Flannery O’Connor’s "Good Country People"
Uploaded by london28 on Dec 10, 2004
Pride of Intellect Versus Corruptness of the Heart in Flannery O’Connor’s “Good Country People”
Much of Flannery O’Connor’s writing shows how she thinks the heart is dark and complex: a battlefield of mixed emotions such as greed and religious feelings. Her writing connects with violence and shows how cruel and unusual a corrupt heart can be. “Good Country People” has the shattering encounter of pride of intellect (usually irreligion) and the corrupt human heart (usually criminal, insane, or sometimes sexually demonic), which shows her repeated paradigms of the pride of intelligence versus the corruptness of the human heart, and how this is her main theme of the story.
Two of the main characters, Mrs. Hopewell and Mrs. Freeman, display how even the simplest people can be corrupt. Mrs. Freeman, who is called “good country people” by Mrs. Hopewell is corrupted by her “fondness for the details of secret infections, hidden deformities, assaults upon children… and diseases,” of which she “preferred the lingering or incurable.” Mrs. Freeman could hear of the story of how Hulga’s leg was “literally blasted off,” and act as if it “had happened an hour ago” (120). Mrs. Hopewell, just like her name, hoped for all to go well. She would not consider her daughter grown up, for she was saddened that the accident had happened; “she thought of her still as a child because it tore her heart to think instead of the poor stout girl in her thirties who had never danced a step or had any normal good times” (119-120). She also had a pride of intellect, in that she knew just how to handle the woman (Mrs. Freeman). “She was able to use other people’s [bad qualities] in such a constructive way” that she was able to make use of even the woman who “want[ed] to know all your business” (118-119). The usage of bad qualities, although intelligent, is also a corrupted action.
Flannery O’Connor presents such an irony of a theme that it can evolve in just one person by itself. Manley Pointer, or so-called the “bible salesman,” presents in himself that intelligence and corruptness presides together to make such a twist in plot that you would not have suspected. Being a bible salesman, one would think Mr. Pointer would be true to the heart, a solid Christian who knows the...