Study Guide

Good Samaritan

by John O’Hara

Good Samaritan Summary

Summary (Masterpieces of American Literature)

“Good Samaritan” first appeared in The Saturday Evening Post of November 30, 1968. As the story begins, Mary Wood is hosting twenty people for a buffet lunch. Her party may be associated with a golf tournament that is being held that weekend.

The setting is not identified specifically, but it is an affluent community of suburban or summer homes in the present day. When the Reeds—George and Carrie—arrive, they ask where Willoughby Wood is. Mary confides to them that her husband has been missing for two days, but she tells the other guests that he has been suddenly called away to Washington. Because it is Sunday, Mary’s story is unconvincing. Only one of her guests, however, is sufficiently interested in the whereabouts of Willoughby Wood to challenge her. After all the other guests have left, Agatha Surtees, a “notorious stayer,” attempts to intrude upon the private conversation Mary has been waiting to have with the Reeds. Mary practically expels Agatha with physical force, and the latter goes huffing off to her hired limousine. Agatha’s age is given as fifty-two, Willoughby’s as fifty-nine, so the reader infers that the other characters are in their fifties as well.

Mary receives a call from Lieutenant Hackenschmidt of the sheriff’s patrol. Willoughby has been found wandering aimlessly in East Quantuck, unshaven, disheveled, and without money, watch, or identification. When picked up, he was not intoxicated—he...

(The entire section is 561 words.)

Good Samaritan Bibliography (Masterpieces of American Literature)

Bruccoli, Matthew. John O’Hara: A Descriptive Bibliography. Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 1978.

Bruccoli, Matthew. The O’Hara Concern. New York: Random House, 1975.

Eppard, Philip B. Critical Essays on John O’Hara. New York: G. K. Hall, 1994.

Goldleaf, Steven. John O’Hara: A Study of the Short Fiction. New York: Twayne, 1999.

Grimes, William. “The John O’Hara Cult, at Least, Is Faithful.” The New York Times, November 9, 1996, p. 17.

MacShane, Frank. The Life of John O’Hara. New York: E. P. Dutton, 1980.

MacShane, Frank, ed. Collected Stories of John O’Hara. New York: Random House, 1984.

Wolfe, Geoffrey. The Art of Burning Bridges: A Life of John O’Hara. New York: Knopf, 2003.