Hulga in “Good Country People” Essay

1144 Words Mar 16th, 2008 5 Pages
Hulga in “Good Country People”

“She looked at young men as if she could smell their stupidity” (638). This exemplifies the attitude of Hulga, the protagonist in “Good Country People” by Flannery O’Connor. Hulga is a woman who has been dealt a tough hand in life, and lives with disabilities but still maintains a wrongly arrogant front. Hulga has chosen to believe in nothing, thinking that there is no purpose to life. Through her arrogant actions, ignorance and belief in nothing, Hulga is brought to her downfall and shown the inadequacy of her beliefs in the world and herself. (a major theme in O’Connor’s writing.) O’Connor paints a picture of a woman who thinks she has everything figured out, but her use of irony in the setting shows
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This is taken further, once they meet, Hulga thinking she has him controlled, as can bee seen by the word choice O’Connor uses. Phrases like “he came along panting at her side”, and “breathing heavily behind her” (644), give the illusion that Manly is trying to please her like Venus would Vulcan. Changing her name was a very arrogant action. Her arrogance is a major part of her personality. This is evident in her interactions with Mrs. Hopewell. She obviously looks down upon her as ignorant - she stands up in the middle of a meal and says “do you ever look inside and see what you are not?” (637). The arrogance is evident to the reader, because if Hulga were to really look at herself she would see all that she is not. She obviously thinks of herself as above all the good country people, saying “she would be in a university lecturing to people who knew what she was talking about” (637).
Despite having earned a PhD., Hulga is very ignorant. She exhibits this through her knowledge and actions. Her area of study and what she is passionate about is a staunch belief in nothing. The reader learns this when Mrs. Hopewell opens her book one day and reads “science wishes to know nothing of nothing” (638). Hulga neglects to realize that by wishing to know nothing, she is wishing to be ignorant of many things. Another example of her ignorance is having “the look of someone who has achieved blindness by an

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