Table of Contents | Message Board | Downloadable/Printable Version
A GOOD MAN IS HARD TO FIND
THE DISPLACED PERSON
Mrs. McIntyre is about sixty, a widow and twice married after that. The farm belonged to her first husband, a judge she once worked for who was much older than her. They actually had a few good years, and after he died and she discovered that he was nearly penniless, she became determined to make something of the only thing he left her: the family farm. She is always looking for decent hired help, fires people often, and has recently been convinced by a local priest to try hiring a family displaced by the war in Europe. Mrs. McIntyre can't turn down a good deal, but she does have a sense of propriety.
Mr. and Mrs. Shortly
The Shortlys are the hired help at the start of the story. Mr. Shortly is the dairyman--slow and a bit lazy--and Mrs. Shortly has been a friend to Mrs. McIntyre. Mrs. Shortly is distrustful, knows which side the bread is buttered on, and has bee impressed by pictures of the death-camp victims in Europe. She considers all Europeans barbarians, and distrusts the new help from Poland. She is excitable, heavy, and a bit dim-witted.
Mr. Guizac and Family
The Guizac's are from Poland, and are very grateful to be placed with Mrs. McIntyre. Mr. Guizac is hard working, honest, and barely speaks English, though he probably understands more than he lets on. He sees things very practically, and does not understand Mrs. McIntyre, always, or her preferences, but is deferential and bends to his work. His hard work puts a lot of money into Mrs. McIntyre's hands, and he knows this.
The old priest is happy to find a place for the Guizacs, and would like to convert Mrs. McIntyre. But he is very non-confrontational. He won't discuss problems with Mrs. McIntyre. He would rather admire her peacocks. He idolizes their beauty.
Sulk and Astor
The two hired Negroes are supposedly half-lazy, but the older one (Astor) is very aware of what is going on--he's been on the farm since before Mrs. McIntyre. He keeps his mouth shut, but knows the score. The younger man, Sulk, is more gullible, but he knows the probable outcome of his deal making with Guizac as well. He is not so clever with Mrs. McIntyre.
After Mrs. McIntyre finds out that Mr. Guizac is planning to marry his niece (who has been in a detention camp) to Sulk, and that Sulk has been giving him money, she wants to fire him for the very indecency of the idea. But Mr. Guizac makes her a lot of money, and she has trouble actually dismissing him.
Protagonist and Antagonist
Money would have to be the main antagonist in this story. Both Mrs. McIntyre and Mr. Guizac could be protagonists, as both have something to lose, and both try to do the "right" thing--according to their own evaluation.
When Mrs. McIntyre and Mr. Shortly see a tractor role towards Mr. Guizac, rather than shout a warning they let the tractor role over him and he dies.
Mr. Shortly leaves the farm immediately, and Mrs. McIntyre suffers a slow decline, until she no longer cares what happens to her farm or her money.