The Battle of the Good and the Bad Within


There is often an open argument on the existence of good and bad, with most people arguing that the good and bad cannot exist together. This means that any given individual would have to choose between being good and being bad. The reality however, as will be argued in this paper is that people are often motivated to act depending on their circumstances and desires. It is often not particularly decided that an individual would only partake in good or bad deeds. One’s actions are simply as a result of their motivations and desires regardless of whether they end badly, or they end well. While most people abhor bad acts, in most cases, people do not intend to do bad things; they just fail to see that their actions would have a bad outcome.

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Desires and Motivations

People are driven by their desires depending on their specific contexts. In A good man is hard to find, the grandmother starts thinking about her younger days and she starts to tell the children a story from her happier memories. The children are engrossed in the story that they persuade their father to take them to the house in the story, which would imply a side trip that deviates from their planned trip. This turns out to be a mistake as the grandmother eventually remembers that the house she had been talking about was actually in Tennessee. The underlying desire in this case was simply a moment to relive her youth, but she ends up misleading the family. Secondly, upon realizing her mistake, she startles the cat, which in the end causes her son to lose control of the car and they end up having an accident. In this story, it can be appreciated that one’s actions are not in any way guided by a desire to do good or to do bad. The actions are mainly guided by desires or motivations that are not in any way hinged on the laws of right and wrong. The grandmother in this story simply felt a string urge to appreciate the good old days especially after her conversation with Red Sammy, the owner of the old diner where they had stopped for lunch. The present had become such a brutal and scary place that the poor woman simply could not stop looking back with nostalgia.

Another context for desires and motivations would be in the character of The Misfit. In the story, this individual is introduced as a dangerous murderer with a record of accomplishment of taking innocent lives without a specific justification for his actions. When he shows up at the scene of the accident, he is even very polite to the grandmother and he seems to try to help the family. The desire of this murderer is not in any way linked to giving pain but rather liberating the people into an afterlife. When The Misfit is arguing with Bobby Lee after killing the entire family, he states that there is no real fun in life. In this instance, it becomes clear that the murderer believes that life is faulty in one way or another and thus that dying is a better option. In his own twisted way, he desires to ‘help’ people by freeing them from life and possibly sending them into another better phase where they may be able to enjoy some happiness. The Misfit’s ideology on life may have been borne out of his own experiences while growing up but they give him a strong desire to inflict not pain but peace, through death. Thus without trying to justify the murders, it can be noted that the actions portrayed by this character are not hinged on the definition of good and bad. Rather, they are based on the perpetrator’s desires and motivations founded on their perspective on life. This perspective is in this case responsible for distorting the line between bad and good from The Misfit’s point of view.

Outcomes and Intentions

In the story, The Misfit and the grandmother present clear contexts within which outcomes and intentions can be considered based on their impact on defining good and bad. The grandmother did not intend to send the family to the wrong place with her story about a house from her younger years. She was simply reminiscing on the good old days and in this case, her intentions were very noble. She could not be faulted for having good memories. In addition, when she involuntarily kicked the cat and caused a commotion in the car it was not intentional either. She had been startled to realize that she had actually made a mistake in directing the family to the house in her memories. These were the intentions in the story but their outcomes were not as pleasant. First, it is noted that the grandmother ends up misleading the family based on her memories that arouse the children’s interest in the house. In this scenario, the family ends up deviating from their original trip and wasting more time on the road for nothing. Secondly, when she kicks the cat and causes the commotion in the car they end up having an accident. This is yet another bad outcome from an act that was not ill-intended. The grandmother is a good woman, as even The Misfit contends. She however can be argued to be the source of the family’s troubles considering she is even the one who flags down The Misfit to help them after the accident. She would however never put the family in danger intentionally.

As for The Misfit, it can be argued that his intentions are also not as bad. The Misfit is an escaped prisoner with a biased perspective on life. He seems to believe that there are not many positive things in the life that he knows and thus the better option for people is to die. In the story, The Misfit kills the entire family without really overthinking it mainly because he feels that he is doing them a favor. He could be right within his specific perspective on life but he ends up taking the lives of an entire family. Taking a life is not justifiable in most circumstances regardless of the specific beliefs that one holds. The intentions of The Misfit’s deeds in this case may or may not be right but the outcomes of these deeds are obviously and definitely wrong.


Generally, when most people act, they believe that they are doing the right thing based on their specific desires and motivations. The grandmother was motivated to tell the children about the house because she felt a strong desire to relive the past. The Misfit on the other hand felt the desire to liberate people from their lives, which he believed were full of misery. These desires and motivations are what led both characters to act in the way they did, with the outcomes of their actions failing to match their initial intentions. Most people are blinded by their desires and motivations that they fail to evaluate the actual outcomes of their deeds. This is how they end up doing wrong things and even endangering their lives and those of others around them.