Table of Contents | Message Board | Downloadable/Printable Version
A GOOD MAN IS HARD TO FIND
THE DISPLACED PERSON
PLOT SUMMARY (Synopsis)
Mrs. McIntyre and Astor clean the barn and talk. She is glad the Shortleys are just gone, she didn't have to fire them. Astor reminds her that he is still there, always has been. She catches his meaning, but ignores his comment. He liked the Judge's old saying: that as soon as he got too poor to pay others for their work, the world might get back on its feet. Mrs. McIntyre finds this attitude irresponsible, considering all she has to deal with. Now she has someone who has to work--not like all the worthless people she's had before. He agreed--the Pole is different than the others. Way different. She says times are changing--and that if she didn't hold all this together, none of them would have jobs. Astor leaves the barn muttering, and she reminds him that the Judge is not the one running things anymore. But Astor had known how things had gone all along--he didn't like her other two husbands, the ones she divorced. Mrs. McIntyre knew Astor snooped around her private business.
She married the Judge because of his money, all right, but she also liked him. The three years they were married were the happiest of her life. She was as shocked as anybody that he turned out to be as poor as he always claimed. The damn peacocks are only left over from when the Judge kept them, only because they looked rich. She was sorry the Guizacs had to struggle, but she had had to struggle too, and she had survived. She was proud of that survival.
She saw Sulk walking and looking at something in his hand. When she asked to see it, he didn't want to show it. She made him. It was a picture of a girl, about thirteen. Who is it? she asked. He told her that this was Mr. Guizac's cousin, and that she was going to marry him. Mrs. McIntyre can't believe it, and asks for more details. He tells her that the girl is older now, has been in a camp, and he is giving Mr. Guizac some money for her travel and she will come here and marry him. A dollar a week. Still, he doubts it will happen. Mrs. McIntyre is outraged. She tells him she will get his money back. Then she goes into the house and lies on the bed and bemoans the fact that they are all alike, all these people who work for her and defile things. One family even took the statue off the Judge's grave when they left. She didn't have the money to replace it--no one in the world was poorer than she.
She got in the car and drove out to the field, waited for Mr. Guizac to bring the tractor around and then asked to have a word with him. She tells him that he can't be serious, marrying that girl to a Negro. He tells her that the girl is older now, has been "in camp" three years, has no mother or father. He shows her another picture: the same girl, sixteen now, a scarecrow. Mrs. McIntyre remembers Mrs. Shortley's warning, that the man understands more English than he claims. Mrs. McIntyre tells Mr. Guizac that she doesn't want to hear any more about this ridiculous business, that he has a good job here, and that she is not responsible for the world's misery. He says "Ya," and gets back on the tractor.
She stands on the hill watching him maneuver the tractor. He is just like all the rest, she thinks. But more energetic. But so is she. She surveys her place, including the graveyard, where the Judge lies. He must be grinning.