Flanery Oconner Good Country People

Topics: Southern United States, Christianity, A Good Man Is Hard to Find Pages: 7 (2661 words) Published: September 29, 2010
In "A Good Man Is Hard To Find", O'Connor introduces the reader to a family representative of the old and new Southern culture. The grandmother represents the old South by the way in which she focuses on her appearnace, manners, and gentile ladylike behavior. O'Connor writes "her collars and cuffs were organdy trimmed with lace and at her neckline she had pinned a purple spray of cloth violets containing a sachet. In case of an accident, anyone seeing her dead on the highway would know at once that she was a lady"(O'Connor 118). In this short story, "the wild diproportion of the terms, the vapid composure that summons up the ultimate violence only to treat it as a rare social opportuinty, and the cool irony with which O'Connor presents the sentence makes it both fearful and ludicrous"(Asals 132). The irony that O'Connor uses points out the appalling characteristics of the grandmother's self-deception that her clothes make her a lady and turns it into a comic matter. Flannery O'Connor goes to great length to give the reader insight into the characters by describing their clothes and attitudes. The fact that the grandmother took so much time in preparing herself for the trip exemplifies the old Southern tradition of self-presentation and self-pride. The grandmother takes pride in the way she presents herself because she wants everyone to know that she is a "lady". Bailey's, the grandson's, family represents that of the new Southern culture that is more open to change, but they are not totally receptive to change. O'Connor describes the children's mother in contrast to the grandmother by what they are wearing; thus their clothes represent the age from which they are. The Children's mother "still had on slacks and still had her head tied up in a green kerchief, but the grandmother had on navy blue straw sailor hat with a bunch of white dot in the print"(O'Connor 118). The children's mother is representative of the New South in which the Southern Lady is becoming less of a central figure within society. A lady of the old south would never wear slacks and tie her hair up in a kerchief to go out in public. Under an old south mentality these actions would be considered very unlady like. O'Connor illustrates the tension between the old and the new south by the constant struggle between the grandmother, her son, and the daughter-in-law.

O'Connor also poses the contrast between the old and new South in her short story "Good Country People". Mrs. Hopewell and Mrs. Freeman represent 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"(O'Connor 272). Mrs. Hopewell describes Mrs. Freeman and her two daughters as "two of the finest girls she knew and Mrs. Freeman was a lady and that she was never ashamed to take her anywhere or introduce her to anybody they might mett"(O'Connor 272). In contrast to Mrs. Freeman and Mrs. Hopewell, Joy/Hulga represents the new south that is not concerned with self presentation in the way that the grandmother is in "A Good Man Is Hard TO Find". Joy/Hulga did not care to participate in the morning gossip between the older ladies. O'Connor describes Joy/Hulga's disregard for the old south and its sense of manners: When Hulga stumped into the Kitchen in the morning (she could walk without making the awful noise but she made it--Mrs. Hopewell was certain--because it was ugly-sounding), she glanced at them and did not speak. Mrs. Hopewell would be in her red kimono with her hair tied around her head in rags. (275)

O'Connor juxtaposes Joy/Hulga to her mother, Mrs. Hopewell, by contrasting her mannerism, clothes, and overall demure. Joy/Hulga is described as making awful noises in contrast to her mother whom is sitting in her red kimono across the kitchen from her. Mrs. Hopewell's name is symbolic of her very...

Bibliography: Asals, Frederick. Flannery O 'Connor: The Imagination of Extremity. Athens, Georgia: The
University of Georgia Press, 1982.
Bleikstan, Andre. "The Heresy of Flannery O 'Connor". Critical Essays on Flannery
O 'Connor. Ed. Melvin J. Friedman and Beverly Lyon Clark. Boston: G. K. Hall & Co., 1985.
Friedman, Melvin J. Introduction. Critical Essays on Flannery O 'Connor. Ed. Melvin J.
Friedman and Beverly Lyon Clark. Boston: G. K. Hall & Co., 1985.
O 'Connor, Flannery. The Complete Stories of Flannery O 'Connor. New York: The Noonday
Press, 1971.
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