Relationships in Good Country People, by Flannery O'Connor

2362 Words10 Pages
Flannery O'Connor's "Good Country People" is a story told through the examination of the relationships between the four main characters. All of the characters have distinct feelings about the others, from misunderstanding to contempt. Both Joy-Hulga, the protagonist, and Manley Pointer, the antagonist, are multi-faceted characters. While all of the characters have different levels of complexity, Joy-Hulga and Manley Pointer are the deepest and the ones with the most obvious facades.

The first character we encounter is Mrs. Freeman. She is the wife of Mrs. Hopewell's tenant farmer. She is a very outspoken woman, and "she [can] never be brought to admit herself wrong on any point" (O'Connor 180). Mrs. Freeman is a gossip; she is nosy and she "ha[s] a special fondness for the details of secret infections, hidden deformities, assaults upon children" (O'Connor 183).

Mrs. Freeman wants to be an authority on everyone else's personal business. She is never shy of sharing the details of her daughters' lives with Mrs. Hopewell. I get the impression that she tells anyone that she meets the intimate details of the lives of Glynese, Carramae, Mrs. Hopewell, and Joy-Hulga. Being a poor tenant farmer's wife, her only weapon is her speech (Enjoiras 36). In order to compete with Mrs. Hopewell, she must be constantly on the look-out for ways to subtly one-up her in the course of their conversations. Asals describes their conversations as "hackneyed one-upmanship" (99). For example, the way they speak to each other one rnorning goes like this:

"Everybody is different," Mrs. Hopewell said.

"Yes, most people is," Mrs. Freeman said.

"It takes all kinds to make the world."

"I always said it did myself....

... middle of paper ...

...f the story proves it. The facades they put on are as essential to "Good Country People" as the mindless conversations between Mrs. Freeman and Mrs. Hopewell. The relationships between these four characters are what make "Good Country People" such a literary success.

Works Cited

Asals, Frederick. Flannery O'Connor : The Imagination of Extremity. University of Georgia Press; Reissue edition. Athens, Georgia, 2007.

Enjolras, Laurence. Flannery O'Connor's Characters. New York: University Press of America, Inc., 1998.

Feeley, Kathleen, S.S.N.D. Flannery O'Connor: Voice of the Peacock. New York: Fordham University Press; 2 edition, 2010.

O'Connor, Flannery. The Complete Stories. Thirty-seventh printing. New York: Noonday Press, 1994.

Whitt, Margaret Earley. Understanding Flannery O'Connor. University of South Carolina Press, 1997.
Open Document