The Short Summary Of “The Good Country People”
Every morning during breakfast, Mrs. Freeman and Mrs. Hopewell discuss the “important things” gossiping. Finally, at seven in the morning, Mrs. Hopewell rises, lights the heaters (hers and her daughter Joy’s), and begins chit-chatting with Mrs. Freeman in the kitchen. The well-educated, thirty-two-year-old daughter Hulga wonders to be free from all this and doesn’t want to go into the kitchen.
One of Mrs. Freeman’s teenage daughters is married and expecting a baby, while the other is not. So the chat in the morning usually involves her daughters. Mrs. Freeman’s family has lived quite well since Mrs. Hopewell hired them four years ago because they are “good country people” rather than “rubbish.” Before the Freemen, no family could labor for Mrs. Hopewell for more than a year.
Mrs. Hopewell tolerates Joy’s frequent bad moods since Joy has a wooden leg. She was shot in the leg when she was 10 years old during a hunting accident. When Joy turned 21, she legally changed her name to Hulga Hopewell. Nevertheless, Mrs. Hopewell refuses to name her so and that irritates Hulga. Despite having a Ph.D. in philosophy, Hulga stays at home and doesn’t work since her mother has to look after her because she has heart problems. She might live for another 10 or a few more years.
Mrs. Hopewell and Mrs. Freeman wondered why Hulga spoke with the Bible salesman who arrived yesterday on a Saturday morning. Everyone is informed of Hulga’s atheism. The Bible salesman, Manley Pointer, failed to sell Mrs. Hopewell a Bible book, but he had dinner, a discussion, and a date with Hulga beyond his visit at 10 AM.
Manley and Hulga meet up and begin walking through the forest. They kiss and discuss Hulga’s leg, God, damnation, and nothingness. Hulga believes he is not as intelligent as she is. Hulga directs Manley to the barn attic when he advises finding a spot to sit down. Manley gives her another kiss before taking the glasses. She is unaware of it. He declares his love for her and asks her to feel the same. He also wants to observe the connection between her biological leg and her prosthetic one. She first complies with both of his wishes, agreeing with both.
Manley grabs Hulga’s wooden leg, and he won’t return it. Hulga is scared. Manley takes out his Bible. The Bible salesman shows booze, playing cards, and condoms hidden there. Hulga, though, seems unimpressed. Hulga demands her leg back, and all romantic fervor leaves her. Manley collects his belongings as well as Hulga’s leg. He said that he is playing Hulga and believes he thoroughly fooled her. Hulga disapproves and observes Manley leave through a window in the attic. Her face is excited.
Mrs. Freeman and Mrs. Hopewell also observe him go. According to Mrs. Hopewell, he allegedly sold Bibles to black residents of the area he came from.
Main Characters Of The Story
Joy or Hulga
The main character of this short story is Hulga, formerly Joy. At the age of twenty-one, she changed her name. Hulga has many sides to her, but Joy is not one of them. She does, however, have a lot of reasons to be unhappy.
Manley Pointer sells Bible books. Hulga could need some time to realize what a cunning con man Manley Pointer is.
A Hulga’s mother is Mrs. Hopewell, who is most known for her platitudes. However, as her name indicates, Mrs. Hopewell is exceptionally talented in all hopeful things.
Another main character Mrs. Freeman has worked on the farm for Mrs. Hopewell for the past four years. Mrs. Hopewell and Mrs. Freeman both use platitudes in their speech. However, her platitudes seem much less harsh and evasive.
Contradictions Between The Freeman And The Hopewells
Tenant farmers for Mrs. Hopewell, who lives with her daughter Joy, Freeman’s labor on her land. Mrs. Freeman will never understand and accept a mistake. So she had breakfast with Mrs. Hopewell every morning. The two of them converse about the weather and Mrs. Freeman’s daughters.
Joy Hopewell, 32 years old, is a blonde woman with a Ph.D. in philosophy and a prosthetic limb. Her mother treats her like a little child.
Mrs. Hopewell praises the daughters of her tenants since they are good country people. Mrs. Freeman has a lot of things to do every day. It is opposed by Mrs. Hopewell, who makes her responsible for everything even more.
Much to her daughter’s chagrin, Mrs. Hopewell enjoys using the same basic terms. Mrs. Freeman joins her in the trite conversation. Its modifications are occasionally repeated at supper and during breakfast and lunch.
Mrs. Hopewell wants Joy to be kinder, but she won’t alter her behavior for it — not even temporarily. Her mother explains her daughter’s sullenness by the lack of a leg — which she lost at 10 y.o. in a hunting accident. Joy officially changed her name to Hulga when she departed for college at age 21. However, Mrs. Hopewell wonders that her daughter would change her mind and still refers to her as Joy.
Hulga or Joy
Mrs. Freeman receives abuse from Hulga, but she doesn’t respond. When her mother is absent, she even calls Hulga by her name. It irritates Hulga. She finds other abnormalities and disasters fascinating, as well as her prosthetic limb.
Joy should smile more and look nicer, according to Mrs. Hopewell’s thoughts. College did not, in her opinion, aid her at all. Her useless philosophy degree is the worst. She is unable to portray daughter as a philosopher to others.
Joy’s cardiac issue also makes it unlikely that she will live past 45. Hulga feels so alone and reads all day. She occasionally goes for walks but doesn’t enjoy the outdoors. Hulga Hopewell thinks that the younger generation is foolish.
Bible Salesman or Pointer Manley
Joy cooks breakfast while Mrs. Freeman speaks about one of her daughters. Mrs. Hopewell is curious about what Joy said to the guy during yesterday’s dinner.
Yesterday, a young Bible salesman visited the Hopewell residence. He appealed to Mrs. Hopewell Christian’s character to make a business proposition. She rejected his offer. Despite not being interested, Mrs. Hopewell invited him because of politeness.
Bible salesman Manley says that he wants to dedicate his life to serving Christ. He has a cardiac problem, which has changed how he lives. His similarity to Joy touches her. Mrs. Hopewell invites Bible salesmen to dinner and he accepts her impulsive invitation.
Main Themes Of The Good Country People Story
Identity, supremacy, and class
Mrs. Hopewell observes that there is a distinct hierarchy among the inhabitants of her world. First, a group of individuals she refers to as “trash” at the bottom are impoverished, illiterate, and fundamentally criminal. She refers to the next category as “good country people.” These folks are less educated and poorer than landowners like Mrs. Hopewell and her daughter Hulga.
Since “every species is needed to make the world,” Mrs. Hopewell refers to these people as the “salt of the earth,” people essential to the functioning of the world, but her attitude toward “good villagers” is essentially condescending. She considers such people, including her maid Freeman Mrs and the Bible salesman, to be “good” only while they consider themselves inferior to her and her daughter.
The ability and willingness of Mrs. Hopewell to discern between “good” and “trash” persons under her in the social hierarchy also give the impression that she feels even more powerful and “educated.”
Appearance And Reality
In The Good Country People, characters frequently see others in ways that are at odds with how they are. The Good Country People personalities frequently portray themselves in the exact opposite way from how they are in reality. The title of the story “Good Village People” is intended for an ironic reading.
Hopewell Mrs refers to both characters as “good country people.” However, this term is unsuitable for both. The Bible salesman who identifies himself as a pious person turns out to be an irreverent womanizer who takes Hulga’s prosthetic limb.
In contrast, Mrs. Freeman comes out as depressing, arrogant, and self-absorbed throughout the novel, not innocent and kindhearted as Mrs. Hopewell indicates. The novel makes it very evident that Mrs. Hopewell is not more educated, refined, or cultural than the other characters, even though Mrs. Hopewell’s entire conception of “good country person” hinges on her belief that she is superior to these people.
The term “Good country people” and how it defines reality loses all significance and becomes false.
Genuine Faith And Weakness
We are not given a chance to see the true, genuine faith of “good country people.” Characters tend to exaggerate their allegiance a lot.
Mrs. Hopewell lies that she keeps a Bible by her bed to appear devout. However, a devout-sounding Bible seller is concealing beer, condoms, and pornography inside a Bible. Also, Hulga states that she is free of religious sentiments.
Illness And Impairment
At 15 y.o., Flannery O’Connor lost her father to systemic lupus erythematosus. The same illness was later discovered in O’Connor, who suffered from it for years before dying at 39 y.o.
A person’s mortality can change one. Hulga is more reflective since she is aware of her impending mortality, unlike Mrs. Hopewell, who lives in a world of platitudes and conventional morals.
In The Good Country People, every character professes to have high moral standards, yet none of them live up to those standards. Instead, they are all hypocrites in different ways, seeming to have dignity and higher moral standards than they have.
Literary Analysis Of Good Country People
“The Good Country People” begins with Mrs. Freeman. She has a face that is built like a big truck. This original beginning establishes the tone for Mrs. Freeman’s mechanical nature and demonstrates that she is a real person who never gives up on anyone.
After then, the action moves to Mrs. Hopewell’s kitchen. Mrs. Freeman joins her in the kitchen when she wakes early in the morning. There, they talk about the weather and their girls, two significant aspects of their life.
Hulga is shown as an angry young woman. She is obstinate and argumentative. Hulga, Mrs. Freeman, and Mrs. Hopewell occasionally have frank talks about various subjects. Hulga, however, finds the sentimental remarks made by the other women annoying. She was shot during a hunting accident, and as a result, she was left with a heart ailment and a wooden leg.
Manley Pointer, a Bible salesman, makes things worse. Mrs. Hopewell and Mrs. Freeman questions Hulga about her conversation with Bible salesman the day before on Saturday morning. She doesn’t want to share her most recent date with them, though.
Hulga is taken to the barn by Manley, who kisses her. Then he tells Hulga that he loves her and asks for reciprocity. Additionally, he requests that she demonstrate the connection between her body and her wooden leg. She unwillingly complies with his requests since she doesn’t want to forfeit the benefits he can provide. Manley then removes her leg and opens his Bible, filled with condoms, booze, and playing cards. Hulga demands the leg back as the situation worsens, but he refuses to do this.
Manley stuffs his items and Hulga’s wooden leg into a bag. He always treats others in the same way. He steals their most valuable belongings and flees. Hulga is tricked, he tells her before he flees, and Manley believes in nothing, even more so than she does.
The tale’s character, Mrs. Freeman, ends it the same as it starts. However, her psychic world is not understood. Therefore, little is known about her emotions. Manley comes from the woods, but Mrs Hopewell is unaware he was with her daughter. Hulga sits by herself and yearns for her prosthetic limb.
Good Country People Story Setting
In 1955, the action took place in the southern region of the US. Since O’Connor penned the narrative in the same year, it might be believed that this particular place is somewhere in Georgia, where Connor comes from. The year of the event may also be found on Harvey Hill’s automobile, who is Glinese’s husband. He is a 1955 Mercury driver.
The majority of the action occurs in Mrs. Hopewell’s kitchen. There are three daily meetings between the three main women, Mrs. Freeman, Mrs. Hopewell, and Hulga. In addition, they get together for meals at lunch and supper. Despite having her own family, Mrs. Freeman tries to join Hopewell’s for meals so she may see them eating. A woman’s life involves a tiresome ritual like this encounter. Due to their responsibilities in daily life, they must put up with each other’s presence every day.
The barn, where Hulga’s life’s critical moment occurs, serves as the second and most significant setting. It is a tiny, isolated, and rural area. It reflects Hulga’s psychological state as she struggles to survive in a remote region with her small group of friends. She has few alternatives and frequently finds herself in unpleasant circumstances, making her even more frustrated with the world.
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