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How to Define a Good Person

“Almost everyone thinks that he or she is a good person, but the first question to be asked is how you define a good person?” by Candace Cameron.

A good person can have quite a number of definitions. One can be defined as a good person according to his or her actions and the situations in which they act. Good people are defined by their actions and not by the way they talk or what the other people say about them. Goodness may be relative according to the context in which the acts termed as good are committed. For instance, if someone helps a thief to escape he becomes good in the eyes of that criminal; on the other hand, according to the law the individual is an accomplice and should be jailed. I chose four characters: Misfit, Sammy in “A Good Man is Hard to Find” Boyle in “Carnal Knowledge” and Martin in “An Ounce of Cure”. Why did I choose these three characters? It is because they also can be defined as either good people or bad ones from various perspectives.

In “A Good Man Is Hard to Find” Sammy claimed that “two men had come to me and as far as I was concerned they looked acceptable”. This is general assumption that people are concerned with other people’s appearances. Appearance is not a reality and things may be not what they seem to be. There exist many admirable characteristics that are to distinguish between a good and a bad person. They include helpfulness, kindness, mercifulness, humility, love and many other traits. For one to be considered as good means that he or she must possess some or all of the characteristics named above. Goodness is a virtue that is acquired with time. However, some people may pretend to be good while they are hiding their bad features.

According to the story “A Good Man Is Hard to Find”, a criminal called Misfit is on the loose and Bailey takes his family on vacation. According to his character Misfit can easily be judged as a bad person, since he orders to kill Baileys’ wife and children. He finds so much pleasure in killing their granny. According to this fact we can easily conclude that Misfit is not a good person. On the other hand, in the short story “An Ounce of Cure” we see a young girl who falls in love with an arrogant boy called Martin. After very short period of time he leaves the girl who is so much in depression that she contemplated committing suicide. Even though she was brought up in the family where it was not common to drink she finishes her life drowning in alcoholism. From the character of Martin we notice that he is not a good person. Although his arrogance can be considered as lesser evil it is still not good. The girl’s mother is impressed by the parting of Martin and her daughter.  In both stories people behave wrongly although they have different understanding of wrong actions committed to them. It is wise to investigate before judging the characters of people around us. “I wondered how I consider Kline as a good person”, the girl wondered in the story “An Ounce of Cure”. This shows that her opinion about Kline was based on appearance and generalizations. She had never tried to know him better or learn his real character.    

People usually want to be good and deal with good things. It is difficult to judge to which extent is good the person though people assess positive features of others differently. A lot of factors can influence the level of kindness in a person; these include background, effort and religious affiliation among others. People exert different efforts striving to be good. Practice makes people become good. Having looked through these stories we can see that there is no general correct definition of good or evil.

People should not be judged according to a bad or good action they did. Appearances cannot show person’s inner world. Many people who are really bad inside show their positive behaviors and attitudes towards others just to make other people value them. They are hypocrites and have two different personalities to apply when necessary. In this case, we are wrong to judge at first glance. Appearances and actions do not define good individuals. For example in the story of “An Ounce of Cure” the girl wondered how she had accepted Kline as a good person. She had not studied him and formed opinion about his character according to his handsome appearance making conclusion that he was a good person.

Defining a good person can be based on various characteristics. A good person is someone who does his or her best to behave properly. A good person possesses a sense of responsibility, integrity, honesty and empathy. This is someone who puts the needs of others above his own. He is a person other people can turn to when they are in troubles because they know he will help them. Defining person's character as good depends on  his/her life experience with the others. Thus, we can only state that this person is good if he has shown during his life that he had been good to the society and others , and not due to his occasional pretending to be good.  This is just the case with Sammy in the short story “A Good Man is hard to find” as well as with Martin’s behavior towards the girl in “An Ounce of Cure”. Sammy had conversation with the grandmother discussing how difficult it is to get acquainted with a good man in the current society. Martin was not a good person towards the girl since he had met another girl in the drama club.

Characteristic features of a good person are not always good. We should not judge someone to be good just because he behaves well and usually smiles to the others. This is because of a simple reason that we all feel sad, unhappy, angry or furious in some situations, but this does not mean that we are bad. Sometimes we cannot control ourselves and act wrongly or show unaccepted behavior that the others will not like and therefore they judge us as bad. An example of a bad person is Misfit who orders to kill an innocent family without any reason. Martin can also be termed as a bad person from the side of the girl since he broke her heart by leaving her for another.

Simple gestures can make a person stand out of the crowd and people may accept him as good, which may not correspond to the reality. People should not give all they have to the others or give all their money for the charity in order to seem good. However, they can just give a part of what they have if they can to those who are in need. They do not have to say what they have done to everyone; talking about good actions does not make them good. A good person is a person who cares for the others as brothers, not strangers. Such individual is not selfish; he or she is at first good to the others and not to himself/herself.

To conclude, in these three short stories – “An Ounce of Cure’, “It is Hard to Find a Good Man” and “Carnal Knowledge” – we observe that a good or bad man is defined by his or her appearance, by their actions, whether they were wrong or right. For example, the previous actions of Misfit who had escaped from the prison show that he was not a good person.  However, there are some characteristics that we have to use in order to form judgment of a good person. Being modest, lovely, helpful, trustworthy, honest, and caring are the true criteria that should be considered when judging whether a person is good. Appearances may deceive us and let us make wrong judgments.  I am sure that the characteristic features I have mentioned in this paper are just a few. There are many other good traits of character. In my opinion, we do not have to hurry in making judgments about whether a person is good or bad. We must take time to observe one’s behavior and actions to be able to say whether he or she is good or bad.

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