Good Country People Literary Analysis Need help with Good Country People in Flannery O’Connor’s Good Country Need help with Good Country People in Flannery O’Connor’s Good Country Need help with Good

Flannery O’Connor’s dismissal of the outside world allows you to understand more of the symbolic quality of all of the active characters. Even the names she chooses for each character help her to establish their significance in the story. O’Connor uses symbolism, good versus evil and the psychological and physiological problems of the characters to create irony in “Good Country People”. O’Connor also uses Biblical parallels for inspiration to depict events in the story. All of O’Connor’s stories have characters that aren’t your typical run of the mill people; she also uses a lot of symbolism and irony in her characters physical appearances. 

The story is divided into four distinct sections which helps emphasize the relationships between the four main characters. O’Connor is able to establish subtle parallels between Mrs. Hopewell and Joy/Hulga, and Pointer and Mrs. Freeman by dividing the story into these sections. It also allows her to show the different sides of each character.

All of these writing techniques help her establish depth in her story and she uses these techniques in nearly all of her stories. “There is very little going on of consequence in the action plot, but massive movement in the character arc” (Jones).

In “Good Country People” O’Connor uses a third person narrator to tell the story of various women. First the narrator introduces two families or very different social stance. Mrs. Hopewell is a widow who lives a life dictated by social accuracy and her daughter Joy/Hulga who only lives with her mother in a physical sense. The name “Hopewell” characterizes both Mrs. Hopewell and her daughter. Both women are individuals who simplistically believe that what they want can be had — although each of them is, in her own way, blind to the world as it really exists.

Both women fail to see that the world (because it is a fallen world) is a mixture of good and evil. This misperception leads them to assume that the world is much simpler than it actually is. Since both Hulga and her mother have accepted this false view of reality, each of them “hopes well” to tailor that made up world to meet her own needs; Mrs. Hopewell by living in a world where cliches operate as truth, and Hulga by insisting that there is nothing behind, or beyond, the surface world. Despite the parallels between Mrs.

Hopewell and her daughter they have a very feeble relationship. Mrs. Hopewell may sound like she has an accepting compassion for everyone and “would probably sum up her inability to understand her daughter-with-a-Ph. D. by saying, “She’s brilliant, but she doesn’t have a grain of sense. ” (CliffNotes. com), but in reality she can’t come to terms with the fact that her daughter is different. She sees Joy/Hulga’s acts of rebellion as annoying, immature pranks done to spite her. In all actuality it is Hulga’s Ph. D. in philosophy that creates a major problem between them.

Mrs. Hopewell wants to be able to brag about her daughter like she does Mrs. Freeman’s but doesn’t feel like she can because “You could not say “My daughter is a philosopher. ” That was something that had ended with the Greeks and Roman” (O’Connor 268). The way her daughter dresses is also something that drives a wedge between them Mrs. Hopewell thinks that Hulga’s wearing “a six-year-old skirt and a yellow sweat shirt with a faded cowboy on a horse embossed on it…Mrs. Hopewell thought it was idiotic and showed simply that she was still a child. ” (O’Connor 268).

Mrs. Hopewell is angry and embarrassed by her daughter’s behavior, “her name change (from “Joy” to “Hulga”) cut such a wound into Mrs. Hopewell that she will never entirely heal” (CliffNotes. com), but ultimately accepts it because her daughter never got to have a “normal good time” (O’Connor 266). Joy/Hulga is in constant contact with a vain but simple-minded mother and an apparently simple-minded but crafty hired woman. At her mother’s failure to understand her, she withdraws completely and refuses to attempt any meaningful relationship with her mother.

She changed her name from Joy to Hulga as part of one of greatest triumphs turning herself into Hulga. Hulga is always trying to escape from the Southern social conventions and stereotypes in which her mother and Mrs. Freeman are immersed. Hulga is very self-assured about herself and her vision of life, which is a nihilistic and atheist point of view; as one of her books reads: “If science is right, then one thing stand firm: Science wishes to know nothing of nothing. Such is after all the strictly scientific approach to Nothing. We know it by wishing to know nothing of Nothing” (O’Connor 268-9).

She is also very proud of her education; she thinks that it makes her superior than all of these “country people” with their simple ways and religious beliefs, and as a result refuses to intermingle with any of the people around her. Hulga is blind to the world as it really is and it is ironic since she attempts to show her mother’s blindness to her and ends up revealing her own. She even fantasizes about showing Pointer how the world really “works” but it’s he who teaches her a lesson about the real world. Then there’s Mrs. Freeman, Mr.

Freeman and their daughters Glynese and Caramae, however only Mrs. Freeman has an active role in the story, her husband and daughters are only used as objects of interest in discussions. The Freeman name is a direct play on the status of the family as tenant farmers. Mrs. Freeman has a clearer view of the world, which is obvious because she doesn’t take Hulga or Pointer at face value, “but she chooses to obsess over the horrible, diseased and grotesque aspects of life” (CliffNotes. com). Mrs. Freeman is depicted as a fairly shrewd woman who is capable of using Mrs.

Hopewell’s blindness to reality, just as Manley Pointer uses Hulga’s blindness to reality for his own selfish advantage. Mrs. Freeman is given attributes that parallel those of Manley Pointer. For example, both Mrs. Freeman and Manley Pointer are seen as “good country people” by Mrs. Hopewell; both have a morbid interest in Hulga’s wooden leg; both of them allow their victims to form an erroneous view of “good country people”; and finally, both Pointer and Mrs. Freeman are described as having steely eyes capable of penetrating Hulga’s facade. Both are also clearly capable of successfully manipulating Mrs.

Hopewell. The introduction of the bible salesman, Manley Pointer, is in and of itself another play on the use of names as symbolic meaning. Manley’s presence is the first and only physical arrival of the outside community in the Hopewell home and the only active male presence in the story. “Mrs. Hopewell thinks about this young man that he is a member of what she calls good country people, the poorer and less lucky people around her” (BookRags. com). In their first date they go to a hayloft where Hulga has the intention of seducing him, but actually Pointer is the one who seduces her.

While she is opening her heart to a possibility of finding love, he steals her wooden leg and leaves her alone and totally defenseless in the hayloft. Pointer uses the facade of a Catholic young Bible salesman to hide his real and evil personality. He uses Mrs. Hopewell’s weakness, her conventional vision of life and people, in order to introduce himself into the Hopewell’s house. He also employs his appearance of country simpleton with Hulga. Pointer puts Hulga into a position where she feels in control.

She thinks that she is manipulating Manley, but he’s actually the one doing the manipulation. Hulga lets down her guard because she feels in such complete control and becomes comfortable with Manley. Pointer seems to be almost an omniscient character because he sees though the appearance and attitude of all of the other characters. O’Connor’s selection of a well-known biblical parallel “He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for my sake will find it,” (New King James Version, Matthew 10:39), clearly depicts Hulga’s rational surrender to Pointer.

Hulga’s epiphany, or moment of grace, occurs as a result of Pointer’s betrayal of her faith in him and his destruction of her intellectual pretensions. Prior to his betrayal of her, Hulga considered herself to be the intellectual superior of all those around her. She relied upon the wisdom of this world to guide her, contrary to the biblical warning to “See to it that no one deceives you by philosophy and vain deceit, according to human traditions, according to the elements of the world and not according to Christ” (New King James Version, Colossians 2:8).

O’Connor uses the final paragraphs of the story to make the parallel which she established earlier between Hulga and her mother even clearer. Hulga has now undergone mortification, and Mrs. Hopewell appears to be facing a future revelation. Mrs. Hopewell’s analysis of Pointer, “He was so simple . . . but I guess the world would be better off if we were all that simple” (O’Connor 283) is as wrong as Hulga’s earlier assessment of Pointer. The final irony in the story involves Mrs. Freeman’s response: “Some can’t be that simple. . . I know I never could” (O’Connor 284). Thus, the reader is left with the impression that Mrs. Hopewell will also have to go through an experience which will destroy the confidence she has in her ability to control and to use Mrs. Freeman.

Works Cited

“Flannery O’ Connor’s “Good Country People” Essay. ” BookRags. BookRags. 06 Oct. 2012 <http://www. bookrags. com/essay-2003/7/1/214939/3918/>. Holy Bible: The new King James version, containing the Old and New Testaments. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Bibles, 1982. Jones, Patricia. An Analysis of Flannery O’Connor’s Good Country People. ” Yahoo! Contributor Network. 7 May 2007. Yahoo. Voices. 06 Oct. 2012 <http://voices. yahoo. com/an-analysis-flannery-oconnors-good-country-people-331673. html? cat=9>. O’Connor, Flannery. 1955. “O’Connor’s Short Stories By Flannery O’Connor Summary and Analysis “Good Country People”” O’Connor’s Short Stories: Summary and Analysis: “Good Country People” 06 Oct. 2012 <http://www. cliffsnotes. com/study_guide/literature/oconnor-short-stories/summary-analysis/good-country-people. html>.

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