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A Good Man is Hard to Find summary

A Good Man is Hard to Find is a narrative found in the short story collection, A Good Man is Hard to Find and Other Stories, by Flannery O’Connor. The major characters make up an American family of five, which constitutes a father [Bailey], mother [Bailey’s wife], three children [John Wesley, June Star and the baby] and their grandmother. It also includes three escaped prisoners who are The Misfit, Hiram and Bobby Lee plus a restaurant owner called Red Sammy Butts and his wife. Animal characters in the story are Pitty Sing, the grandmother’s cat, and Gray Monkey, Red’s pet monkey.

The story starts at Bailey’s home where the family anticipates a vacation to Florida. The grandmother however, prefers Tennessee to Florida as she has some connections there. For this reason, she tries to convince the rest of the family against Florida by citing an article in the newspaper of an escaped prisoner headed towards that direction. The family shows little interest in her complaints and the trip to Florida kicks off the next day. The grandmother conceals her cat in a basket to carry for the trip. She is well aware of her son’s dislike of having a cat in a motel but can’t bear leaving it alone in the house.

Throughout the trip, the grandmother talks continuously, reminiscing her youth and admiring the natural features along the road. The family then stops over at Red’s diner called the Tower, where they meet Red and his pet monkey as they enter. In the diner, the grandmother converse with the owners about the untrustworthy nature of people. She also enquires on the escaped criminal, The Misfit. Mrs. Red begins to express her fears about the criminal but her husband quickly shuts her up. Instead, he continues his talk on the untrustworthy nature of people and concludes by stating that a good man is hard to find.

Once back on the road, the grandmother forces Bailey to detour by enticing the children to pester him on allowing them to see an old house with secret passages. She directs them through a dirt road where the cat leaps from the basket and lands on Bailey’s neck. This causes him to lose control of the car, which ends up in a ditch. The grandmothers successfully flags down a car for help. To their dismay, its occupants are the three escaped prisoners, The Misfit, Hiram and Bobby. They take Bailey, his wife and the children to the nearby woods where they shoot them dead. The grandmother is shot last on the spot while begging for her life.