Flannery O’ Conner’s “Good Country People”
In “Good Country People,” O’ Conner’s relates the title to a characteristic common to the characters. The author has used various characters in her story to bring out its theme. Mrs. Hopewell, her daughter Joy/Hulga, Mrs. Freeman and her two daughters Glynese and Carramae, Lyman who is Carramae’s husband, Harvey Hill and Manley Pointer.
Analysis of the Story
An individual who is to be considered as a good country person is one who is empathic – one who thinks of other people’s feelings and is able to put themselves in the shoes of their counterparts in certain situations. Also, to be a good country person entails being understanding. This means that the person gets to understand and accept other people as they are. Being there and looking after the welfare of other individuals is also a character that a good country person is not supposed to miss. This implies being caring and mindful of other people’s well-being without being compelled by others to do so. Honesty is also considered a component that should be there in every individual for them to fit as good country people. Honesty includes not trying to hide feelings and true intentions towards other people.
Most of the characters in O’ Conner’s book in one way or another have shortcomings towards achieving the characters of good country people. Considering all the characters in the story and their behaviors, Mrs. Hopewell has in a special way portrayed herself as having most of the characteristics that befits a country person. She is empathic in the sense that after learning about the type of woman Mrs. Freeman is after employing her, she decides not to try and change her and instead puts her in a position that best fits her character (O’Connor 1). Mrs. Freeman is put in charge of everything. Mrs. Freeman understands her daughter’s attitude as portrayed when she asks Joy to accompany her to the fields where she refuses and utters remarks that hurt her to which she does not get angry.
Mrs. Hopewell’s patient nature makes her cope well with Mrs. Freeman. Mrs. Freeman’s frequent arrivals during meal time and standing on the doorway or against the wall while the others are dining is an intolerable behavior which Mrs. Hopewell patiently keeps up with her realization that there was nothing perfect (O’Connor 3). She is also patient with her daughter who is always rude, bloated and squint eyed as she describes her. When Pointer was feeding her up with stories about his past and family she listens all through although she does not stifle yawns. This shows that she is tired, sleepy or bored. She does not send him off but patiently listens to him.
Manley Pointer’s way of presenting himself as a good country person enables him to win the trust of Mrs. Hopewell who invites him for dinner and even urges him to stay for a little longer time after meals as they talk. He manages to convince Joy to accompany him to the woods and wins her affections when she accepts to get intimate with him in the barn (O’Connor 7). Joy agrees to show Pointer the point where her artificial leg joins her stump after he insists and goes ahead to show him how to take it off and put it back. Manley uses the trust he has won over Joy to steal her wooden artificial leg and her glasses. Before he goes through the hall in the barn he tells her about how he has gotten things he considers interesting. He goes ahead and reveals how he does not appreciate his true identity hence Hulga he cannot be captured easily and with these he disappears.
Joy comes to believe and even trust Manley Pointer. Manley presents her with a liquor bottle and also sees the obscene pictures at the back of the cards, she implies that she thought he was a good country person (O’Connor 17). It is because of the belief that Pointer is a good country person that she agrees to be with him. She tells him that he is a Christian and should give her back her leg. This indicates that in spite of her different perspective at the beginning, she actually believes in the concept of good country people.
- O’Connor Flannery. Good Country People. Nd. Web. 21 April, 1011 http://studio.berkeley.edu/coursework/moses/courses/FS108F10BBk/Good%20Country%20People.pdf
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