Sharp, penetrating humor, bizarre and often grotesque characters, situations and events illustrate O'Connor Stories (Magill, p.89)
These are the characteristics that make Flannery O’Connar a main story writer of the 20th century. Under O'Connor’s superficial story often lies under the surface unexpected events are always deep and complex world of moral and religious mysteries, which is convincingly brought to life through skillful manipulation of the author's symbolic narrative (Magill, p.89). Good Country people, is a story which is a features typical characteristics of O’Connor’s writing. In this story, O'Connor presents her most known technique of "irony" at her best, which allows readers care to feel "the ironic comedy" (McMichael,p. 120) anytime and anywhere. The paper will focus not only on the irony and symbols used in her story Good Country People but will also highlight the religious aspects and its important themes.
Good Country People tells the story of the farm holder, Mrs. Hopewell, his only daughter, Joy-Hulga and Bible salesman, Manley Pointer, as he calls himself. Joy lost a foot when she was ten years old, which makes her exhibit an eccentric approach to everything. Holding an arrogant pride, she obtained a doctorate in philosophy, which furthers her contempt against the common humanity represented by the people around her, especially men. One day, the Bible salesman, Manley Pointer, came to the farm, which will test for each character here, which paradoxically reveals their blindness to evil (Asals, p.102). Because of her disdain towards society Hulga never thought any one worth her attention but the entertaining personality of the salesman and the fact that he praises her a lot makes him seem different and special to her. But ironically he turned out to be a wolf in sheep’s skin and leaves her in the upper story of the barn without her wooden leg. Apart from that the sales man Manley Pointer is described to be verbally “sincere”, “genuine”, “simple”, “earnest”, and “the salt of the earth” (Asals, p. 100) but ironically he turns out to be the opposite of what he says.
The protagonist Hulga’s pride in her philosophical degree and intellectual thoughts makes her disdain faith and blessings and she denies spiritual reality. But even though she views religious faith as unimportant, she finds herself attracted to the Bible salesman. In doing so, she stubbornly rejects the God ward pull of grace. Her refusal to accept grace when it is offered removes her from the true center of reality in O’Connor’s world. Referring to the intellectual pride shown by Joy Hulga O’Connor explains that the church tells her the necessity of fighting such nonsense (O’Connor, p. 97) as belief in grace and blessing is important part of life.
The wooden leg in the story symbolizes her intellectual pride and her contempt towards faith as it is only when Manley takes it away that she realizes how wrong she was to have faith on her intellect alone as what she thought turned out to be wrong.
Hence Flannery O’Connar makes use of irony and symbolism to explicate the theme of dangers in relying too much on one’s intellect as reality is not always how it looks like.
Asals, Frederick. (1986) The Double. Modern Critical Views, or Flannery O’Connor. Ed. Harold
Bloom. New York & Philadelphia: Chelsea House.
Magill, Frank N.( 1981). Critical Survey of Short Fiction. Englewood Cliffs: Salem Press. O’Connor, Flannery. (1980) The Habit of Being: Letters of Flannery O’Connor: Ed. Sally
Fitzgerald. NewYork: Vintage Books,
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