Good Country People
Joy/Hulga, as the story?s main character, is the singly most significant character to the themes of this story. She is characterized as brilliant and academically sophisticated, yet naïve to the feelings and motivations of others. Ironically, Hulga has a Ph.D. in philosophy, yet she has a very narrow view of her world and no insight into other people?s true character. This contrast in Hulga?s character is the topic of one of the story?s themes: academic knowledge is not to be confused with common sense.
O?Connor continues to establish theme through her characterization of Hulga. She describes Hulga as being cynical about the world and the people she knows. The irony here is that she sees these people as being simple ?country people,? she doesn?t see them as they actually are, full of hidden feelings and motivations. She views herself as superior to her mother, Mrs. Hopewell, and her mother?s tenant, Mrs. Freeman. Her opinion of the other characters as less than herself, because of their tendency to see their world through the eyes of southern women, limits Hulga?s interaction with them. She never gives them credit for having thoughts any deeper than the superficial conversations they have about every day life.
The omniscient narrator allows the reader to see that Hulga?s stereotyping of the other characters is flawed; she never bothers trying to get to know the others as real people. If she had, she would have realized that