Please explain the irony in the story "A Good Man Is Hard To Find."
Situational irony occurs when the grandmother tries to persuade Bailey against traveling to Florida in an attempt to avoid the Misfit—but she ends up directing her family into the murderer's path by convincing Bailey to take a back road to see an old house she remembers.
The grandmother's perception of others and judgmental nature are also ironic. The grandmother inaccurately judges individuals based on their appearances and superficial behaviors while lacking true insight into morality and ethics. She calls Red Sammy a "good man" simply because he gave two strangers free gas, which does not necessarily make him a good man. Ironically, she also refers to Misfit as a good man because of his calm demeanor and favorable appearance. Despite her assurance that she can judge a good man from a bad person, the grandmother fails to recognize that the Misfit is a sociopath and ruthless killer.
It is also ironic that the grandmother feels empowered to judge others by her narrow definition without exercising or examining her own morals. For example, the grandmother uses racial slurs, hides her cat from Bailey (who would not approve of its presence), and also conceals the fact that she misremembered the location of the estate where Bailey was driving. It is also ironic that the second the grandmother experiences an epiphany and attempts to show compassion for the Misfit, she is rewarded with a bullet in the chest.
check Approved by eNotes Editorial