The characters and their traits in the short story, “Good Country People,” play a major role in enhancing the plot of the story. The short story’s main character, Hulga Hopewell, is a physically impaired thirty-two-year-old woman who uses her physical complications as excuses to be discourteous, and as tools to execute manipulative behavior. As described by the narrator, Hulga is “bloated, rude, and squint-eyed,” and has a burning desire to be ugly. In fact, Hulga’s desire to be ugly led to her name change at the age of twenty-one from Joy to Hulga. Hulga changed her name “partly to torment a parent she considers annoyingly positive” (Evans). O’Connor certifies the previous statement by stating, “Mrs. Hopewell (Hulga’s mother) was certain that she (Hulga) had thought and thought until she had hit upon the ugliest name in my language.” Much like Mrs. Hopewell, readers cannot refrain from feeling sympathy towards Hulga because she has one leg, poor eyesight, and a short life expectancy. Unfortunately, Hulga is a manipulator and uses her personal problems to seduce people. “Hulga is miserable and seems determined to make everyone around her as miserable as she is” (Kirk). O’Conner foreshadows Hulga’s manipulative behavior when she states, “Hulga had learned to ...
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...passes whiskey and condoms. Manley is also exteriorly religious, but interiorly sinful. Both Hulga and Manley’s possessions are full of symbolism, while the more shallow characters, such as Mrs. Hopewell and Mrs. Freeman, lack symbolic possessions.
All in all, “Good Country People” is a product of Flannery O’Connor’s southern gothic writing style. O’Connor’s writing style produces a tale of two battling antagonists with similar motives. The short story is titled, “Good Country People,” but features only one decent character. The other country people in the story have major flaws that lead to the events that take place in the story. Two major components of the short story are O’Connor’s use of grotesque characters and the symbolic possessions of the two antagonists. Ironically, the short story, “Good Country People,” is mainly about a few bad country people.
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