A Good Man Is Hard to Find: Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been

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In the short stories "A Good Man Is Hard to Find" and "Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been" the antagonists are The Misfit and Arnold Friend respectively. Both are mentally unstable and murderers, but that is where the similarities end. The protagonists of the stories are Grandma and Connie respectively. Both seem to be dissimilar at first but as the stories progress more similarities than differences become apparent to the reader.

In "A Good Man Is Hard to Find" is The Misfit is uneducated and was raised in the backwoods. He got into a lot of mischief when he was young as indicated by his father's comments. On page 439 paragraph 100 his father said he was a "different breed of dog from the others". You get the idea The Misfit is mentally unstable when he said in paragraph 111, ". . . along the way I did something wrong and they sent me to the penitentiary. I was buried alive." He seemingly ignores Grandma's question as to why he was sent to prison and continues to describe the way he felt in his cell. He then answers Grandma's question and says the psychologist told him he killed his father. He denied that fact because he said is father died of the flu epidemic in "nineteen ought nineteen". Another indicator of his mental instability in the story is when he talks about Jesus raising the dead and "thown" everything off balance. He was also angry because he was not present when the dead were raised.

The Misfit didn't really seem to enjoy killing like other psychopaths. Instead of killing all family members in plain sight he had Hiram and Bobby Lee take them into the woods and out of sight to kill them. They killed quickly without making them physically suffer. The Misfit did kill Grandma after she reached out to touch him but when Bobby Lee indicated it would be "some fun" to shoot Grandma everyday The Misfit told him in the last line to shut up and then said, "It's no real pleasure in life". He killed because he was "a different breed of dog".

In "Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been" Arnold Friend's mental instability is indicated by his efforts to look, dress, act and talk like a young teenager to entice Connie to go for a ride with him and Ellie. Connie not only noticed he was much older but that he also wore something in his boots to make him look taller. The effect was that it made him walk funny and look comical. His different poses were to impress Connie but, again, they made him look more foolish than cool. Background information on Arnold Friend is not given in the story but the impression is he has some education. His comments on page 660 paragraph 58 also show him being cunning enough to get information on Connie, her best friend and details of where her family went for the Sunday barbeque and the activities planned for the event. Again, no reference in the story to his education but he obviously is more educated than The Misfit.

Arnold Friend enjoys harming other people. Page 663 paragraph 105 he tells Connie he is always nice at first and proceeds to tell her what he is going to do to her. You get the idea he takes great pleasure in harming other people, especially young girls. Rape is brutal and Arnold Friend explained to Connie that was exactly what he is going to do to her. You get the feeling, as did Connie, she is not going to survive the ordeal.

The similarities of Grandma and Connie are the antithesis of The Misfit and Arnold Friend. At first we assume Grandma should be much different than Connie because of her age and background. Grandma is interested in her own wants and desires. As the story begins Grandma is complaining about going to Florida. She wants to go to east Tennessee for vacation and uses the newspaper article about The Misfit's escape from prison as a reason to change plans. This is also a foreshadowing of her eventual fate at the hands of The Misfit. She knew Bailey did not want to take the cat. She got up earlier than all...
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