that his punishments fit the magnitude of the crime that people say he did. At that exact moment, one gunshot resounded from the depths of the woods, after which she begs the Misfit to not shoot a woman. Following this, two more resounding gunshots are heard from the forest with the old woman screaming the name of Bailey in a cry for help. 

In the words of the Misfit, Jesus seemed to have confused all of it by bringing up the dead and adds that if the actions of Jesus were right, everyone must obey the God of Christianity. On the contrary, if Jesus did not, however, bring the dead up, in this world everyone has to devote themselves to meanness and enjoy the despicable actions they were doing. After saying this, the old woman agrees to the fact pointed out by the Misfit that maybe Jesus did not actually bring the dead up, to which the Misfit states that he does not know and wishes he could be there and see it for himself. As the grandmother tries to get out of the horrific situation that she sensed she was in, she suffers three gunshot wounds in the chest after she acknowledges the Misfit as one of her own children. 

As the grandmother succumbed to her death, the two men, Hiram and Bobby Lee, return from the woods having finished their task and their eyes fall on the body of the grandmother who has not yet gone cold. Observing the grandmother, the self-proclaimed Jesus states that the old woman would surely be a good human being if she had someone pointing a gun at her head all her life, every single minute. The Misfit finishes their job by saying that life does not have any true pleasure.