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The Good Samaritan

This study guide will help you analyze the short story “The Good Samaritan” by Charles Ardai. You can also find a summary of the text, as well as inspiration for interpreting it. 

Presentation of the text

Title: “The Good Samaritan” (2006)
Author: Charles Ardai
Genre: Short story

Charles Ardai (b. 1969) is an American writer and the son of Holocaust survivors. He is also the editor and founder of Hard Case Crime, which publishes crime novels. Ardai writes crime novels and short stories and has won several awards. 

Excerpt:

Below, you can read an excerpt from our study guide:

Symbols

The symbol of the Good Samaritan is probably the most powerful one in the story. The story of the Good Samaritan is found in the Bible. In the story, a Jewish traveler is beaten and left almost dead on a road. The man is ignored by two people who pass by that road, but a Samaritan stops and helps him, although Samaritans and Jews did not like each other. Today, the phrase Good Samaritan is often used to refer to a person who offers help to a stranger, often expecting nothing in return.

In the story, Arthur thinks of himself as the Good Samaritan, who saves homeless people and puts them out of their misery. The detective also takes on this role when he kills Arthur, thus making sure that the man will not kill any more people. The end of the story also mentions the Good Samaritan when the news talks about a man probably willing to help Arthur by giving him a blanket. Both in Arthur’s case and in the detective’s case, the symbol of the Good Samaritan is used ironically, as their acts are ultimately evil, despite their good intentions. 

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The Good Samaritan

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