Good Country People

Irony within “Good Country People”

Beyond the lines of Flannery O’Connor’s “Good Country People” rest an untold story visible only to those willing to take the challenge of symbolic exploration. This exploration is centered on Hulga, an intellectual and a cripple, who is bound to conquer the inconsistencies of her world with a nihilistic set of philosophical guidelines. The story’s progression is catalyzed as Manley, a bible salesman, manipulates Hulga into consenting to a private sales session in which he unravels the fabric of Hulga’s conviction. A thread of irony weaves throughout the work and ultimately functions as a key theme in the story’s development. Hulga’s health, her education, and Manley are components that allow us to explore the functionality of Hulga’s atheistic philosophies.

Never enjoying a dance, first kiss, or even a date, Hulga has transformed her deformity into a life-long crutch filled with missed opportunities and denied experiences. Mrs. Hopewell actually has a this excerpt on Hulga, “she thought of her still as a child because it tore her heart to think instead of the poor stout girl in her thirties who had never danced a step or had any normal good times” (191). One opportunity that has not been taken for granted is that of endearment. Ironically, Hulga’s transforming source of pain has become a bold imprint of her personality-marked as a major source of pride. This inanimate object has assumed the role of companion and evolved into a best friend in which Hulga is very protective. Somewhere along her life’s journey, a certain attitude of “us against the world” developed and propelled Hulga into an isolated existence. Also, Hulga’s strength lies within her leg; without it, she is incapable of standing independent (both physically and metaphorically). The artificial leg is at the epicenter of her life and holds the pieces of her existence together, but it also the piece that converted her “Joy” to the menacing Hulga.

Boasting a...