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A Good Man is Hard to Find in Bel Kaufman’s “Sunday in the Park” Essay

The story “Sunday in the Park” by Bel Kaufman presents both characters of man according to a woman’s point of view negatively, thus stating that a woman could never find a “good man”. The setting which the narrator paints as a common Sunday afternoon sets up the mood wherein she expresses her desire to have a good life with a good man by her side. It has built a surrounding of peace and calmness which the narrator proudly states to herself.

Unfortunately, such expectations are easily defeated by the upturn of events when her son is suddenly bullied by another child and the surrounding suddenly emits a certain tension wherein a mother is poised to protect her child. But the worst scenario that the woman encounters is when her expectation from her husband does not materialize. The character of Morton is shown as an educated family man bound to his books and his social role. He portrays a weak and frail man who cannot defend himself; therefore instead of facing problems, he runs or avoids them.

His evasive character creates an impact wherein the woman feels that no one will be able to defend neither her nor her child. Faced with the arrogant father, Morton says “Come on, let’s get out of here” (Kaufman). His character is a disappointment because of her earlier realization that she wants her child to learn to fight for himself. The narrator mentions, “She always said that she wanted Larry to learn to fight his own battles” (Kaufman). She also expects that her son would not be running from problems, but what Morton has showed is cowardice and a total contradiction to what she wants Larry to learn.

A woman wants her husband to be the protector, one who would show courage or great strength, but in the story the character of the guy is that of a loser which is also shown by some men who are very good in earning money but poor in facing problems. The narrator does not really want a fight to happen just as a woman who wants peace in her everyday life. But as a wife, she has her own expectations from her husband; thus when a man runs away from his own problems the woman is there to gather greater strength from within.

The narrator expects herself as dictated by the society to be the weaker one and backs off when she sees her husband: “She felt a sudden weakness in her knees as she glanced at Morton” (Kaufman). He has become aware of what is happening, which shows that she gets weak as expected of a woman to be and the man to fight for his family as he is expected to. There is a major dent in that certain role of expectations as when a man is with a woman. He should be able to protect her and to show off what he is capable of doing, but Morton is not that kind of man.

Thus in this story, a woman learns to live life struggling alone knowing that she has only herself. The reality that the woman has learned to defend herself has taken step to the point that she finds security in herself rather than in the shadow of a man. She has pulled herself to the point that certain roles in the society are put aside. A woman wants something more than someone to support her but also give her the sense of security and the feeling of being protected, — “She felt dimly it had something to do with her and Morton, something acutely personal, familiar, and important” (Kaufman).

This statement points to the implication to the woman of the confrontation episode she just witnessed. To her, what happened is bigger than what is seems because it affects both her and her son’s capability to stand up for himself. She then takes every aspect into consideration after everything that has happened not only in the physical and financial aspect but also the moral and emotional part of the family.

The character of the antagonist who is the bully of a father portrays a very negative aspect of a man pointing out the fact that there are physically endowed men who are shallow yet daring and bold enough to show courage only in their physical aspects. The arrogant father shows protection to his child in the wrong way. His being uneducated is shown by how he deals with the situation that happens between his son and Larry: “You go right ahead, Joe,” he says loudly (Kaufman). “Throw all you want. This here is a public sandbox.

” His arrogance was supposedly a means of self-defense, hiding his idiocy. The character also shows the lack of proper behavior by some men who would fight even for the wrong reasons. He has showed a justification of his child’s wrong actions and the implication that even it is wrong he teaches his child that he should fight for his so-called rights: “My kid’s got just as good right here as yours, and if he feels like throwing sand, he’ll throw it, and if you don’t like it, you can take your kid the hell out of here” (Kaufman).

The point of view of the narrator which is limited omniscient describes the story as something personal and something the reader should ponder upon with his or her own opinion and add it up with his or her own point of view. The narrator’s point of view wherein she does not fully understand the character of her own husband, Morton and the part wherein what she expected of him is not what he did, would bring the reader to think about the partner in life that he or she is with or is about to be with.

The point of view also reveals how the woman assesses the situation and reveals the real dilemma in the story. In the story it is strongly emphasized that neither characters portrayed a good man. It proves the truth behind those superficially strong guys who are actually weak intellectually and are just arrogant in the outside but shallow in the inside and the truth behind those men who are very successful in business or have professional status but are weak in terms of facing reality.

The story demonstrates that a woman could never find a “good man”, or someone who would fit all the qualifications and expectations that a woman wants a certain man to be. It tells that no man would be capable of doing everything that a woman expects him to do that is why a woman should choose carefully and properly who she should spend her life with. This is not a matter of finding a “good man” but in finding the “best man” for a certain woman.

A man should compliment what a woman doesn’t have and a woman should be what that man is not. Finding a man doesn’t have to be dictated by social rules nor by social status because there will never be such a thing as a “good man”. Work Cited Kaufman, Bel. “Sunday in the Park. ” Professor Emeritus Bruce Taylor Page. University of Wisconsin Eau Claire. 2009. 12 March 2009 <www. uwec. edu/taylorb/Short%20Fiction%20Eng%20274/274%20files/Sunday%20in%20the%20Park. doc>


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