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Home » , » Summary and Analysis "Good Country People''

"Good Country People" was first published in 1955 in the short story collection A Good Man is Hard to Find by Flannery O'Connor. It is widely regarded as an outstanding piece of Southern Gothic literature. Like many of O'Connor's works, "Good Country People" criticizes the American South and religious hypocrisy because of O'Connor's Catholic worldview. This study guide is based on Flannery O'Connor's Collected Works, which was published in 1988 by the Library of America.

The Hopewell household's daily routine is described at the beginning of the story: While Hulga Hopewell, Mrs. Hopewell's daughter ignores them, hired helper Mrs. Freeman visits Mrs. Hopewell, a divorcee, every morning. Joy Hopewell was Hulga's birth name, but she legally changed it  She is referred to as Joy by her mother throughout the narrative). Even thoughHulga has a PPh. D. and is 32 years old, she is still treated like a child in her home. Her weight and the fact that she has an artificial leg make her look unattractive. Mrs. Freeman and Mrs. Hopewell engage in gossip, and Mrs. Freeman shares information about her daughters, Glynese and Carramae, who, even though one of them is 15 and pregnant, are more attractive than Hulga. Mrs. Hopewell hired Mr. and Mrs. Freeman because she thinks they are "good country people" (Page 264), even though both Hulga and she finds Mrs. Freeman annoying.

Mrs. Hopewell feels sorry for her daughter because she has never had a normal life since the hunting accident in which she lost her leg. She also believes that Hulga's decision to legally change her name from Joy to Hulga was an intentional effort to be less attractive. While Mrs. Freeman has begun using that name to subtly target Hulga, Mrs. Hopewell refuses to use it. Hulga takes great pride in choosing the name she thinks best describes her, but she still finds Mrs. Freeman's attacks troubling, in part due to her seductive fascination with Hulga's leg.

Hulga and Mrs. Hopewell disagree in their lives: Hulga would not be at home if it weren't for her broken heart, and Mrs. Hopewell believes that her daughter shouldn't have obtained a PPh.D Mrs. Hopewell finds HHelga'sstudy of philosophy to be perplexing, pointless, and somewhat frightening, and Hulga looks down on her mother with contempt.

Mrs. Hopewell invites a Bible salesman into the house one day. Hopewell doesn't tell him that Hulga's atheism is the reason why she doesn't have a Bible in the parlor when he notices it. Hopewell becomes impatient with him as he continues, but she softens when he tells her that he is just a simple man from the country. From the kitchen, Hulga watches as they talk about how "good country people are the salt of the earth." He introduces himself as Manley Pointer and reveals that, due to Hulga's identical heart condition, he will not attend college. Mrs. Hopewell extends an apology to him and invites him to dinner.

Mrs. Hopewell makes up for Hulga's rude behavior toward Manley at dinner by asking him questions about himself. He tells them that his father is paralyzed and that he comes from a poor family. He is one of nine children. Additionally, he declares his desire to serve as a missionary. He keeps talking after dinner, and Mrs. Hopewell gets tired of him and makes up a reason for him to leave. Hulga and he talk as he leaves, and Mrs. Hopewell watches from the porch. When she sees him walking toward the gate with Hulga, she is taken aback.

The following morning, while Mrs. Hopewell is distracted by her thoughts on what Hulga and Manley might have discussed, Mrs. Freemen continues to talk about her daughters. Hulga enters and, under her mother's watchful eye, prepares breakfast. The Bible salesman is mentioned by Mrs. Hopewell, and Mrs. Freeman implies that she witnessed him and Hulga conversing.

Hulga sprints to her room and recalls their conversation. He was eager but nervous about speaking with her. She admitted that she is actually 17 years old, and he cited her bravery as a reason for her wooden leg. He showed his appreciation for her by praising her name and pointing out how much they have in common; After that, he offered to take her to a picnic. She spent the night imagining that she would seduce him in a barn that was empty and that, despite his remorse, she would "change his remorse into a deeper understanding of life" (Page 276).

He is waiting for her behind a bush, sporting a new hat and carrying a valise that held his Bibles, when she goes to meet him for their picnic. He replies, "You can never tell when you'll need the word of God," when she inquires about it (page 277). She becomes enraged when he inquires about her wooden leg as they walk together. She tells him she is an atheist when he apologizes and says that God loves her. Then, he kisses her; Although it is her first kiss, she looks at him with pity and amusement. She continues, leaving him to catch up to her as she heads to the barn when he stops. Manley laments that she is unable to ascend to the loft due to her leg as they enter the room. She does this against his wishes. He goes with her, bringing his bag along.

He removes her glasses and declares his love as they begin to kiss. He stops and tells her she must when she doesn't respond to his words. He insists when she says she doesn't use that word, which makes her feel sorry for him. She tells him she is 30 years old and has a master's degree, but all he wants to hear is that she loves him. He tells her to let him see where her wooden leg is attached to prove it after she gives in. She is shocked because she is very protective of her injury, but he reassures her that this is what makes her unique. She believes she is "face to face with real innocence" at that point (Page 281).

After letting him roll her pant leg up, she demonstrates how to take it off. He kisses her once more after he takes it from her, which she finds upsetting. She pushes him away and demands that the leg be reattached. He responded by removing a hollow Bible from his suitcase. Whiskey, indecent playing cards, and a condom box are all contained within. She is taken aback by his offer of whiskey. He pushes her away again when she asks for her leg back, then makes fun of her for trusting him even though she says she doesn't believe in anything.

Manley takes her leg and places it with his other belongings in the suitcase. After that, he goes down the ladder and stops to tell Hulga that he often steals things from women, like a glass eye. After that, he makes fun of her belief that she is superior to him by declaring, "I've been believing in nothing ever since I was born!" Page 283). He abandons Hulga there stranded, and Mrs. Freeman and Mrs. Hopewell observe his simplicity as he passes by.


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