Flannery O'Connor's "Good Country People" is a story told through the examination of the relationships between the four main characters. All of the characters have distinct feelings about the others, from misunderstanding to contempt. Both Joy-Hulga, the protagonist, and Manley Pointer, the antagonist, are multi-faceted characters. While all of the characters have different levels of complexity, Joy-Hulga and Manley Pointer are the deepest and the ones with the most obvious facades.
Good Country People by Flannery O’Connor is a story with a lot of ironic elements in it. These are mostly found in the way that the characters depict themselves in contrast of how they truly are. For example, Mrs. Hopewell says that she has no bad qualities of her own, but she is a constant liar is an how she happened to hire the Freemans in the first place and how they were a godsend to her and how she had them for four years. The reason for keeping them for so long was because they were not trash” (O’Connor 247). Mrs. Hopewell is not the only hypocrite in this story; Manley Pointer is also incredibly hypocritical, fake, and manipulative. He depicts himself as a “Bible salesmen”, but in reality he is a con artist. When Hulga opens up his Bible, she sees a flask of whiskey, cards, and condoms in it. This would be seen as incredibly offensive and sinful to a Christian. According to Thomas F. Gusset, “Joy/Hulga begins to discover that the Bible
In the short story by O’connor, “Good Country People”, religion plays a major role in every aspect. From the characters all the way to the objects that are introduced in the story. The main characters which are Hulga and Manley have complete opposite views in life but Manley pretends he has the same as Hulga in order to accomplish his goal which O’connor puts into the story as dark humor in order to set a tone at the end of the story. In order for this to happen O’connor makes Manley a character which does not believe in religion at all and he pretends to be this good old country guy who is selling bibles and stumbles along the very unstable home of Hulga. Now Hulga in the other hand is a character that has minor religion beliefs but is a very isolated person who believes that everything has no meaning in the world according to Carle K. (55-56)
“Good Country People” is a story written by Flannery O’Connor in 1955. It is a story written about four main characters; Mrs. Hopewell the overprotective mother, and Mrs. Freeman the helping hand, Manley Pointer the bible and Joy Hulga the dependent scholar. Mrs. Hopewell is Joy’s mother and Mrs. Freeman is there maid. Manley is the bible salesman’s who goes town to town scamming people. The story talks about good country people and who are considered good country people. As soon as Joy was old enough and away from her mother, she changed her name is Hulga. Joy Hulga has a problem with not being able to accept that the world has good and bad people. Joy Hulga has a chip on her shoulder about everything that transpire throughout “Good Country People”. Joy Hulga’s unapologetic attitude, harsh treatment from others and belief in people bring about her downfall in “Good Country People”.
To begin with, Flannery O’Connor’s “Good Country People,” describe the live of a mother, Mrs. Hopewell and her daughter, Joy and the irony of their relationship. During this time women were not seen as equal to men as they are in today’s southern society. Women had more of a domestic role, while men were educated and worked to support the family. In O’Connor’s “Good Country People”, the characters in the story provide evidence where they are stereotyping others. For example, the text states “She could not help but feel it would have been better if the child had not taken the Ph.D.” (O’Connor 370). This statement is from Mrs. Hopewell this statement shows how she thinks that education have not had positive affect on Hugla also, she does not have much desire for her daughter education. Than eventually stating “it
Similarly, Joy/Hulga is forced to face her pride in O'Connor's "Good Country People." Bruce L. Edwards, Jr., notes that "Hulga sees herself as liberating people from their illusions, believing she has none of her own" (901). Joy/Hulga's perspective on life is bleak and realistic. She achieves a Ph.D. in philosophy and believes in the simplicity of believing in nothing. Her mother holds to simple Southern beliefs that manners and tact determine a person's goodness. It is for this reason that she views the Bible salesman as a good person. Joy/Hulga sees through her mother's shallow country ways and despises her for it. Besides her beliefs, her wooden leg is also the center for her pride. She "is as sensitive about the artificial leg as a peacock about his tail" (O'Connor, "Good Country People" 404). She uses it for attention when stomping around the house and for security when refusing to reveal its secrets to Manly Pointer, the Bible salesman. However, Manley is not as shallow as he seems but turns out to bring Joy/Hulga to her point of grace. He robs her security and leaves a helpless, vulnerable, and bewildered new person to reestablish her beliefs. Joy/Hulga has had her pride stripped away and must now change herself.
The narrator only compounds the laughable idea that these women are up to par with the average reader--after all, O'Connor was a well educated woman, writing for the literate--when he/she notes Mrs. Hopewell's "charitable" pride of Mrs. Freeman: Mrs. Hopewell liked to tell people [...] that Mrs. Freeman was a lady and that she was never "ashamed to take her anywhere" (Diyanni 172). The reader is inclined to laugh even harder at this, a terrible irony, after having already established both ladies as simple, "good country people." Of course, most of the true irony or humor found in O'Connor's stories is not found in the immediate and obvious. If we were to consider only Mrs. Hopewell and Mrs. Freeman in the context in which they are presented to us in the beginning of the story, then we would have to conclude that O'Connor is in fact making fun of the faithful. Fortunately, she is a much better writer with a much deeper intent than that; as the story develops, so does the integrity of the "simple people." This eventual increase in status is something unexpected, especially since O'Connor supplies the reader with a perfectly acceptable, intellectual character with which to relate: Joy, or more fittingly, Hulga.
“Good Country People,” is a classic example of the use of irony as a technique for imbuing a story with meaning. Irony works on many different levels through the piece. Examples of this range from O’ Connors use of clearly ironic dialogue to the dramatic irony that unfolds between Manley and Joy-Hulga. However the most obvious examples can be found in O’Connor’s characterization of these, “Good Country People.” The technique of irony is applied prominently to the character’s names and behaviors to present the contradictions between their expectations and their reality. O’Connor uses her characters to explore common notions regarding, “good” and “bad” people. Using their expectations for one another, O’Connor ultimately expose their
O’Connor also poses the contrast between the old and new South in her short story “Good Country People”. Mrs. Hopewell and Mrs. Freeman represent the old South because of the way in which they carry themselves and their traditional beliefs and values. Mrs. Freeman works for Mrs. Hopewell who states “the reason for her keepin her so long was that they were not trash. They were good country people”(O’Connor 272). Mrs. Hopewell describes Mrs. Freeman and her two daughters as “two of the finest girls she knew and Mrs. Freeman was a lady and that she was never ashamed to take her anywhere or introduce her to anybody they might mett”(O’Connor
O'Connor's use of violence holds a similar yet restrained quality in "Good Country People", although there is a shift in its use and context. Hulga, like the grandmother, has her anti-social qualities, which, in Hulga's case, protect her from the world in which she feels vulnerable. The conflict/resolution to "Good Country People" comes at the end, when Hulga leads the Bible salesman to an abandoned barn with the hopes of seducing him. Little to her knowledge, the salesman is not a "good country" guy as she would like to believe. Hulga receives the salesman's kisses with no real passion, but as kind of a bitter curiosity. As the old saying goes though, curiosity killed the cat.' Hulga indulges in Manley Pointer's apparent ease by responding to his requests of her to say "I love you." This allows the Bible salesman to confirm Hulga's overconfidence and take advantage of the weakest point in her life, her leg. The
In Flannery O’Connor’s stories, many of her stories reflect on a common theme relating to Christianity and how the characters are reflected as supposed heroes even though some came off as evil and twisting plots. In many of her short stories, she reflects what she was brought up with which is the conflict with beliefs in the North and South, Old versus New views, Christianity, and Atheism. Stories such as “Good Country People” which reflected and played a huge part on religion, society and how she portrayed it.
There are many themes within Flannery O’Connor’s short story “Good Country People”. Religion is definitely one of the more prominent themes that the story holds. Like most of O’Connor’s works, it plays a big part in the actions or characteristics of the main characters. This is all on the surface however. The more important and less accentuated theme is the various facades the characters create for themselves. These facades prevent them from facing their true “grotesque” selves. These facades also hide their weaknesses that they have no wish to face ort just can’t understand. People must be comfortable with every aspect of themselves, because certain people, who in this story
Knowing Flannery O’Connor’s religious conviction, one cannot overlook this underlying tone in both of her regarded stories “A Good Man is hard to Find” and “Good Country People”. It is often said of those who stand outside of religious conviction that faith seems to come in handy to people only when it is valuable to get them out of a predicament, of which they have likely placed themselves through insensitive behavior and decisions. In such a desperate attempt to appeal to faith, one only finds emptiness and a fate that leaves them hopeless or even dead. O’Connor’s “A Good Man is Hard to Find” and “Good Country People” illustrate that the inability to see the flaws in one’s self lead to substantial consequences, where an appeal to faith