In "A Good Man is Hard to Find," what role does the BBQ episode play?

2 Answers

jamie-wheeler's profile pic

Jamie Wheeler | College Teacher | eNotes Employee

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Red Sammy is the owner of "Red Sammy's Famous BBQ," the restaurant where the grandmother, her son, Bailey, grandson John Wesley, and her granddaughter June Star, stop for lunch on their way to Florida. 

While waiting for their lunch, the grandmother has a conversation with Red Sammy and his wife.  The two discuss their distrust of people in general, how much things have changed since they were young, and how, as Sammy says, "A good man is hard to find.  Everything is getting terrible.  I remember the day you could go off and leave your screen door unlatched.  Not no more."

In addition to bemoaning the loss of the old days, Sammy's wife brings up the story about the dangerous "Misfit" who has escaped the Federal Penitentiary, the same account which begins O'Connor's story.  Later, after the car accident, it is the "Misfit" they encounter, whom they believe has stopped to render aid.  Still wanting to believe that there was "a good man" in all men,  the grandmother pleads with the Misfit to reclaim the good in him, to no avail.  She and her family are murdered. 

The episode at Red Sammy's

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cybil | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator

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This scene, framed by details of the monkey smart enough to avoid potentially cruel children, primarily offers character development of the grandmother and provides the story's title. Initially the grandmother tries to show her "naturally sunny disposition" (according to her) by asking Bailey to dance to "The Tennessee Waltz"; when he refuses, she sways and pretends to dance in her chair. Later she "hiss[es]" at June Star for being rude to Red Sam's wife. Both of these behaviors show the grandmother's emphasis on appearance.

We see more evidence of the old woman's inherent sense of superiority in her conversation with Red Sammy as they bemoan the lack of good people in the world. He, however, is "a good man" because he let some mill workers charge the gas they bought though he doubts they'll be able to pay him. Red Sammy notes "A good man is hard to find.... Everything is getting terrible."

Next she brings up the news about the Misfit, ominously reminding us of someone clearly not a good man. Red Sam's wife even declares the Misfit is likely to "attack this place right here" in an exaggerated response. Then the grandmother demonstrates her intolerance because she believes "Europe was entirely to blame for the way things were now," referring to foreign aid. Her focus on appearance and prejudice are further revealed in this short scene.