Good Country People

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O'Connor poses the contrast between the old and new South in her short story "Good Country People". Mrs. Hopewell and Mrs. Freeman symbolize the old South because of the way in which they carry themselves and their traditional beliefs and values. Mrs. Freeman works for Mrs. Hopewell who states "the reason for her keepin her so long was that they were not trash. They were good country people". In contrast to Mrs. Freeman and Mrs. Hopewell, Joy/Hulga represents the new south that is not concerned with self. Hulga did not care to participate in the morning gossip between the older ladies. O'Connor describes Hulga's disregard for the old south and its sense of manners. Within this short story, the reader is presented with two differing views of religion: the devout Christian and the atheist. The devout Christians, Mrs. Hopewell and Mrs. Freeman, represents the old south. The story ends with the atheist being deceived by one who pretends to be a Christian. O'Connor could be presenting the reader with the view that one is not able to really tell the difference between "good country people" and Christian or liars and cheats. "Good Country People" can be read as exploiting the idea that one is not able to tell the difference between Christians and non-Christians based on their appearance and actions. The old south puts their trust and hopes into appearances, while the new south is more reluctant and cautious. This is not to say that they cannot be deceived because the reader sees what happens to Hulga in the end. Hulga is an atheist who dismisses all Christian beliefs. Hulga believes that she is saved from the hypocrisies of the Christian faith, and she represents the new south because she is open to different interpretations. She feels that she has been saved from Christianity, but O'Connor raises the question: is she really saved at all? Hulga sets off to seduce Pointer, the Bible salesman. Ironically, it is Pointer that teaches Hulga the lesson that needs to be...
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