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Good Country People
Transcript of Good Country People
A rural farm in Georgia during the 1950s. Specifically Mrs.Hopewell's home, and the loft barn.
Exposition: Hulga is a disabled 33 year old who lives with her mother Mrs.Hopeman and Mrs. Freeman. She is reclusive and is annoyed with both of them.
Rising Action: Hulga meets a bible salesman who comes to her door named Pointer and she plans a date with him.
Climax: During the picnic date, Manley starts to kiss her and convinces her to show him how take her prosthetic leg off. Once he learns, he takes it off while they are kissing and refuses to return it.
Falling Action: Manley packs the leg into his suitcase next to his bible. Hulga discovers he is an undercover thief posting as a bible salesman, and has a history of stealing disabled people's prosthesis.
Conclusion: Manley leaves the one-legged Hulga in the barn. Mrs.Hopewell and Mrs. Freeman see him leaving and assume he was selling bibles.
Mary Flannery O'Connor
Born in Savannah, Georgia in 1925
-Child of Regine Cline and Edwin Francis O’Connor
-Joined the Georgia State College for Women where she worked as an editor for the college magazine
-She was known as a cartoonist.
-Studied at the University of Iowa in 1942
-Published her first short story ‘The Geranium’ in 1946.
-Accepted to Yaddo, a prestigious residential artists' colony in Saratoga Springs, New York.
-O'Connor's novel Wise Blood is published to critical acclaim. The New York Times literary critic calls O'Connor "a writer of power." 1952
-O'Connor's first short story collection, A Good Man Is Hard to Find, is published. It also receives rave reviews. She is awarded the first of three O. Henry Prizes for her story "Greenleaf."
-Battled lupus for over 10 years and eventually died in 1964.
Author's Other Works
The Artificial Nigger
-Talks about a trip between a grandfather and his grandson; learning about an “Artificial Nigger,” they “experience a redemptive epiphany as they simultaneously recognize in the figurine a symbol of human suffering and the imputed mercy that comes from such suffering” as they are staring artificial nigger.
-Based during the 1940s/50s when race was an issue, in barbershops there was always racial discussions and debates.
A Good Man Is Hard to Find
-Flannery O’Connor’s best-known story
-A “cynical tale, uncompromising… brings out human pettiness and manipulation.”
Hulga (Joy): Round, dynamic character. She is 33 years old, disabled with a prosthetic leg and a weak heart. She is also very pessimistic, rude and tends to look down on people because of her high education level.
Mrs.Hopewell: Round character. She is Hulga's mother and is a very caring person. She has a affinity for "Good Country People".
Mrs.Freeman: Known to be the town gossiper. Works on Mrs.Hopewell's farm, and has been a loyal tenant for many years. She is also known to brag and be over talkative.
Manley Pointer: A bible salesman who is very cunning in nature. He is a thief who steals disabled people's prosthesis for amusement and acts innocent/ decent to lure women in. He is a round character but does not go through changes in his true self, so is not dynamic but static.
Point of View
Third person limited omniscient.
The story is told in third person, but with the focus on Mrs.Hopewell and Hulga's view.
The main character is Hulga, formally Joy, who had a hunting accident when she was 10, forcing her to wear a prosthetic leg. She is highly educated but still lives with Mrs. Hopewell, her mother and Mrs. Freeman, her mother's farm employee, because of her heart condition. Manley Pointer is a door to door bible salesman, who attempted selling bibles to Mrs. Hopewell. She eventually invites him for dinner, upon categorizing him as a "good country person" where he set a picnic date to meet up with Hulga. The following day they meet up and he takes her to a nearby barn where they begin kissing. He takes advantage of her vulnerability and convinces her to remove her prosthetic leg. He refuses to return it to her and packs it with him into his suitcase, where he kept in his "Bible", a secret box with whiskey, cards, and condoms hidden inside it. Manley leaves the barn house and as he left, Mrs. Hopewell and Mrs. Freeman watch him leave, thinking he return from the black side of town.
Good Country People
Identity is a big theme in the story. Mrs. Hopewell categorizes people as either "good country people" or "trash". Everyone she meets is either in one category or the other, and she isn't always correct in her assumptions. Like Manley, for example.
The irony in the story is most apparent in the title. "Good Country People" is what Mrs.Hopewell labels those she considers decent. She categorizes Manley as a good country person, when in fact he is a thief and anything but a good country person.
One interpretation of Hulga's prosthetic leg is that it represents the void in her life. Something is missing, so she supplements with something else to fill the void. Hulga can't leave the house although she really wants to work as a professor in the city but instead she spends her days at home with her mother, much like how she can't have a real leg but accepts the fact that she has a fake one. It can also be interpreted as her missing a part of her soul, or personality.
Religion is the second biggest theme in the story, from the selling of bibles, to talking about atheism and discussing Christianity.
"The doctors had told Mrs. Hopewell that with the best of care, Joy might see forty-five."
"The reason for her keeping them for so long was that they were not trash. They were good country people."
This represents Mrs.Hopeman's view of people and the reoccurring theme of identity. She either view people as good country people or trash and this view influenced Hulga, her daughter, and how she view people as well. This caused her to be overly trusting when she met Manley because she assumed since her mother thought he was a good country person, he was reliable and decent.
Hulga is often rude to her mother Mrs.Hopewell but her mother shrugs it off and continues to care and love her unconditionally. This is credited to the many mishaps Hulga has had in her life such as her hunting accident which forced her to wear a prosthetic leg and her heart condition. Both these suggest she might not live very long, so her mother appeases her.