Violent Actions Are Choices People Make - Using Examples from A Good Man is Hard to Find and Sweat

Violent Actions Are Choices People Make - Using Examples from A Good Man is Hard to Find and Sweat

In the two stories, “A Good Man Is Hard to Find” and “Sweat”, the main male character shows that it is easy to choose violence against women as a step towards keeping good feelings about himself. The final death – causing act, however, is very different in the two stories. In “A Good Man Is Hard to Find”, The Misfit shoots the grandma due to his fears that she would contact police and he would be sent back to prison. While in contrast, in “Sweat”, Sykes is the one who is attacked by the venomous rattlesnake in the house. Violent behavior and actions towards others is a choice that people have to make sometimes. Then, the person who makes a terrible choice, or makes a brutal mistake in their life, has to live with the consequences.

In the beginning of the story, “A Good Man Is Hard to Find”, the family is planning a trip to Florida. The grandma sees the newspaper article about “The Misfit is aloose from the Federal Pen and headed toward Florida” (649). She shows the article to her son Bailey and says, “read here what it says he did to these people” (649). This part of the story describes the grandma’s fear of traveling to Florida. Her reaction to the newspaper article shows she is worried about being in the same area as The Misfit. The nature of violence is proven because of the fact The Misfit escaped from the Federal pen. Only people who commit serious crimes like murder are sent to a Federal prison.

One of the important events of this story occurs after the family’s car accident. When The Misfit and his friends stop where the accident happens, he speaks quietly and tells his friend to check if the car will run (655). At first, The Misfit and his two friends are going to help the family. He later changes his mind when the grandma recognizes him from the newspaper article (655). The two older children notice the three men are carrying guns. Most violent criminals carry weapons with them when traveling. Nice, friendly, and caring people will sometimes help those who are in trouble. Good Samaritans don’t carry weapons when they are taking a trip.

In the ending of the story, “A Good Man Is Hard to Find”, The Misfit decides to have all six family members killed because he was concerned about being sent back to prison after being recognized by the grandma (655). The Misfit feels this is his only option. The Misfit talks with the grandma about religious topics and their lifestyles, while his two friends take the other five family members to the woods and kill them (656 – 659). Then, The Misfit decides to kill the grandma. The act of violence is a choice. Violence is described in this story by The Misfit’s actions and behavior. He decided to kill all six family members, even the three children. The children were innocent victims that didn’t deserve to die in this way. Statistics show that many violent criminals can be repeat offenders. This proves that not everyone has a good heart.

In the beginning of the story, “Sweat”, Delia is a skinny black woman and has been married for fifteen years to Sykes. He has beaten her a few times during those fifteen years. The first time he hit her was two months after they got married (356 – 357). Delia is washing clothes for white people on a Sunday night. Even though, Sykes doesn’t like her doing that at the house. He decides to kick at the piles of clothes because he knows it will irritate Delia (355 – 356). Sykes can be considered as racist because he doesn’t approve of his wife doing work for white people. He also upsets her by using his black bull rope coiled up like a snake to torment her. Statistics show that many women have been in at least one abusive relationship in their lifetime. Sykes’s actions prove that he is a violent person. He chooses to hit her, but doesn’t have a good reason why he should give her brutal beatings. Women should not have to be in abusive relationships. Problems can be solved in other ways than violence.

One of the important events of this story occurs when Sykes is spending time with Bertha. She is his large black friend. At the store, Sykes tells Bertha to get whatever she wants. He reminds her “this was his town and she could have it if she wanted it” (359). He was also paying her rent at Della Lewis (359). Sykes showed kindness and caring behavior towards Bertha, but was aggressive and disrespectful towards his wife Delia. He has two different personalities, depending on which woman he is with at the moment. His anger against Delia’s beliefs and her lifestyle explains his abusive behavior towards her. Sykes can be considered as a judgmental person because he thinks physical appearance of a woman is an important characteristic.

In the ending of the story, “Sweat”, Sykes brings home a six foot rattlesnake to continue tormenting Delia (360). She is extremely scared of snakes. While, Sykes considers himself to be a snake charmer. Delia tells him to get rid of the snake. At first, the snake acts calm while in his box when people are around. Later, the snake attacks Sykes when he is in the house (363). I was incredibly surprised by the ending. I feel that Sykes deserved to die in that terrible manner. Abusive men should be severely punished for their awful behavior and actions towards women. Women should not have to be scared of men. In most abusive relationships, women are afraid to report the violent behavior because of fear for their life and the safety of their children.

In conclusion, it is easy to understand the similarities in the violent behavior shown by The Misfit and Sykes. The Misfit made the choice to have all the family members killed when the grandma recognized him from the newspaper article. He has to live with the guilt of killing innocent victims. Sykes was an abusive person towards his wife Delia. Delia didn’t deserve the severe treatment. Sykes made the choice to hit his wife and torment her with the rattlesnake. The rattlesnake punished Sykes for being a bad person, by attacking him with his venomous fangs. Anyone who shows violent behavior should receive severe and extreme punishment. Problems can be solved in other ways than violence.