Literature Plots of Deception

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The Plots of Deception

L. Ann Williams

ENG 125: Introduction to Literature

Instructor: Professor Brendan Praniewicz


The Plots of Deception

Deception can occur many ways in a story, play or poem. Several of the literary works we read in this class involved deception as a plot. Many of the people we read about appeared to be one type of person and ended up being a totally different one. I found it interesting that works by Flannery O’Connor, Lorraine Hansberry and Oscar Wilde could all have a deception plot as a theme. All three stories, although very different in many ways, have in them a common type of individual; that being a person who is either deceiving another whether intentional or not.

“Good Country People”
In “Good Country People,” Manley Pointer appears to be a young misperceived country boy who sells bibles, but this is an illusion of appearance versus reality. Pointer is so heavily weighted down by his suitcase that he is lopsided and has to “brace himself to prevent collapsing” making him appear to be misbalanced like Joy who is also known as Hulga. This heaviness foreshadows a quality of falsehood that one carries that makes their mind, soul, and body heavy. Misplaced faith in appearances is central to the themes of this story. Appearance and deception conflict with reality and truth, as Pointer assures Mrs. Hopewell that he is like her and can exchange generalizations about “good country people” as readily as Mrs. Freeman. The biblical quotation, Matthew 10:30, foreshadows the story’s ironic ending. Mrs. Hopewell prides herself in not being taken for a fool, but this boy seemed “so sincere, so genuine and earnest.” In a way, both literally and ironically, Pointer is a missionary, though not as Mrs. Hopewell believes. He delivers the message that not all people are what they appear to be. We see the character Joy (also known as Hulga) as isolated from her community but receives...
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