Flannery O’connor’s Good Country People Essay

1394 words - 6 pages

Flannery O’Connor’s “Good Country People,” describes the lives of a mother, Mrs. Hopewell and her daughter, Joy and the irony of their relationship. This passage from the short story expounds on their character development through details of their lives. The selected paragraph uses a matter-of-fact tone to give more information about Mrs. Hopewell and Joy. Flannery O’Connor has given an objective recount of the story, which makes the third person narrator a reliable source. Mrs. Hopewell’s feelings are given on her daughter to examine their relationship. It is reader who takes these facts to create an understanding of these women and their lives. This part of the story illustrates the aspects of their lives that they had little control over. Therefore, it indirectly shows how each woman acclimated to their circumstance. Although genetically related and living with one another, Mrs. Hopewell and Joy were exceedingly different people.
The passage relies on the setting of the story. It is written in 1955 and women were not seen as equal to men as they are in contemporary times. Women had more of a domestic role, while men were educated and worked to support the family. In that time, a country family had religious valves that Joy did not follow, unlike her mother. Mrs. Hopewell did not appreciate Joy’s success in her education. She believed girls went to school for their enjoyment not as a serious scholar, seeking intellect and a greater understanding of the world. Joy getting a Ph.D. in Philosophy is seen as a disappointment for a woman like Hrs. Hopewell. In an addition to the historical setting, the physical setting of their home on the farm plays a role in this story. For someone who is living in a rural area with wide-open acres and limited neighbors, a doctorate in Philosophy seems to have very little value. This leads to one of the reasons why Hopewell and Joy strained relationship.
As a character, Mrs. Hopewell is static and stubborn in her views. Mrs. Hopewell questions her daughter’s choices in life because she loves her. She has a “mother knows best,” mentality yet her only daughter is not like her nor does she follow her mother’s wishes. Joy’s heart condition keeps her at home with Hopewell. This fact and her daughter’s prosthetic leg made Hopewell feel sympathetic for Joy. Therefore, rather than respecting Joy in her passion, she treats her like a child even though she is in her thirties. The story frequently refers to Joy as the girl as an example of how she is treated. Hopewell has also given up on her daughter getting married and starting a family. The doctors have informed her that Joy only has a couple more years left to live. The mother is essentially waiting for her daughter to die. Joy does not fit into her ideal of life and accepts this fact that she will never be perfect. This is shown by Hopewell letting Joy dress and act as she pleased. Her few attempts in trying to connect with her daughter were not genuine seen she was...

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