Art of Literature
15 September 2012
Humor in “Good Country People”
Flannery O’Connor has always liked to use various types of humor and irony in her stories centered around the dark, tragic, and uncomfortable ways of life. She uses these literary techniques to mask what she is truly trying to say. "Good Country People" by Flannery O'Connor is a prime example of humor and irony which makes fun of the simple, intellectual, as well as the incongruous people in the world.
The most blatant and simple type of humor is found while observing the flat characters of Mrs. Freeman and Mrs. Hopewell. These two women begin the story by participating in routine gossip with one another. Their constant bickering and desire to feel superior to the other is humorous because of how uneducated they sound. O’Connor puts them in the category of “good country people” due to the fact that they are pure, simple, and honest. This is ironic because good country people are referred and compared to as trash multiple times in the story. Another example of irony includes when Mrs. Hopewell said that the Freemans were a “godsend,” but the reason she had hired them was that there were no other applicants. Despite Mrs. Freeman being extremely nosy, Mrs. Hopewell ironically refers to her as a “lady and that she was never ashamed to take her anywhere or introduce her to anybody they might meet” (O’Connor 379). O’Connor uses these two women to lighten up the mood of the story before introducing Mrs. Hopewell’s atheist and pessimistic daughter Joy.
The humor that the author uses when describing Joy is more complex and tragic than any other character in the story. As a well-educated 32 year-old, Joy is not a pleasure to be around. Joy constantly suffers through tantrums and still dresses like a six year-old. While reading O’Connor’s description, it is hard not to laugh at the way she acts towards her mother as well as visitors. Joy “slams doors, stomps noisily...