When looking at the definition of the word good in Oxford Dictionary there are nine possible examples. The word good is used in so many phrases in everyday language that someone could write a book on it. What does it actually mean to be a good person? So many of the definitions can be applied to a person’s character and none of them mean the same thing. In the short story A Good Man is Hard to Find, Flannery O’Connor illustrates that good can have many different meanings. What one individual may label as good might seem the complete opposite to someone else. This is depicted when Red Sammy lets two strangers borrow gas and they never repay him. The grandmother believes that Red Sammy is a good man, but now everyone has the same point of view. One person may be viewed by society as a bad man but to that man’s family or friends he may be good. The misfit was a cold blooded killer but he had people who stuck by his side. A person may feel that they are a good person, but everyone else can clearly see that they are not. The grandmother tries to make everyone believe she is a good woman but her actions are anything but.
In Flannery O’Connor’s short story there is man named Red Sam who owns a gas station/restaurant. In the story the grandmother and her family stop at Red Sammy’s place for a bite to eat. The grandmother and Red Sam start to talk and he tells the grandmother about an incident a week prior. Earlier Red Sam decides to let two young gentlemen borrow gas in hopes that they would repay him another time. However, the men never came back to pay their debt. Red Sam rhetorically asks the grandmother why he would do that, to which the grandmother replied that he is a good man. The grandmother believes that he is good because she considers him Old Fashion. She values how things were back in her day and feels it was a better time. In the story she often tells tales of her past. She also believes that Red Sam is a good man because he trusted the strangers and that trust is a quality of good. Red Sam’s values align with her own.
Each individual has their own set of criteria or standards of what they consider good. For instance, in the story the grandmother believes that Red Sam is a good man for allowing two strangers to borrow gas. However, most people would not consider this a trait of good but rather poor judgment. Red Sam did not know the men at all except for his first impression of them when they pulled up. Red Sam took their word when they said they worked nearby at a mill but they were most likely lying. Another example of differing standards of what is good would be the differing opinions of the grandmother and her grandchildren. In the story the grandmother takes great pride in her native states of Tennessee and Georgia. She points out the beauty of the trees, mountains and fields while passing through. However, the grandson does not feel the same way. He calls Tennessee a “hillbilly dumping ground” and Georgia “a lousy state” (O’Connor 3). Just because one person believes something good doesn’t mean everyone will feel the same way. What one person considers good could mean the opposite to someone else.
Growing up we have all heard stories of good versus evil. Most were taught that good men defeat the bad men. Good people do not need laws to tell them how to behave or act, while bad people try to find ways around the laws. However, good versus evil is not always as black and white as read in children’s books. One person’s hero can be another person’s villain. For example, in general society we could call a thief a bad man because he steals from others. However he could be stealing food because he cannot afford it and his family is at home starving. Or he may just be a thief and that is his way of life. To other thieves he may be a good man because he is good at what he does. Each person’s idea of what is good depends on their standards of morality. Everyone has their own set of ethics and…