‘Good Country People’ Analysis

Posted: August 12th, 2013





‘Good Country People’ Analysis


Several people cling to disparaging opinions without considering their full repercussions on their lives. This is fully evidenced by the story good country people written by Flannery O’Connor. The book revolves around the effects of the perception people have on various issues. Joy Hopewell in this story is the perfect example of the effects that may arise if people hold destructive opinions and stick to them. The obstinate character depicted by Joy Hopewell in this story serves to explain the consequences that arise from certain beliefs on the lives of the people in question. In the course of the work, several economic matters influence the behavior of the characters in the story; for instance, the Joy’s health fuels her desire to increase her income and rise from poverty.


This work if remarkably filled with several literal symbols that have made the story more interesting. The first form of symbolism that the author has used is in the naming of the characters of the book. The choice of names she has given to her characters serves to explain the personality of the character without the explanations in words. Her choice in names is befitting and at times ironic and humorous as well. This style of writing in literature is important because it enables the reader to reflect on more than the story. It enables them to know what the author had in mind while giving certain names to certain characters. Symbolism requires a lot of prowess in order to bring about the required response in the characters names.

From the text, the main character’s name is Joy. Ordinarily the name signifies happiness and delight. However, the character in question was sulky and unhappy. Because of her personality, she changes her name to Hulga simply because it is the ugliest name she can muster. Her unhappiness may be because of the accident she endured that resulted in the loss of her leg. Due to this accident, she changes her opinion about life and she became a realist. She has acquired a lot of education but this does not provide her with the happiness she yearns for yet she does not know. Another character in the story is Mrs. Freeman. As her name suggest, she should be free but she depicts a burdened soul. Her burdens arise from the land that she tills because it takes a lot of her energy and time. Evans (56) that from these two characters, the author has demonstrated the use of symbolism in the allocation of names to her characters.

The second literal device evident in the book is the use of irony. The short story has a steady demonstration of irony in the various events that take place in the story. Much of the irony is based on the title of the story ‘Good Country People’. The first demonstration of irony is when Mrs. Hopewell refers to Mrs. Freeman as a good country person. This is in complete contradiction to the personality of Mrs. Freeman because her former employer considered her a very nosey woman. As the story continues, the author shows the reader her fondness of morbid details that include the assaulting of children. She specifically likes listening to the story of how Hulga lost her leg during her accident. It is ironic that a good country person would enjoy such gruesome occurrences especially if they occurred to children.

The main character in the story, Hulga Hopewell also embodies irony. This is because her values and actions are different. She seeks to make everyone believe she does not care about anything yet some actions contradict her belief for example how she treats her artificial foot. Hulga considers the good country people to be ignorant initially. This is mostly because of their belief in God. Hulga takes a lot of pride in her intellect and her vast knowledge. Apart form being an atheist, Hulga is also an existentialist, which is she is educated in the studies of existentialism. However, her ideas pertaining to her knowledge become baseless because of her apparent independence and naivety. Hulga considers herself self sustained but her perception changes when she meets the Bible salesperson, Manley. He steals her wooden foot at the end of the story and Hulga discovers that she has to depend on others since she cannot walk.  According to Sparrow (10), her naivety contributes a great deal to her gullibility leading to manipulation by the Manley.

The third form of literal device that the author has employed is the use of humor in the story. The humor used is intelligent and sophisticated. For example in her story, she refers to people of the south as “Christ haunted” yet she is a staunch catholic. This shows her use of humor even if it contradicted her personal ideologies. The depiction of Hulga as an atheist who believes in nothing is described as pretentious since it is just an act. This is proven when Manley manipulates her into giving him her artificial foot. Rollins (48) depicts humor in this case as occurring when he runs away with Hulga’s wooden foot and yelling that he has believed in nothing since he was born. He has used Hulga’s words against her in a humorous way at the end of the story  .

The short story, Good Country People, is an outstanding piece of literature. The author has used several literary devices in the narration of the story. Most notably, she has used irony, symbolism and humor in some occurrences. The use of such devices has made the story more appealing and has brought to light what the author intended to portray without the use of words. The story focuses on the effect of destructive opinions in the life of an individual for example in the case of the main character Hulga who learns her lesson at the end of the story. Flannery is a notable writer as evidenced by her expertise in this short story

Works Cited

Evans, H. David. “Flannery O’Connor’s Apotemnophiliac Allegories.” American Literature 81.2 (2009), 305-331. Print.

Rollins, Brenda V. Literary Devices. San Diego: Classroom Complete Press, 2010. Print.

Sparrow, Stephen. Stamping Out Joy: The Fallacy of Certainty in “Good Country People.” 2 Nov. 2002. Web. 12 Oct. 2012. <http://mediaspecialist.org/ssstamping.html>


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