Good Country People
“Good Country People”: Role of Religion and Critical Thinking
Flannery O’Connor’s short story “Good Country People” mocks modern philosophy and those who follow it by suggesting that those who turn away from God will be taught, in one way or another, that God is real. The story, which takes place in the south, follows a girl who favors modern philosophy and how she is taken down by what seems to be the divinity of God. Through the characters presented in the story, O’Connor’s beliefs about Christianity and modern philosophy are revealed.
At the beginning of the story, Hulga is introduced as an arrogant girl with a belief in nothingness. She has a PhD in philosophy and sees herself as better than the people around her. The narrator describes her through the eyes of her mother, Mrs. Hopewell; “She was brilliant but she didn’t have a grain of sense. It seemed to Mrs. Hopewell that every year she grew less like other people and more like herself – bloated, rude, and squint-eyed” (1343). Hulga believes in existentialism and philosophy, which is exercise in the denial of God, and she takes arrogant pride in believing that she knows far more than her mother, or any other country person does, because she does not follow God. Flannery O’Connor, having a traditional conception of God, represents all those who believe in modern philosophy through Hulga, and she makes Hulga appear to be a horrible person. Hulga’s birth name is Joy, but she chooses not to go by it. The narrator says, “Her name was really Joy but as soon as she was twenty-one and away from home, she had had it legally changed. Mrs. Hopewell was certain that she had thought and thought until she had hit upon the ugliest name in any language…. Her legal name was Hulga” (1342). This is important because Hulga was given a beautiful name by her mother, who is of the Christian faith. But when Hulga becomes involved and interested in philosophy and the nothingness of the world, she changes her name to something ugly. Her name was chosen by herself, representing the denial of God and the acceptance of something ugly. Hulga, a philosopher who believes in nothingness, represents the way Flannery O’Connor saw those who turned away from God.
During the story, a bible salesman, Manley Pointer, works his way into Hulga’s life. Hulga, being arrogant and full of self-pride, believes she can show Manley the absolute truth, or at least the one she believes. When Manly invites her on a picnic, she agrees because she believes she can turn him away from God. Hulga keeps making it very clear that she does not believe in God throughout their time together. Hulga, when asked if she was not saved by God, says, “’I’m saved and you are damned but I told you I didn’t believe in God’” (1350). Nothing seemed to destroy Hulga’s confidence in her denial of God. Finally, near the end of the story, it is revealed that Manley is not a bible salesman but a fraud who steals from people. When he takes Hulga’s fake leg, she yells at him that perfect Christians like him do not do things like this. He replies by telling her he was never a Christian; “I been believing in nothing ever since I was born!” (1353). Manley was the deliverer of God. He was there to give Hulga slap in the face, to show her that only people who deny God with arrogance the way she did end up in pain. When Manley leaves after stealing Hulga’s leg, she watches from where she is stuck; “When she turned her churning face toward the opening, she saw his blue figure struggling successfully over the green speckled lake” (1353). The way he is described as a blue figure walking over water suggest not that he is God, but the presence of God. Like academics and philosophers, Hulga wants to be in control and always wants to be right. When she is with Manley, she believes he is just another Christian who follows along with everything. She tries to control him and push her beliefs on him. When he turns out to be just like her, she loses her control and gets punished. Manley and Hulga are not good country people because they turned their backs away from God. A belief in God is what makes one seemingly good. Manley being a terrible person, and Hulga having something horrible happen to her both supports Flannery O’Connor’s view of modern philosophy and those who follow it.
“Good Country People” thus mocks modern philosophy and the denial of God. By representing those who do not believe in God in Hulga and Manley, O’Connor is portraying the idea that those who deny God are either terrible people or will be punished. Hulga’s arrogance and belief that she is better than anyone else in her small town made her the perfect target for such cruel behavior. Manley, in being the deliverer of God’s message to Hulga, took away her leg and left her stranded. Flannery O’Connor’s traditional conception of God is presented through Hulga’s tragic tale; according to what O’Connor would believe, she got what she deserved.
Discussion on Whether It is Good to Be Smarter than Everyone Else
Is being an intellectual dangerous? If having more knowledge than another person can cause trouble in 2014, then exceptional intelligence certainly brought even more risks to its bearer in Flannery O’Connor’s society. O’Connor, one of the most well-known Southern Gothic authors, often wrote about the peril of intellectuals in her day. With one of the strangest endings, the short story “Good Country People,” fitting well with O’Connor’s common theme, tells the tale of the grumbling atheist Joy Hopewell and the traveling Bible salesman Manley Pointer. After beginning with a primary focus on the interaction between Joy’s mother and the young man, the story shifts to detail Joy and Manley’s ill-fated romp in the barn where his true colors are revealed and Joy’s wooden leg is stolen. Joy Hopewell’s professed “kind of salvation… [in realizing] that there’s nothing to see” prevents her from looking past the spiritually intellectual fa?ade of Manley Pointer (13), recognizing his true belief that “good country people” do not get far in life (15), and understanding that the two actually hold very similar beliefs.
Although Joy views herself as enlightened, her scholarly belief that human existence holds no deeper meanings blinds her to many aspects of life and relationships. Her narrowness of vision, the reason behind her name change from “Joy” to “Hulga,” shines through in that she “doesn’t like dogs or cats or birds or flowers or nice young men” (4). Joy fails to find joy in nature or people because she believes there is nothing more to them then the fact that they simply occupy space. The polysyndeton of the sentence emphasizes the multitude of objects that have no meaning to her, and in looking at the world in this constrained way, she misses the simple beauty of a rose and finds relatively little happiness in the world around her. Hulga instead concentrates her scientific inquisitions on the philosophical aspects of humanity as a species as opposed to the nature of its individual members and thus “decide[s] that…she [is] face to face with real innocence” in Manley Pointer (14). For a girl that views herself as higher than others in her “economy” due to her supposedly superior intellectual beliefs (12), Hulga fails to look past her own convictions to see the young man for his true corrupt self. If she accepted that her perspective may not always apply to every aspect of life, she might have subsequently used her intelligence to detect Manley’s disguise.
Manley’s fake spiritual ideology that God comes first in his life gives him an air which not only immediately results in praise and trust but also serves as the framework for his deceptive disguise. As soon as the young man announces that he “wants to devote [his] life to Christian service” because he “has a heart condition” and “may not live long,” Mrs. Hopewell invites him to dinner (7). The young Bible salesman’s identification with a religious calling and his similarity to Hulga’s ailment transform him into a perfectly respectable figure of the time. No one would assume that a man so understandably devoted to an upright career path would have a true nature different than what he professes. Even when first alone with Hulga, Manley, reminding her that “[one] can never tell” when the necessity for the Word of God may arise, continues his frontage of religious devotion (12). While deceiving both Mrs. Hopewell and the college-educated Hulga, the “Christian” boy misleads us as readers as well. Before the interaction in the barn loft, there is no way for us to tell that Manley’s mentality differs from what he says. This lack of perception leads to Hulga’s placement of all her trust in him and ultimately to her realization that she should not have afforded him any of her confidence. Manley Pointer raises assurance in his morals and blindsides not only the characters in the story but also the readers by professing a deep and seemingly genuine spiritual intellect.
In reality, Manley, a clever con artist with a cynical outlook on life, believes that being simply good simply holds one back. He tells Hulga that in order to prove her love for him she must “show [him] how to take it [her wooden leg] off and on” (14). He so convincingly twists an emotion that Hulga does not even believe in so that she will make herself completely vulnerable to him. Manley ensures the success of his devious plan by acting so seemingly “in love” with her that she does not think that he would be the one using this feeling against her. Once Hulga recognizes his ploy, he reveals to her that he “may sell Bibles but [he] knows which end is up…and where [he is] going” (15). Though Manley participates in an honest profession, the use of the conjunction “but” indicates that he believes goodness in itself will not get him where he wants to go. He feels as though he must have an advantage over people, such as the other person lacking a leg, in order to achieve his desires. In disclosing his crafty web of lies, the young man reveals his wicked identity in which the only purpose of any good-naturedness is to cover up his schemes.
Although Hulga would never want to admit it, she and Manley Pointer harmonize in their intellectual beliefs more than one might think. Throughout the short story, O’Connor constantly describes Hulga as a “girl” rather than a “woman,” even though she is thirty two, and Manley as a “boy” instead of a “man,” even though he is nineteen, in order to emphasize that other characters view them as immature and childlike. In an intellectual sense, both characters have seasoned mindsets; Hulga’s comes from her extensive and lengthy education and Manley’s derives from his life experiences. Alternately, both truly are puerile in that they fail to identify other aspects of life beyond worldly observations. When Manley professes that God must watch over Hulga, she blatantly says that she “[does not] even believe in God” (11), and later we discover that he does not “believe in that crap” either (15). The dual atheism of the characters highlights how each of them arrived at the same place by different paths. Where Hulga’s search for knowledge leads her to disbelief in God just as it leads her to the barn, Manley’s quest to be in control brings him to an identical place both mentally and physically. Similarly, both confess – or rather openly proclaim – a central belief in nothing (13, 15). Hulga’s conviction influences her to see nothing in the smokescreen of Manley’s spirituality and Manley’s causes him to see nothing in the value of Hulga as a person. Though the characters’ parallel beliefs are deeply mentally rooted, only Hulga’s is roughly uprooted by the end of the story. If Hulga had recognized some of her own characteristics in Manley then she likely would have dealt with him very differently and avoided losing not only her leg but also her dignity and the confidence she held in her own intellectual ideology.
To Hulga Hopewell’s disadvantage, she fails to look beyond her own rigid profession of nothing as she unfortunately views her own intellectual ideas as ultimately superior to those of other people and in doing so fails to identify similar ideology in Manley Pointer and recognize him for his true devious, disbelieving nature. Throughout “Good Country People,” one can easily notice Flannery O’Connor’s repudiation of nihilism, the ideology that “all values are baseless and nothing in the world can be known or communicated” (Pratt). One can see that there is much more to both Manley and Hulga than their ideologies would profess and that moral and religious values do exists, whether they are adhered to or not. Is being an intellectual dangerous? While not all intellect leads to disaster, the tragic end of the story teaches us that a knowing acceptance of nothing is not only ungrounded, but also perilous.
O’Connor, Flannery. “Good Country People.” (1955): 1-16. UFL. University of Florida, 2014. Web. 10 Oct. 2014.
Pratt, Alan. “Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy.” Nihilism. N.p., 2014. Web. 08 Oct. 2014.
The Importance of Names to the Characters in Good Country People, a Short Story by Flannery O’Connor
O’Connor uses names that show the person’s character. For example, Hulga used to be named Joy, but now she no longer uses that name, and goes by an uglier name, Hulga. This shows how her life has lost some meaning, and she just goes through the motions of life, without enjoying it. Meanwhile, Mrs. Hopewell is trying to keep Mrs. Freeman as a tenant, and is trying control her by keeping her involved in everything. However, Mrs. Freeman is actually using Mrs. Hopewell for her own gain. This is shown using the parallels between Mrs. Freeman and Manley Pointer. Both have a steely penetrating look, both seem dull and common, and both are thought of by Mrs. Freeman as ‘good country people’. However, it becomes clear that Manley Pointer is not ‘good country people’ because he reveals himself to be an atheist, and brings out some objects which are very inappropriate. Perhaps Mrs. Freeman is the same, and is only putting on a façade for Mrs. Hopewell to using her.
Mrs. Hopewell often wishes her daughter could just act like a lady and stop doing idiotic things, like being an atheist, or acting rude to people. However, Mrs. Hopewell just doesn’t really understand her daughter, and doesn’t get why Hulga is being so rebellious, when she just really wants her mother’s attention. “The girl, standing square and rigid-shouldered with her neck thrust slightly forward, would reply, “If you want me, here I am – LIKE I AM” (Pg. 2). Hulga desperately wants her mother to walk with her, but refuses to change herself just for her mother. Instead, Mrs. Hopewell decides to walk by herself, leaving Hulga to herself, which adds to her loneliness, and her feeling that her mother doesn’t care for her. Mrs. Hopewell thinks that Hulga is acting that way because of her leg, but it is more than that. Hulga wants her mother to accept her, but because she does not fit into her mother’s view of a good lady, then she is rebuffed and criticized by Mrs. Hopewell.
Truth about Trauma in the Story of an Hour by Kate Chopin and Good Country People by Flannery O’Connor
People like to think they know who they are, their beliefs, what they like, and how they feel about other people. This is even true for characters who share practically nothing in common such as Mrs. Mallard from Chopin’s “The Story of an Hour” and Hulga from O’Connor’s “Good Country People”. However, they are lying to themselves about those feelings and beliefs. They cannot understand these beliefs until they are tested through experience and it must be an experience that shakes them to their core. It must be an experience that traumatizes them. Moreover, they could not have understood their true self until their beliefs were tested through a traumatic experience.
Hulga and Mrs. Mallard both carry core beliefs about their personality. Hulga believes she is an intellectual and a nihilist, and she walks around the house all day berating and degrading everyone because they do not understand what she thought is child’s play. Even to the point where when she takes Pointer up to the hay barn she did so to enlighten him because, “True genius can get an idea across even to an inferior mind. ” She knows that she is smart and everyone around her is dumb and she had convinced herself she was a nihilist and an intellectual that could bridge the gap to this inferior person to show him the error of his ways. She believes this to her core, just as Mrs. Mallard believes that she loves her husband. She believes this to the point that when she heard of her husband’s death she “. . . wept at once, with sudden, wild abandonment. . . ”
Mrs. Mallard immediately cries because she has convinced herself that she truly loves her husband and the proper thing to do was cry about his death. Hulga knew without a doubt she was smart, and Mrs. Mallard knew that she loved her husband. However, both Mrs. Mallard and Hulga’s beliefs were put through a test. Both Hulga and Mrs. Mallard had to experience traumatic events to realize they are lying to themselves. When Mrs. Mallard hears of her husband’s death it is horrible for her. As soon as she is able to stop weeping she “went away to her room alone. ” She is distraught and the thought of her husband being gone shakes her to her core. This event causes her to cry and isolate herself from people who want to help her, and it forces her to think about her true feelings.
As well, the same kind of event happens to Hulga in the hay barn. For most of her life she has been telling herself that she believes in nothing, but then she is horrified to find that she, an intellectual, has been tricked by someone she thought was just “good country people”. This shock that Pointer was not who he claims to be shakes her to her core. The most valuable and private thing in her life, her fake leg, is stolen. She never let anyone see or touch it and she “was as sensitive about the artificial leg as a peacock about his tail. ” So when she finds out the person she thought was a simply country person has tricked her, she is forced to acknowledge how she really thinks and feels.
The conclusion each woman realizes after their event is not what they would have expected. After their respective trauma both Mrs. Mallard and Hulga have to face their true beliefs. When Hulga faces the fact that Pointer is a crook she does not understand. She believes he is “a fine Christian!”, however he is not and she has been lied to. Not only by Pointer, but she has been lying to herself. If she was really a nihilist and believes in nothing as she states, then she would not believe that Christians must be good people and that good country people are unable to steal and lie. She is, as Pointer states, “ain’t so smart”, because she has been lying to herself for most of her life. She does believe that Christians and good country people honest, and therefore cannot be nihilist because she believes in something. She only came to this realization however after her leg was stolen. It took a her a traumatic moment in her life that for her to understand that she does believe certain things and is not who she thought she was. The same kind of realization happens for Mrs. Mallard. After sitting watching nature she realizes something about her husband, that “she had loved him – sometimes”. She now realizes that she felt oppressed by her husband and can now be free to do as she pleases. Again however, this is only possible after she went through the traumatic experience of his death that causes her core beliefs to be shaken. Without this experience she would have simply kept lying to herself that she was happy and fine. With his death she realizes that thing thing that she wants is that “she would live for herself. ” She now sees that she can only be happy without her husband and without the oppression that a husband inherently caused for that time period.
Both Hulga and Mrs. Mallard lie to themselves to the point they did not know they were doing it, and for both of them it took a very traumatic experience to show them that lie. It took Mrs. Mallard’s husbands death to show her that she really only wanted to be free and it took the theft of Hulga’s leg to show her that she was not actually the intellectual nihilist she thought she was. Both are traumatic events that test their beliefs, shake the core of what they believe, and show them what their true beliefs really are.
Characters’ Defects And Flaws In Flannery O’connor’s Good Country People
Flannery O’Connor’s “Good Country People” exemplifies characters’ defects ironic to the title. Rather than highlighting goodness, O’Connor focuses on the bad traits the characters carry. An ideology of Christianity is that one must have a healthy mind, body, and soul, otherwise one may be lacking in faith. This is true of Manley Pointer and Joy-Hulga. Hulga’s encounter with Manley Pointer illustrates that deformities, both real and fabricated, are indicative of a destitute of religion. Joy-Hulga’s prosthetic leg is symbolic of her detestable personality. Her life revolves around her defect, prompting her to have a mean disposition toward everyone. Even her mom says so, though she excuses her poor attitude, “Because of the leg (which had been shot off in a hunting accident when Joy was ten)”. This affects her life even enough to cause her to change her name, from Joy, a beautiful name to fit her personality as a child, to Hulga, “The ugliest name in any language”.
Joy-Hulga’s life is unfulfilled in the eyes of her mother, despite her getting a Ph.D. in philosophy, which did not make Mrs. Hopewell, her mother, proud. Due to the nature of the accident, Joy “had never danced a step or had any normal good times”. In spite of this, she worked hard to obtain a Ph.D. in hopes of making her life meaningful. As described by O’Connor in a consequent essay on her work, “By the time the Bible salesman comes along, the leg has accumulated so much meaning…He has taken away part of the girl’s personality”. The remotion of the prosthetic leg, while an abatement of Hulga’s personality, additionally made her vulnerable. Hulga is humiliated in order to recognize her state of sin, “thus open to grace and redemption”. In other words, she is an atheist given the opportunity to become a believer of god. Initially, Hulga is a character who “Attempts to live autonomously, to define herself and her values”. As the story progresses, her bad attitude is her most defining characteristic, specifically as a result of her leg, as previously noted. Manley Pointer makes Hulga feel comfortable enough by hiding his wickedness, so he can influence her later. The intent of the manipulation is to make her comfortable enough to remove her prosthetic, then take advantage of her. “Without the leg she felt entirely dependent on him.” All of his supplies were prepared in advance, hidden in his bibles. “The cover was hollow and contained a pocket flask of whiskey, a pack of cards, and a small blue box with printing on it”.
In the story, characters are written as lacking spirituality, regardless of how tangible a proposed defect is. The concept of a character lacking spirituality as evident by a defect is an idea displaced throughout the story in various ways. One such example is with Hulga. She has a physical defect and lacks spirituality as well. She believes in science and physical rather than mystical or mythical. Ultimately, despite her attitude, Hulga is not written as a bad person. As mentioned by O’Connor in her essays about her work, “Some of the protagonists in these stories look perfectly normal; others have a physical deformity which is symbolic of a spiritual one”. An example of such is the Bible salesperson. He mentions that he has a heart defect, but later reveals that he is lying about the heart defect. Moreover, he admits to not being religious as well as lying about his name. Specifically, he tell Hulga, “Pointer ain’t really my name… you ain’t so smart. I been believing in nothing ever since I was born!”. While the heart defect is false, he is still written as a bad person lacking spirituality. Flannery O’Connor’s work is typically full of characters with deficits and deformities. These deficits and deformities provide the basis of characterization for these characters. In some instances, these deformities aren’t physical, but the symbolism still applies.
Literary Analysis Of Good Country People By Flannery O’ Connor
Does anyone know what a political cartoonist is? Its literal job description is to enhance a character flaw usually of a politician or the stupidity of a political event by drawing it larger. In other words, a political cartoonist job is to point out people’s flaws and make them known and to maybe push for change. The reason I am saying this is because Flannery O’ Connor dreamed of being a political cartoonist. In her short story, Good Country People, every character has a distinct flaw and the way she points them out is by their names. She is completely transparent, and you will find that by reading this short story. I would describe her theme as an ongoing persona of the characters and their development in relation to the real world.
One of the main flaws in Good Country People is the hypocrisy of humans. For example, Mrs. Hopewell, she is so naïve, and she sees the absolute best in people. “Good country people are the salt of the earth! Besides, we all have different ways of doing, it takes all kinds to make the world go ‘round. That’s life!”. This is one of many times during the short story that Mrs. Hopewell will claim that everyone is good, but in reality, she just turns her back on mankind and refuses to see evil in the world. Joy is another character that demonstrates hypocrisy. She pronounces herself as a self-proclaimed atheist yet has never left her bubble, she spends all of her time reading science books that have explanations for what Christians and Christianity as a whole believe. She thinks she knows everything because all she is surrounded with are “good country people” who are strong in their faith. Mrs. Freeman is another key character. We can see by her name alone it means “free man.” She is on the opposite end of the spectrum of Mrs. Hopewell. She sees the world for how it truly is, she is not oblivious of the evils and wrong doing that humans are capable of, but ironically, she is so interested in other people’s life and drama, she has little freedom and life for herself. Last but not least, a bible salesman named Manly Pointer. He shows innocence yet is evil. There is irony and flaws presented that has a much deeper meaning than just deceiving. It relates to all of mankind. He shows that there are people in this world that claim to be Christians but do not live the lifestyle.
The interesting thing about this short story is that while O’Connor is introducing the characters she is explaining and opening up the amount of hypocrisy that truly is in this world. Not only that, but all of the characters have something to do with each other. Not just because they are in the story but because they all represent something that is deeper and relates to flaws of the world today. One thing about this short story of just some good country people with flaws is that it is timeless. I am not comparing it to the bible in any way, shape or form; or inferring that O’Connor is God. But she hit on something that will always be present, human flaws and sin.
Back to my point in the paragraph above, all of the characters are interrelated. It is a circle of hope, deceitfulness, flaws and realization. It starts with Mrs. Hopewell who is so oblivious to the world but is strong in her faith. To Mrs. Freeman who is so into everyone else’s business she doesn’t focus on her own life. Then to Joy, who changes her name to Hulga because she thinks she is ugly, and it matches her prosthetic leg, and wants nothing to do with society yet cannot cut herself out completely because every human desire attention in some way. Then she met this bible salesman named Manly Pointer who shows Hulga (Joy) that attention that she has been seeking and he takes complete advantage of her. The irony behind that is that he took the only thing that Hulga was attached to in life. “She was as sensitive about the artificial leg as a peacock about his tail” and then it points back to Mrs. Hopewell’s faith. The irony behind all of this is that every character claim to be something and every single one of them learn something from the other. Just like us in the real world. We all learn something from each other every single day. We are all flawed, and we are all at times something we say we aren’t. We can be naïve, up in someone’s business, perhaps atheist or distant from God because of this false sense of Christianity, and then we have reminders of what is good.
An interesting tactic Flannery O’Connor used was pointing out flaws of everyone in the story, the good and the bad. It did not matter who you were in this story, whether you were the atheist or the woman that saw good in everyone, you were not the good person. So, in the end of this story, especially with how it ends, the reader is left with not knowing who to like and who to not like. Or for that matter, knowing the theme. One thing in discussing Good Country People, a criticism online says about this book and about what to take from this story is “O’Connor’s use of criticism simply allows the reader to come closer to what is meaningful and good by unmasking what is not.” This is exactly what O’Connor wants us to take from her story, She deliberately shows flaws of characters from faithful to non-believers because “none are fully developed in their conceptions of what is good and what is meaningful.” Flannery O’Connor puts together a brilliant short story based in the 1900’s and uses their style and language and somehow intertwines the world as we know it today and makes it relatable.
A Bible Salesman’s Hostility In The Good Country People By Flannery O’connor
The Good Country People story by Flannery O’Connor is a psychological drama that leaves a message to the reader about not to judge people for how they look and/or how they behave in a certain situation. The characters like Joy, Mrs. Hopewell, and Manley Pointer are people that have poor intentions and are not an example of being good country people. In the story, a Bible salesman going way to entryway winds up meeting the girl of one of the families he goes to, and in the end, convincing her into stalling out in the space of her outbuilding. To finish his persuading her, he utilizes animosity, appeal, and arguing to accomplish what he needs. From his techniques, we can find out much about how individuals can be conned into accomplishing something. In synopsis, the holy book sales rep could con Hulga on the grounds that he was excessively forceful and enticing in his activities towards her, and his activities unmistakably would have demonstrated that he was a scalawag, if Hulga and Mrs. Hopewell had watched the key indications of his portray.
The primary case of the bible salesman hostility comes when he continued connecting with Mrs. Hopewell to purchase a book of scriptures, and declining to leave, notwithstanding her unmistakable wish for him to do only that. Even when she says, “Well, young man, I don’t want to buy a Bible and I smell my dinner burning.” Flannery O’Connor-Good Country people, the bible salesman does not yield, and in the long run, deceived Mrs. Hopewell into welcoming him inside for supper. While his activities may have seemed real, they were the primary cautioning sign that the book of scriptures sales rep was a scalawag. His persevering frame of mind isn’t one normally taken by the salesman since most sales reps leave when no intrigue at all is appearing in what they are moving. In any case, even long after unmistakably Mrs. Hopewell was not going to purchase a book of scriptures, the sales rep stayed and talked with her, and supplementing her, notwithstanding when unmistakably she needed him to leave. His unmistakable infringement of essential expressive gestures, just as his constancy to draw nearer with the Hopewell family, was a reasonable marker that he was looking for trouble, and couldn’t be trusted, regardless of his guiltless and kind air.
Later on in the story, there is a scene between Hulga and the bible salesman, where he weights her to state that she adores him. Subsequent to giving him some opposition, she, in the long run, gives in and reveals to him that she cherishes him. While influencing her, the bible salesman, “You got to say it. You got to say that you love me.” Along these lines, the bible salesman again sets off a key cautioning sign. His steadiness in alarming, particularly thinking about that expression that you cherish someone is a key advance in a relationship and not one to be hurried. This steadiness from the bible salesman for her to make this critical achievement is obviously forceful and uncalled for. Along these lines, his perseverance is another unmistakable cautioning sign that he isn’t to be trusted. On the off chance that he really thought about Hulga, he would let her make this vital advance when she was prepared, not when he needed her to. By and large, his refusal to withdraw on the issue of saying, His steadiness in alarming, particularly thinking about that expression that you cherish someone is a key advance in a relationship and not one to be hurried. This steadiness from the bible salesman for her to make this critical achievement is obviously forceful and uncalled for. Along these lines, his perseverance is another unmistakable cautioning sign that he isn’t to be trusted. On the off chance that he really thought about Hulga, he would let her make this vital advance when she was prepared, not when he needed her to. By and large, his refusal to withdraw on the issue of saying, ‘I cherish you’, demonstrates that he isn’t to be trusted and that he is maybe a rascal, and not a veritable darling.
The last disturbing indication of the bible salesman is the point at which he demands that Hulga demonstrates to him her wooden leg. Notwithstanding Hulga’s disarray at the demand, he holds on, and she in the long run yields to his desire. Once Hulga consented to indicate him, she contemplated internally, “…it was like surrendering to him completely. It was like losing her own life and finding it again, miraculously, in his”. While she attempts to see this as a stage of closeness, she obviously feels shortcoming, and her very own freedom as an individual emptying endlessly out of her. In this way, it is another reasonable advance of control by the book of scriptures sales rep that ought to have been a notice sign for Hulga. In the long run, he demonstrates that he is a swindler, as he persuades her to evacuate her leg, and takes it, leaving Hulga stuck upstairs in her animal dwelling place. His ask for, and his persuading contention that he expected to see her leg to see her legitimately, is one more cautioning sign that Hulga ought to have seen. Since it was such a strange demand, it was an unmistakable sign that the holy book sales rep was looking for trouble.
By and large, the tirelessness and strange moves made by the bible salesman proposed that he was in reality, not genuinely enamored with Hulga, and was in truth a scalawag. From this proof, we can draw an exercise about the exercises of con artists. The good book sales rep’s conduct, both towards Mrs. Hopewell, and Hulga was forceful, bizarre, excessively influential, and requesting. Despite the fact that sales reps are commonly pushy individuals, the holy book sales rep’s conduct is, over the best, and uncalled for. With these models, O’Connor is instructing her perusers on the exercises of swindlers. Right off the bat, the forceful and meddlesome conduct, just as his tireless requests, is proof of his blame. Along these lines, plainly there are numerous signs that clarify that an individual is a rascal, to be specific relentless diligence to accomplish something that the other individual is obviously standing up to.
The Modern Day Philosophy In The Good Country People By Flannery O’connor
In the short story, “Good Country People” written by the American author Flannery O’Connor, provides a perspective into people’s attitude toward the concept of belief and religion. The author is a woman of the Catholic faith and uses this fictional work to write about the people’s modern day beliefs toward philosophy with morals and beliefs bringing the work to life through the two main characters Hulga Hopewell and Manley Pointer. She expresses her feelings that if you do not have that faith in a higher power and put trust into modern day philosophies you are going to face repercussions.
As the story goes on the main character, Joy “Hulga” Hopewell, demonstrates a great amount of change and character development as shown through her changing her name. One of the reasons she changed her name to Hulga was due to the fact that when people thought of Joy Hopewell they made the association of the broken and sick girl. Hulga in reality was made out to be arrogant, cocky, and felt as if she was was smarter than everybody which continually grew as she aged. The name Hulga really identified her to her philosophy and moral belief; O’Connor possibly chose this name because she felt as if it was fitting to the ugliness of people who do not have faith in God and put their faith elsewhere. She writes “Her name was really Joy but as soon as she was twenty-one and away from home, she had had it legally changed. Mrs. Hopewell Hulga was certain that she had thought and thought until she had hit upon the ugliest name in any language…Her legal name was Hulga”. Hulga also took this chance to change her name as an act of rebellion against her mother because she felt as if she was better than Mrs. Hopewell. The author is of catholic faith and she displays people who are in denial of God through Hulga Hopewell.
O’Connor creates a disposition between of having faith in God or having belief in “nothing” by using characters such as Hulga and Manley Pointer to display varying degrees of faith and putting morals into question. She uses Hulga to be a symbol of the people who do not have a faith in God, and have a belief in existentialism, the denial of God, and modern day philosophy. Hulga feels as if she needs to rid herself of religion’s delusions and falsehoods also with her belief of nothingness she feels that there is no good and bad or right and wrong. When the other main character, Manley Pointer, is introduced to the storyline he put her beliefs into question. Manley invites Hulga on a date and she agrees because she feels as if she can change his ways turning him away from God. At the end of their date Manley reveals his true colors by stealing Hulga’s wooden leg and opens his hollowed out bible only to show unholy things; Finally confronting her by shouting “I’ve been believing in nothing ever since I was born!” This shows O’Connor’s feelings towards those who are non-believers making it seem as if those who do not place their beliefs in God they will suffer in the end. The author uses the title “Good Country People” to refer to the people who believe in God, since Hulga and Manley do not believe in God they are not deemed as those. O’Connor writes “Good Country People” to attempt to make a mockery of the modern day philosophy through the main characters. She uses Hulga’s character to express how the author believes that people who act in such a manner will receive what they deserve, Manley being the one who delivers it to her.
A Good Man is Hard to Find: One of the Stories from Collection
Flannery O’Connor’s short story “A Good Man Is Hard to find” presents the complexity of human life by telling a story of a family trip that turned brutal. Ideally, it is challenging to understand the nature of human beings. The story strives to help people understand the concept of a “good man” which, as presented by the author, is controversial just like the nature of man. Flannery O’Connor’s idea of a good man seems to revolve around Christian realism, ethics and internal character. People have different views and beliefs in life which influence their perceptions about others and life in general. The concept of a good man continues to create hot debate, particularly in ethics in a quest to understand the definition of a good person. Do good men exist is a significant question which the author does not answer but instead allows the reader to perceive a good man independently. The complexity of human nature makes it difficult to certainly describe a good man because goodness is relative and dependent on people’s beliefs and perceptions.
O’Connor’s idea of a good man focuses on the dualities of good and evil. The story uses grandmother and Red Sam to explain what makes a good man. Ideally, the goodness depends on a persons both internal and external characters which can be evaluated using social norms that specifies the good and the bad. However, as argued by Rea (194), O’Connor’s differs from typical understanding of goodness to suggest that it depends on something else. For example, Grandmother believes that to be good a person must be honest, polite and respectful. Gale (7) says that Grandmothers obsession and connection to appearance and the irresistible desire to be a good lady depicts that goodness depends on other people’s perceptions. The story uses grandmother to pinpoint the controversial attribute of goodness by depicting her contrary to what she believes of herself. According to Hani (343), grandmother is hypocritical and does not care about the safety of her family. The ultimate demise of her family originates from her hypocrisy which compels her to misguide them towards the mysterious house. Her reckless insults contradicts her strong belief that to be good a man you must be respectful. The woman is manipulative, dishonest and blatantly hypocritical, using double standards to evaluate goodness (Rea 193). She is quick to notice other people mistakes. She is quick to command morality from June Star “Aren’t you ashamed?” (O’Connor 196) but does not take personal shame in her insults “Little n*ggers in the country don’t have things like we do (O’Connor 194). From mainstream social norms, being good meaning being caring and loving others, virtues that Grandmother does not possess. In the face of Misfit, her selfishness is depicted when she cries begging for her life. “You wouldn’t shoot a lady” (O’Connor 198). Evidently, people have diverse views, beliefs and perceptions which influence their reaction and contact towards other making it difficult to identify a good man.
The author makes a deep dive into philosophy and religion in attempts to understand goodness and evil. The story suggests that being good or evil is a personal interest which may be controlled through exposure to grace and violence. As noted by Rea (201) the grandmother and her family member are blind to morality and their actions are influenced by personal interests. Arguably, we all have a moral responsibility towards others and being hypocritical is ethically perceived to be wrong and evil. According to Gale (12), truthfulness in our actions is a manifestation of moral thoughts and a demonstration of commitment to be good. Human beings are naturally complicated and often fake ignorance to deviate from their moral obligation to goodness. O’Connor’s searches in Christianity to explain the connection between goodness and religion and the extent to which Christianity may be applied in pursuit of goodness. Vala (223), uses catholic traditions to explain that religion brings people to their moments of grace setting them on the path of goodness. The author complicates the initial conception of a good man when he says “She would been a good woman… if it had been somebody there to shoot her every minute of her life” (191). The story implies that exposure to violence and physical pain has the potential to change people’s behavior, place them in their moments of grace and eventually guide them into being good people. According to Vala (225), O’Connor’s perception of goodness goes from internal and external traits to a spiritual form which man is limited to discern. The incompatibility between violence and grace makes it difficult to understand the difference between the right and the wrong hence the concept of a good man cannot be established confidently..
The story explores theme of forgiveness and punishment adding on to the concept of goodness, forcing the reader to question more than being good and bad. Based on social constructs, evil is punished to bring bad people into their moment of grace. Also, the act of forgiveness is demonstration of one’s willingness to pursue goodness. Hani (331) says that O’Connor evokes a controversial question whether forgiveness and punishment makes one a Goodman. The conversation between Grandmother and Misfit reveals that Misfit punishment did not lead to the implied grace since he does not remember why he was imprisoned. As pointed by Gale (15), there is unclear connection between goodness and punishment because sometimes punishments are unjustifiable. Hani (335) rejects the power of forgiveness and punishment in shaping human behavior due to absence of standards measures to weigh the intensity of punishment and forgiveness. The grandmother’s family is killed because she recognized Misfit’s face which was ultimately a grave mistake.. “You’re The Misfit….I recognized you at once” (199) is a mistake that could be corrected with forgiveness but instead it was met with immense violence and evil. Having recently escaped from the prison, Misfit perhaps perceived himself as a bad man. The Misfit’s actions depicts that being a good man depends on our personal interests and perception of the world. As Flannery (201) states, “the beautiful thing to do in world enjoys one’s days causing violence and turmoil”. Vala (226) observes that the world is itself explicitly evil and goodness can thrive in it. Looking at the scenario from a Christian standpoint, O’Connor believes that forgiveness is divinely powerful to the bad and the evil. The ability to transform bad to good is given a spiritual focus. The encounter with her moment of grace compels grandmother to forgive Misfit for killing her family and even threatening to kill her. From a Christian point of view, forgiveness gives a person inner peace and composure which changes their perceptions about the wrong and right. Such strong beliefs and actions are difficult to find in people.
The short story argues that immorality has deprived the world of its good men but does explain the change in human nature that caused the decline of morality. Hani (340) observes that it is challenging to accept or refute Grandmother’s argument that previously it was easy to find good men because understanding the nature of goodness is itself a puzzle. According to Rea (257), O’Connor uses theme of moral decay to present two diverging societies, a traditional society whose kindness has been brutally devoured by modern nihilism. Red Sam agrees that society has changed and insecurity increased compared to the past years. As argued by Vala (227), the moral decay in modern society is perpetuated by human individualism and the control of power. Ideally, modern men withdraw power from competition making them defenseless and controllable. Misfit’s killings are triggered by lack of traditional morals which emphasize on kindness and respect. Gale (18) says that Misfit’s evil is evident in the manner he kills the family. The troublesome Bailey is killed first leaving the entire family defenseless and entirely vulnerable. The violent act of The Misfit are triggered by perceived lack of respect from Grandmother and Bailey. Besides morality, the act of forgiving The Misfit seems to have emotional touch on his perception of goodness. He says “It’s no real pleasure in life” (142) which suggests that despite being a bad man he was ready to change and be a good man. The assumption that absence of good men is due to moral decay does not present a logical connection between goodness and morality.
The story has widely explored the complexity of human beings and limitations to understand human nature and its connection with goodness. As illustrated there is not definite and precise approach in which the concept of goodness can be understood without going into the nature of human beings. The author raises social constructs to state that absolute goodness does not exist in the modern evil world where people are increasingly selfish, petty and obsessed with vagueness. In addition, the inability to establish what being evil is makes it harder to find out what being a good man actually is. The dive into religious faith and forgiveness illustrated that goodness is relative to a person’s beliefs and perceptions of the world. The act of forgiveness is delicate, requiring strict faith and action which are rare among typical people.
Self-image Problems in Good Country People Novel
As we enter the Digital Age, we are readily exposed to media’s idea of beauty. The media slowly implants its distorted view into our minds that we can only be beautiful if we have long legs, voluminous hair, and curves in all the right places. We find ourselves valuing heavily on the information and advice from magazines on beauty, fashion, and diet plans. These unrealistic standards pressure us into thinking that the media’s definition of beauty is the only definition of beauty. Both Andre Dubus’s The Fat Girl and Flannery O’Connor’s Good Country People reveals how societal standards cause weakened mentalities, insecurities, and desires to change our figures. By extension, the two authors imply that beauty comes in all forms, so we should learn to completely accept our current body image for the right reasons. Dubus’s use of images of the characters, character foil, and numbers and O’Connor’s use of purposeful names, kitchen setting, and point of view contribute to each author’s unique take on the same message.
Since the beginning, Dubus has been smuggling in descriptive images of every female character to contrast body shape expectations with reality. For example, Louise’s mother is “slim and pretty” and “ate very little” (45). Genetics place this high probability that Louise should be slim too. Even though her mother is slim, she has determination and strong will to resist food temptations. In another example, Joan is “thin, gangling, and flat-chested” (46). Dubus mentions the flat-chest last to prime the audience into thinking that Joan has the ideal body up until we read about her only physical flaw. It is implied that society believes that women with big breasts are attractive. All the females in this short story are skinny, including the unnamed mysterious girls from college. This causes Louise to hate her body, ultimately forcing herself to commit to a strict diet plan. Although Dubus relates body image with the success of getting married, he argues that Louise should be losing the weight for herself, not to seek a marriage partner.
Another contrasting technique is the meaningful character foils. It is evident that Louise’s parents are mirrors of each other based on their dialogues and the way they treat their daughter. Her father says, “Oh give her a potato,” but her mother argues “If she has a potato, she shouldn’t have dessert” (45). Her father then suggests that she should have both. We see that the mother as someone strongly cares about how her daughter is presented to society. She believes that if Louise has a nice body, she will get better treatment from boys. Her body type would ultimately determine whether she will be married or not. However, the father believes that boys should love Louise for her personality, not her figure. It seems like her father is nurturing her the right way because it does not promote Louise’s sneaky habits of eating. However, Louise should learn to accept her figure by eating publicly. The society and her mother enforces Louise’s desire to lose weight. If she does have the this intention, she should slowly decrease the food consumption before strictly limiting herself to a set number of calories and meals per day.
Finally Dubus uses numbers to indicate the significance of the weight number to a female. Every time Louise weighs herself, we see some sort of reaction from herself, her family, and her friends. For instance, after jotting down one hundred and sixty-two pounds in her notebook, Carrie was “afraid if Louise went home at Thanksgiving she would lapse from the diet” (52). This number evokes fear in Louise and Carrie because they know how easy it is to succumb to good food. We learn that dieting requires compassionate support and continuous efforts. On Easter Sunday, when she was one hundred and twenty pounds, Louise “felt she was being friendly with a recalcitrant enemy who had once tried to destroy her” (53). This is an analogy: Louise is to food as friend is to enemy. Food may be harmful to her body, but Louise reminisce the times where she could just indulge in her cravings. The “recalcitrant enemy” is an oxymoron. As long as Louise eats accordingly, the food or the enemy will not fight back and ruin her shape. In this case, Louise has control over the detrimental effects of the enemy. During the period of dieting, we do not see any increase in weight. Louise slowly becomes obsessed with her weight number and scaling herself has become a habitual routine.
Now onto O’Connor’s side of the spectrum: he uses purposeful names to highlight their characteristics. Mrs. Hopewell names her daughter Joy, which places expectations on a infant that hasn’t even started living her life. She changes it to Hulga because of its “ugly sound” and her “vision of the name working like the ugly sweating Vulcan” (3). The Vulcan is a biblical allusion to the god of fire and also the dark star companion of the Sun who sparks religious wars. All this reflects Hulga’s miserable life filled with inevitable obstacles like her weak heart, her amputated leg, and her suffocating routine. It’s her wooden leg that physically isolates her from society. Others perceive her as an outcast when in fact she is one of them, with feelings, thoughts, and dreams. Although she cannot retrieve her leg, she can prove her capability. That is why she worked studiously for a Ph.D. In philosophy. However, underlying the name that sounds like the female version of the Hulk is her vulnerability. Instead of trying to disprove society, Hulga should accept her disability and slowly start interacting with the right group of people outside her household who will also accept her as a regular human being.
Next, by not mentioning any scenes from the other quarters in the house, O’Connor actually amplifies the importance of the kitchen setting. Whether it is breakfast, lunch, or dinner, Mrs. Freeman “always managed to arrive at some point during the meal and to watch them finish it” (2). Mrs. Hopewell, Hulga, and Mrs. Freeman are trapped in this awkward space. Hulga needs an emotional escape from this routine and a physical escape from this household. Hulga blames her leg for hindering her from taking action and inhibiting her from experiencing happiness. Therefore, when Manley Pointer comes into her life, Hulga eagerly follows him and escapes into a delusional happiness. Had she accepted her condition, she could have made some friends who would share genuine quality moments with her bounded by trust.
Finally, O’Connor uses third person omniscient point of view to reveal the thought processes of Hulga and Mrs. Hopewell and their awareness of the image the leg gives off. Her mother thinks that if Hulga “would only keep herself up a little, she wouldn’t be so bad looking” (3). Mrs. Hopewell believes that the wooden leg should not obstruct Joy from finding a marriage partner. She has the potential to lure a male in if she would just groom herself, dress more femininely, and style her hair. To Hulga, however, that leg is her vulnerability even though she appears to be arrogant and independent. After Pointer tenderly takes off her leg, she repeats “give me my leg” (13). Although Hulga learns to accept her artificial limb, face her insecurities, and entrust it with Pointer, she did it for the wrong reasons. She desperately wants someone to love her entirely and even imagines erotic scenes with him because she wants to experience normal dates that other teens experience at her age.
There are many reasons why we are drawn to The Fat Girl and Good Country People. A close analysis of the self-image problems evident in these two short stories shows us how relatable they actually are. One argues for the justice of fat people while the other argues for the justice for disabled people. Fat people should not be ridiculed for their body shape. Even the media thinks that top models are still not perfect enough and thus resorts to Photoshop. On the other hand, disabled people should not be ostracized for something they have no control over. Either way, both fat and disabled people are still humans with humanistic qualities. They should not be subject to society’s negative influence if they do not want to be. We have to remember the rule we learned as kids: do not judge people based on their appearances. Even if the media makes it difficult for us to follow this rule, we have to learn to value their intrinsic qualities.