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Things Are Not Always As They Seem

With “Good Country People” Essay, Research Paper Things Are Not Always What They Seem With “Good Country People” “Why that looks like the nice dull young man that tried to sell me a Bible

With “Good Country People” Essay, Research Paper

Things Are Not Always What They Seem With “Good Country People”

“Why that looks like the nice dull young man that tried to sell me a Bible

yesterday,” Mrs. Hopewell said, squinting. “He must of been trying to sell them to the

Negros back in there. He was so simple,” she said, “but I guess the world would be better

off if we were all that simple” (145). At the end of the story, Mrs. Hopewell considers

Manley Pointer “simple.” Little did she know that this “simple” man had just caused Hulga

severe mental and physical anguish. Her ignorance towards the underlying evil in the

world turns out to be her greatest fault. Situations are not always as they seem, and unless

one first looks within, his or her weaknesses may be exploited through evil doings. In

Flannery O’Connor’s short story, “Good Country People,” irony is seen throughout the

story relating as the contradiction between what is thought to be a good country person

and what really turns out to be evil.

There are several examples of irony in O’Connor’s short story. Several people, as

well as objects, in this story appear to be one thing and end up being just the opposite. The

most obvious is Manley Pointer who appears to be “good country folk” and ends up being

symbolic of all evil. The Bible carried by Manley turns out to be nothing more than a

hiding place for “a pocket flask of whiskey, a pack of cards, and a small blue box with

printing on it” (135). Joy-Hulga appears to be accepting of her situation, but she is still

very ashamed of her appearance. In the story, both Hulga and Manley wear masks over

their true natures. Their final confrontation, however, reveals Manley to be a cunning

atheist while Hulga is exposed as a girl whose naivete sharply contradicts the nihilistic

cliches she professes. After the confrontation in the hay loft with Hulga, Manley is

revealed as an abuser and a thief, but only to Hulga.

There are two types of irony throughout this story, situational irony and verbal

irony. Situational irony is found when Hulga is expecting to seduce an innocent, however,

it turns out to be quite different. Joy-Hulga is easily the most taken advantage of character

in the entire story. As her ugly sounding name implies, she appears ugly and evil, but deep

down she has a desire for love and happiness. She says, “I am one of those people who see

through to nothing” (115). Little does she know, that she recognizes one of her greatest

weaknesses in this statement. Hulga has said one thing but her hidden desires cause her

several problems later on. For example, the whole scene that takes place in the hay loft,

which is know as verbal irony. Manley was thought of as a “good country folk”, however,

this was quickly changed around when he seduces Hulga in the hay-loft and takes her leg.

Little does Hulga know that Manley Pointer “has been believing in nothing since he was

born” (145).

The irony of the story is in essence who was thought to be a good country boy

turned out to be very evil in causing harm to one of Mrs. Hopewell and Mrs. Freeman’s

own. Although Hulga was not the good Christian girl that they had hoped for, they still

never imagined Hulga being put through great physical and mental anguish. Unfortunately,

they were unable to recognize evil surrounding them the whole time. Just when they

believed Manley was trying to sell the bibles to the negros, … “she (Mrs. Freeman)

returned her attention to the evil-smelling onion shoot she was lifting from the ground”

(145). Ironically, Manley Pointer happens to walk by right as she picks the “evil-smelling”

onions.

In conclusion, all throughout O’Connor’s short story “Good Country People,”

situations were not always as they seemed. The title itself is very ironic. Throughout the

story, Manley was putting on a fake front and was not the person he appeared to be.

O’Connor seems to be saying that one must not be fooled or the consequences could be

severe much like they were with Hulga.

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