In the short story, Good Country People, Flannery O Connor opens with a description of Mrs. Freeman. Specifically, she describes Mrs. Freeman’s interactions with Mrs. Hopewell. O’Connor says these two women often converse over breakfast in the Hopewell kitchen and that Mrs. Freeman has worked for Mrs. Hopewell for four years.
The nosy Mrs. Freeman is a problem in the Hopewell household. Mrs. Hopewell hired her to be that way because she didn’t want to do it herself and has taken measures to ensure that Mrs. Freeman can do her job correctly by putting her in charge of everything. The daughter, Hulga, stomped into the kitchen that morning. She was born Joy, but her mother refused to call her by that name. Instead, Mrs. Hopewell chose to call her Hulga because she loves ugly things. The housekeeper, Mrs. Freeman, loves calling her Hulga because she loves ugly things.
Mrs. Freeman’s gaze drove forward relentlessly as if it were a projectile. “What was that you were saying about Ruth’s lye soap?” she asked. “I’m going to tell her that her grandchildren won’t want to wash their heads with her soap.”
Hulga meets Manley, a nice dull young man, who asks her about her wooden leg. When Mrs. Freeman realizes that the two are talking about the wooden leg, she interrupts the conversation with a seemingly unrelated question. “You know what I think? I think you’re in love with that thing,” Mrs. Freeman said, grinning maliciously.
In Good Country People, Flannery O Connor effectively reveals Mrs. Freeman’s personality through her facial expressions, dialogue, and the essential nature of her profession. Mrs. Freeman sees a blue figure struggling successfully while Mrs. Freeman in a yellow sweat-shirt struggles with a stub. Round freezing blue eyes in an active face cocked with mischief watched them. Hulga imagines the terrible dainty woman tainting everything, furniture, and books with her blue hands. Hulga, her hair pulled back tight to fight against the despised lines of her forehead, watched her with loathing.
Hulga’s leg is a prosthesis given to her by Mrs. Hopewell after a madman struck Hulga with a shotgun in a hunting accident. Hulga believes that her mother thinks a lousy leg is better than a sound mind.
Mrs. Freeman’s daughters will never have to grow up to be doctors or lawyers or anything in their own life because they are all mentally disabled. The Bible Salesman asks Hulga to show him how she removes and puts on the artificial leg. She does, and he then releases it. Hulga demands he put it back on, but he does not. He begins to kiss her again, but she pushes him off.
The Bible Salesman then opens his hollowed-out Bible to reveal it is hollowed out. He offers her a flask of whiskey, pornographic playing cards, and condoms. She tells him she thought he was just an average country person. The Bible salesman is surprised that an atheist is so bothered by his drinking and owning condoms. He refuses to give her the leg back, implying that he wants to have sex with Hulga. She responds that this hypocrite is the perfect example of a fine Christian. The salesman ridicules her, thinking that he’s a perfect Christian.
Manley Pointer then grabs the artificial leg and places it into his valise, along with the rest of his things. As he descends from the barn loft, he tells Hulga that he has a whole collection of things he’s stolen similarly and says that his real name is not Manley Pointer. He proclaims, “you ain’t so smart. I have been believing in nothing ever since I was born.”
What is the Main Idea of the Story Good Country People?
The main ideas in “Good Country People” are social status, Christianity, and innocence versus experience.
Social Status: Manley Pointer is a country boy, and this helps him deceive the Hopewells. It also shows the unique social landscape of the rural South.
Christianity: Manley Pointer, the false Bible salesman, brings Hulga closer to God by abandoning her in the hayloft. This forces Hulga to accept grace as her deliverance from God and goes to teach in Sunday school.
Innocence versus experience: Hulga is not smart enough to identify Manley Pointer as a con man despite her education. This suggests that philosophical and deeper understanding does not equate to lived experience.
An Analysis of the Characters in the Story Good Country People
We will look at analysis of the three main characters in the short story, Good Country People-Flannery O Connor:
In Good Country People Flannery O, O’Connor describes Mrs. Hopewell’s name as a pun on her simple, optimistic worldview. She sees the world as a place where people are either “good country people” or “trash.” The “country people” are hard-working and honest, and the “trash” is dishonest and lives in filth.
Mrs. Hopewell has it easy. She believes herself to be much better than Mrs. Freeman and thinks she can tell the difference between the classes. Of course, this makes her feel great about herself. Meanwhile, Mrs. Hopewell talks to Mrs. Freeman regularly about other people’s business. She recognizes that Mrs. Freeman is nosy, but she sees no harm in using it for her good.
We can see that Mrs. Hopewell hears what she wants to hear from Mrs. Freeman. Mrs. Hopewell is at times sympathetic, but in the end, she is still allowing her daughter to be undisciplined and lazy.
Mrs. Hopewell’s daughter, Hulga, is intelligent and cynical, but that doesn’t stop her from annoyed by shallow conversations. She has a weak heart, wears an artificial leg, and has spent most of her time in her hometown. Her life has been restricted to the house where she grew up.
She is a loner, and she prefers reading to spending time with others. Her heart condition and artificial leg have made her more reflective. Facing her mortality and disability, she has built a life defined by philosophy.
Hulga has a Ph.D. in philosophy. She turned her name into Hulga when she turned twenty-one to symbolize her distaste for her mother’s worldview. Hulga sees religion as a waste of time.
She believes that she is a more worldly woman who sees the world for what it truly is. The hypocrites of her church are ignorant of their faults. She plans to seduce the Bible Salesman and take him as her lover, thinking that she can show him the way to a better life. Hulga feels connected to the Bible Salesman, but not because he asks to see her artificial leg. She feels that way when she lets him see it.
It turns out that this Bible salesman is not so holy after all. He steals Hulga’s leg and leaves her dead, but she survives. She realizes that she does not know much about life as she believes.
In “Good Country People,” Flannery O Connor describes Hulga as a not-good country person who has a religious experience when she gives up her artificial leg. She thinks it’s a miracle. But the Bible Salesman uses her to get money and, later, her leg.
The Bible Salesman
In Good Country People, Flannery O Connor describes Manley Pointer as a master con man. He doesn’t look like one, but he is. Pointer is a bible salesman. However, he’s not selling bibles to make money. He is selling them to gain power and influence over people. He uses their insecurities as a weapon against them. He figures out what they want and offers it to them, but at a price.
Mrs. Hopewell thinks good country people are simple and easy to fool; he plays right into her expectations. He pretends to have a heart condition, which gets Hulga’s attention and then allows Hulga to indulge her sense of superiority by letting her think that she is seducing him.
He tells a fabricated story about losing his father when he was ten years old. He senses that Hulga has a deep desire to be vulnerable and give herself over to another person, even if she won’t acknowledge it or allow herself to do so. Eventually, after tricking Hulga into coming to his loft, he admits that he has done this to many women before her. He even admits that he is more hard-hearted than Hulga’s atheism.
He calls himself a nihilist, saying that he has believed in nothing his entire life. He then tells her that Manley Pointer is not his real name and leaves.
We know very little about the Bible Salesman. It isn’t easy to separate fact from fiction in his stories. However, he is a liar who takes pride in his nihilism. He travels around the country, deceiving people and taking advantage of their trust.
What does Manley Pointer have in his Bible?
In Good Country People, Flannery O Connor describes how Manley Pointer carries whiskey, condoms, and playing cards with racy images in his Bible. When Hulga asks him to remove his Bible from the hayloft, he produces them. Manley Pointer is a con man. He also uses these items to seduce her and make her want him.
This is ironic because Manley Pointer is not a Christian at all. He doesn’t need the Bible because he doesn’t need God to get what he wants. The Bible is just a prop for him. The Bible is supposed to be sacred and holy, but Manley Pointer has entirely transformed it into something else. He uses the Bible as a tool to get what he wants. And why not? According to Pointer, “God’s not going to give you anything you can’t use.”
What is the Main Point of Good Country People?
O’Connor uses third-person limited omniscient narrative in her story. Through this narrative, she wants the readers to focus on the main characters. In Good Country People, Flannery O Connor presents the main idea of the importance of recognizing different types of people and how some hypocritic Christians misuse the Bible.
The main characters in the story are Mrs. Hopewell and Hulga. Hulga is looking for something to believe in. She thinks that she has found her purpose when meeting the Bible salesman, Manley Pointer. She thinks he is a good man, but she later finds out he’s just a con man.
We see the importance of recognizing different types of people in the story through Mrs. Hopewell and Hulga. Mrs. Hopewell is a hypocrite. She talks behind people’s backs, but she thinks she is better than the others. She doesn’t realize that she is just as bad as the others. She is also blind to her daughter Hulga’s faults.
Hulga doesn’t like Mrs. Hopewell’s attitude. She pretends to be a better person than her mother, and her mother believes it, but in reality, she is just as bad as her mother. Hulga is a loner who doesn’t like to be around people. She thinks that she is better than the others, and she doesn’t want to associate with them.
Who was Just A Country Boy in the Story Good Country People Flannery o Connor
In Good Country People, Flannery O Connor presents Pointer as a country boy. Pointer has two Bibles on his knees. He is trying to be friendly, but Mrs. Hopewell wants to getaway. He mentions that he is just a country boy and has a heart condition, which Mrs. Hopewell believes makes her feel bad.
Even though Mrs. Hopewell is sorry she invited Pointer to stay for dinner, she lets him eat with them anyway. Pointer looks at Hulga all through feed, and even though she eats quickly and clears the table, she still leaves the room.
About some other function, Hopewell wonders whether Pointer is the kind of a person who ought to be allowed to do anything he wants. He is a good man and has a heart condition. Pointer thinks that he should get something in return for his bad health.
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