Superiority in “Good Country People”

In Flannery O’Connor’s short story “Good Country People” the phrase “good country people” is repeated throughout the story. It is introduced as a descriptions of the Freemans and why Mrs. Hopewell kept them around: “The reason for her keeping them so long was that they were not trash. They were good country people” (1). While O’Connor doesn’t connote that “good country people” are bad people, by instituting the distinction between Mrs. Hopewell (the person who hired the Freemans) and the Freemans, O’Conner demonstrates that “good country people” are inferior. Then, as the story shifts to Hulga’s perspective, Hulga makes it clear that she too looks down upon “good country people.” O’Connor states, “Joy [Hula] had made it plain that if it had not been for this condition, she would be far from these red hills and good country people “(4). These two quotations infer that the Hopewells believe “good country people” to be inferior to them.

However, as part of his ruse, Manley Pointer introduces himself as a “good country person” (6). This then leads to Hulga’s desire to seduce and shatter Pointer’s innocence (which she believes he has because of his status as a “good country person). Nevertheless, Hulga doesn’t succeed and as Pointer steals her artificial leg and runs, she cries, “aren’t you just good country people?” (14). She is in disbelief at his crime because she believed herself so superior.

Thus, O’Connor concludes her story with the notion that no person is superior to the other. Hulga believed herself morally and intellectually superior; however, in the end, it was revealed that she wasn’t.

2 thoughts on “Superiority in “Good Country People”

  1. Zoe H

    Cassie, this makes me feel like my fear of cornfields is more rational. Honestly though, this intellectual superiority is something we have talked about a lot. It is so pervasive at OPRF. As someone who takes what our society perceives as “intellectually superior classes,” I hate this elitism. People need to recognize that being good at school is a limited scope of intelligence, and being a thoughtful, curious, and empathetic goes a lot farther than test scores, GPAs, and grades. Great thinkers usually don’t fit this rigid form of “academia” because they are creative, and because they want to discover things.

    Liked by 1 person

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