Good Country People Essay
Flannery O’Connor’s “Good Country People,” is written in third person while using the omniscient narrator to focus on different character’s consciousness throughout the story. Therefore, the reader knows what some of the characters are thinking about; so he/she is able to see the irony involved in the story. O’Connor’s use of symbolism in the choice of name is almost of being ironic, and humorous; furthermore much of the irony is implied in the title of the story, “Good Country People. ” Hulga the protagonist of the story is a presumptuous and self-centered character, who has transformed herself to live a life of believing in nothing.However, by the end of the story, Hulga is met with situations that will ultimately change how she views herself and the world.
O’ Connor’s use of name seem to give indications about the personalities of the character, rather than simply being a random name. Hulga, the daughter of Mrs. Hopewell, is named Joy when she is born; Joy loses one of her legs in a hunting accident at the age of ten, and suffers from a heart disease.
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Hulga’s wooden leg has come to symbolize her, and what she thinks of the world.The leg is an ugly, bulky, horrible thing, much like how Hulga feels about herself. When Joy-Hulga lost her leg, her life took on a new direction, changing from the happy Joy to the ugly and mean Hulga. Due to all the hardships she’s going through, at thirty-two she still lives with her mother, and is very negative about life. The highly educated Hulga feels superior to those around her due to their lack of education and complexity.
Hulga has no control over the negative emotions she feels, and allows these events to shape the remainder of her life.Although, Hulga is characterized as brilliant and intellectual, but she is naive to the feelings and motivations of others. Ironically, Hulga has a Ph. D.
in philosophy, yet she has a very narrow view of her world and no insight into other people’s true character like Manley Pointer. Is also ironic how Hulga contradicts herself when saying “Malebranche was right: we are not our own light. We are not our own light! ” (O’Connor 420). Malebranche is a French Philosopher whose belief is that all ideas exist only in God, but Hulga considers herself as an atheist who believes in nothingness.On the other hand, Mrs. Hopewell’s name is very symbolic of the good that there is in her. Hopewell is an interesting name because it sort of alludes to part of her disposition. She is always “hoping well” for her daughter and her neighbors.
Her favorite sayings are “Nothing is perfect, That’s life,” and “Well, other people have their opinions too” (O’Connor 417). This is suggesting that she is a care- free person who always looks for the best in everything. She also said that “people who looked on the bright side of things would be beautiful even if they were not” (O’Connor 421).Mrs. Hopewell always looks for the good in everyone.
O’Connor’s use of irony is demonstrated from the beginning till the end of the story. As the story opens, we meet Mrs. Freeman, She and her husband have been working for Mrs. Hopewell for four years.
The reason for keeping the Freemans so long is that they are not trash according to Mrs. Hopewell “She had good country people and that if, in this day and age, you get good country people, you had better hang onto them” (O’Connor 418). Ironically one of the first things we learn about Mrs.Freeman is that her previous employer called her the nosiest woman ever to walk the earth. Then, as the story progresses, we learn she likes to listens to other people’s secret said, especially enjoys hearing all the details of how Hulga lost her leg in the hunting accident, and will not admit when she’s done wrong.
Mrs. Hopewell also says that Mrs. Freeman’s two daughters Glynese and Carramae are fine girls, but Glynese’s got a lot of admirers and Carramae is fifteen, married and pregnant. How can the Freemans be good country people when they each have a flaw?A person’s appearance can be deluding; no one is really the way they appear to be. A person might present themselves as being sweet, and trust worthy, while in reality they’re completely opposite. Manley Pointer, the Bible salesman, is a complex, and difficult to understand character. Manley, which is not his real name, at first, present himself as a standard Christian boy simply trying to sell Bibles. People who appear to be good Christian people are expected to do things that good Christian people are supposed to do.
Manley looks to be a good Christian boy who only wants to help, and is concerned with Christian service. Hulga, on the other hand is an atheist and her character is someone who wants to take advantage of the good Christian boy and seduce him. But, the truth comes to be Manley taking advantage of her. The illusion that all “country people” are good, honest people but the in reality everyone has some bad or evil in them. Throughout the story it is clear that Hulga wants to have total control over her life and belief system, and thinks she’s doing very well with it.But, Hulga’s lack of dependence on others may be the cause of her emotional downfall, when she realizes that she can’t depend solely on herself. Hulga is shut off from a proper communion with God, not because she is evil, but because she thinks she has within herself everything she needs to be a functionally complete person. Her pride and wisdom as well as her emotions could also be the reason for her gullibility and her being easily manipulated by Manley Pointer.
Works CitedO’Connor, Flannery. “Good Country People. ” Reading And Writing About Short Fiction. Ed. Edward Proffitt.
Boston: Thomson Heinle, 1988. 416-433.