Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Flannery O'Connor - "Good Country People"

The main character, Joy/Hulga, is alienated by those surrounding her, but she also chooses to alienate herself via her name, philosophical stance, personal interests, lack of religion, time spent in school, and her artificial leg.  It is as though she prides herself in distinguishing herself from the "good country people" around her, as demonstrated by her choice in an alternative name:
"She had arrived at it first purely on the basis of its ugly sound and then the full genius of its fitness had struck her." (O'Connor 30)
The theme of alienation is continued with the display of separation within the mother/daughter relationship.  Mrs. Hopewell, despite her good intentions, cannot understand her daughter and refuses to accept her differences without pity:
"One day Mrs. Hopewell had picked up one of the books the girl had just put down...These words had been underlined with a blue pencil and they worked on Mrs. Hopewell like some evil incantation in gibberish.  She shut the book quickly and went out of the room as if she were having a chill." (30)
O'Connor uses Joy's/Hulga's alienation as a means of exploitation.  The bible salesman identifies this and uses it to his advantage:
""I've gotten a lot of interesting things," he said.  "One time I got a woman's glass eye this way." (36)

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