Explain the exposition, rising conflict, climax, and resolution for "A Good Man is Hard to Find".

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favoritethings eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The exposition includes information about the grandmother's wanting to visit Tennessee rather than Florida, her relationship with her son, Bailey, the background information about The Misfit having escaped prison. The "children's mother," who remains nameless, is introduced and described, as are the two older children, John Wesley and June Star.

The rising action begins when the car ride starts the following morning. The grandmother "sat in the middle of the back seat with John Wesley and June Star on either side of her." She notes the time and mileage on the car before they leave because she is interested to see how many miles they go. This beginning of this car trip initiates the action that will lead to the climax. The rising action also includes the family's car accident and the description of the men with guns who stop in a "hearse-like automobile" to check them out.

The climax occurs when the grandmother recognizes and identifies The Misfit; though he tells her that "'it would have been better for all of [them] if [she] hadn't of reckernized [him].'" Bailey says something terrible to her, and the grandmother begins to cry. This is the turning point of the story, when we begin to understand what the family's fate will be—as a result of the grandmother's lack of common sense.

The falling action includes the family's deaths, one by one, in the woods, as well as the conversation between the grandmother and The Misfit while the others are killed in the woods, shot by the other boys. Finally, the resolution occurs when the grandmother tells him that he is one of her "'own children,'" and she finally realizes his humanity and how little of significance truly separates them—despite her earlier beliefs about the good old days and what makes a good man—and The Misfit shoots her.

sagetrieb eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The exposition includes all of the information about the grandmother and her family. The rising conflict begins with “The next morning the grandmother was the first one in the car, ready to go,” for here she sets herself and family up for the events that follow. It continues through Red Sammy saying, “A good man is hard to find,” and, briefly afterwards, when the grandmother demands that Bailey turn around to see the plantation she knew as a “young lady,”  and culminates when they have a flat tire. As soon as the men approach them, the story rises in tension, the conflict between the grandmother and Misfit—and all that each represents—sharpening as they interact.  The climax occurs when she says “why you’re one of my babies” and the Misfit “spr[i]ngs back as if a snake had bitten him” and then shoots her.  The resolution includes the men walking away, the Misfit looking “defenseless” and commenting that the grandmother “would have been a good woman,” powerfully ironic after Red Sammy’s statement earlier and within the context of the story’s title.

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A Good Man Is Hard to Find

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