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Irony and Characterization in O’Connor’s Good Country People

Good Essays
“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…show more content…
Then she had gone and had the beautiful named, Joy, changed without telling her mother until after she had done it. Her legal name was Hulga.” Joy-Hulga does not hope well for the people around her. For her, life is beyond hope, or belief in anything. In her mind this indifference makes her vastly superior to those around her. O’Connor depicts Joy-Hulga as person deformed physically and spiritually. Although she is highly educated, she lives an unproductive and unhappy life. A state she blames on a weak hart and a missing leg. Conditions that can be seen as allegorical to her presumptuous, embittered nature. She is joyless, relegating herself to the company of individuals who she feels cannot, “understand her, because of her superior intellect. She expects that they are inferior because of their “simple ways”, their religious beliefs, and their lack of education. For Joy-Hulga Hopewell believing in nothing is her accomplishment, accomplishment as a philosopher.
In addition to the characterization of Joy-Hulga O’Connor’s depiction of Mrs. Hopewell creates irony that begins with her names. Like joy, Mrs. Hopewell, is full of the same limiting perceptions of those around her. Demonstrated by the belief that country people are “good”, or the “salt of the earth.” In much the same way Joy’s impairment results in Mrs. Hopewell’s perpetual assumption that joy is like a child. She regards her with
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