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Good Country People: Theme Paper Essay


Much of Flannery OConnors writing shows how she thinks the heart is dark and complex: a battlefield of mixed emotions such as greed and religious feelings. Her writing connects with inner personal beliefs and experiences, and shows how cruel and unusual a crooked heart can be. Good Country People has the cataclysmic encounter of pride of intelligence versus the corruptness of any human heart in any so-called good people, which is the theme of OConnors story.

Two of the main characters, Mrs. Hopewell and Mrs. Freeman, display how even the simplest of people can be corrupt. Mrs. Freeman, who is referred to and has convinced herself that she is a good country person, is corrupted by her obsession and fetish with the incurable sicknesses and illnesses that plague many people in that era. Mrs. Hopewell had a pride of intellect, in that she knew just how to handle Mrs. Freemans reaction to the incident that took her daughters leg. Mrs. Hopewell is described as having no bad qualities of her own, although she was able to use the bad qualities of others in such a way so that she could advance herself and her daughter. This is a very intellectual, yet dark way to live on her part.

Flannery OConnor presents such an irony of a theme that it can evolve in just one person by itself. Manley Pointer, or the so-called Bible salesman, presents himself in such a way that having a blackened heart and being corrupt works together to make such a twist in plot that you would not have suspected. Being a Bible salesman, one would think Mr. Pointer would be true to the heart, a solid Christian who knows the Bible and would be the typical good country person. He claimed that he wanted to become a missionary so that he could do good for people, which also illustrates a valiant attempt at hiding his true emotions in his heart. Later in the story, we learn that this simple person is really the corrupt, evil-hearted human, who craves for Hulgas wooden leg and other womans prostheses: I got a womans glass eye this way. We also discover that he lied about his name, and that he really isnt a Christian after all (145).

Lastly, the conflict of intellect versus corruptness takes on the battle between Hulga and Mr. Pointer, being the pride of intellect that is present in Hulga, having her Ph. D. in philosophy, and the corruptness and blackness of the heart of the Bible salesman, who has a dark human soul as well. Hulga is a very smart woman and knows it, considering she had a Ph. D. and felt that she would be talented at speaking to other people in a lecture hall, if it were not for her heart condition. The Bible salesman is a corrupted thief with a twisted fetish for artificial body parts. He uses his smart, criminal mind to sway the intelligent Hulga into letting him take her leg off and then distracts her with dark, sexual desires to keep her mind off of her missing leg. His sly ways allow him to walk off with Hulgas leg in tow, leaving her to reanalyze herself and to realize that there is no such thing as good country people.

It seems that Flannery OConnor sees the human heart as a pretty dark place where the ever-going confusion of intellect versus corruptness is contained. The characters she uses in her story helps to support this statement. The realizations that OConner makes are all too real in this world, and she has a gift for getting the point across that there cannot really be such a thing as good country people. Her writing displays the repeated archetypes that definitely prove the continuous battle between pride of intellect and corrupted hearts of the true good country people.

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