“Good country people,” is the first body of work by O’Connor that I have ever read and I was instantly drawn to because it starts out with this vapid conversation between two characters: “people are different, and it takes all kinds of people to make the world go around” (Good Country 1). That sounds almost profound, but upon reading it’s clear that the characters (Mrs. Freeman and Mrs. Hopewell) are saying these things to each appear and assure each other that they are righteous, Christian “Good Country People”. The reader is introduced to Hulga, whose moniker ironically is Joy since she is anything but; she’s described as “the large hulking Joy, whose constant outrage had obliterated every expression on her face” (Good Country 1). Thus the story starts.
Joy has a PhD but because of a heart condition and wooden leg, she’s stuck home with her Mother. This would usually garner empathy or at least sympathy for Joy, but as the story progresses, it becomes apparent that she feels superior to everyone else: “she looked…as if she could smell their stupidity” (Good Country 3). Her superiority-complex makes it difficult to relate to her, even more so when she meets the Bible salesman and plans to seduce him out of his faith: “…easily seduced him…she imagined that she took h...
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... people that they affect. So the men refuse these gestures and their hypocrisy because the damage is already done and really they hold little worth to them.
There are myriad of research and theories dedicated to the debate of good versus evil, but it’s like the egg and chicken debate, there will never be a clear answer. As humans, we’re flawed and sometimes good people do bad things and other times we’re just products of our environment like the Misfit from “A Good Man is Hard to Find”. One thing that is clear though, is that our perceptions of people aren’t necessarily true to who they actually are, like the grandmother persistently telling the Misfit that he looks like fine good people, as if social upstanding individual cannot be a criminal or in “Good Country People”, where the con-artist is often referred as simple, it’s an instance of pure irony.
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