The short story "Good country people" written by Flannery O'Connor focused on the attitude of people to behave accordingly to their set.
The plot includes a descriptive part with depicting the characters of the story and an action. The place where the story occurred is important, it is a rural area in the USA. Mrs. Freeman works as a servant for Mrs. Hopewell. Both of them used to behave in a very simple way.
This, what the author wrote about Mrs. Freeman: "Besides the neutral expression that she wore when she was alone, Mrs. Freeman had two others, forward and reverse, that she used for all her human dealings." Flannery O'Connor described one of her expression with a great sense of humor: "Her forward expression was steady and driving like the advance of a heavy truck. Her eyes never swerved to left or right but turned as the story turned as if they followed a yellow line down the center of it."
The boss of Mrs. Freeman, Mrs. Hopewell has similar traits, she thinks by using cliches. Mrs. Hopewell liked to tell people that Mrs. Freeman's daughters were the finest girls she knew and that Mrs. Freeman was a lady. In fact, they are ordinary people and nobody except Mrs. Freeman wasn't applied for the job for Mrs. Hopewell. "Nothing is perfect. This was one of Mrs. Hopewell's favorite sayings. Another was: that is life!". The author gave the name of the story "Good country people" because it was important to highlight for readers the attitude of the main characters to countryside people. Mrs. Hopewell "realized that nothing is perfect and that in the Freeman she had good country people".
The daughter of Mrs. Hopewell, Joy was thirty-two years old and highly educated, she had Ph.D. in philosophy and she was an atheist. Joy had an artificial leg. This fact had an essential matter, it was not easy even for her mother to communicate with her. Probably as an example of her hard character was the fact that as she was away from home, she had had it legally changed. Her legal name was Hulga.
One day the salesman, the young boy who represented himself as a Manley Pointer, came to their house. He tried to convince Mrs. Hopewell to buy a Bible."He seemed on the point of collapse but he said in a cheerful voice, “Good morning". He was quite an importunate person and Mrs. Hopewell thought about the way how to get rid of him. But when he said softly, “Well lady, I'll tell you the truth – not many people want to buy one nowadays and besides, I know I'm real simple. I don't know how to say a thing but to say it. I'm just a country boy”, the attitude of Mrs. Hopewell changed, she even invited him for the dinner.
Mrs. Hopewell was afraid that her daughter would say something rude to the Bible salesman and she was very surprised when she saw her daughter friendly talking with him.
Next day Manley Pointer invited Joy to walk with him. He kissed her. "She had never been kissed before and she was pleased to discover that it was an unexceptional experience and all a matter of the mind's control." He talked with her about Christian faith, she was sure that he was a simple country boy. He suggested going into the barn where they continue kissing. He asked Joy to say that she loves him and eventually she agreed to say it. "Okay then,” he said, letting her go. “Prove it.” He leaned over and put his lips to her ear. “Show me where your wooden leg joins on,” he whispered." This request shocked her but she agreed to show. He took her artificial leg off, opened his suitcase where Joy saw that the Bible was hollow and it contained a pocket flask of whiskey and a pack of cards.
The writer described this scene:
"Aren't you,” she murmured, “aren't you just good country people?”
“Give me my leg!” she screamed and tried to lunge for it but he pushed her down easily.
Her face was almost purple. “You're a Christian!” she hissed. “You're a fine Christian! You're just like them all – say one thing and do another. You're a perfect Christian, you're…”
The boy's mouth was set angrily. “I hope you don't think,” he said in a lofty indignant tone, “that I believe in that crap! I may sell Bibles but I know which end is up and I wasn't born yesterday and I know where I'm going!”
“I've gotten a lot of interesting things,” he said. “One time I got a woman's glass eye this way. And you needn't to think you'll catch me because Pointer ain't really my name... you ain't so smart. I been believing in nothing ever since I was born!”
I decided to decorate the end of this essay by the famous painting "American Gothic" by Grant Wood. It seems that the two people in this painting don't look open minded, they are sure that they are always right.
What is right and what is wrong, this a question. This short story gives food for thoughts about many difficult questions and dilemmas:
- about belief, about the word of God;
- about the attitude of people, using a cliche in terms of relationships;
- the weakness of an individual would hide under the seemingly strongest character.
It is the link to the text of this story:
Here we can listen the audio: