Good Country People Essay

1681 words - 7 pages

Only when you are strong enough to look within yourself, analyzing your faults and weaknesses, will you be able to withstand exploitation. Time and time again, egotistical people are hurt or humiliated because their belief in their own greatness leaves them blind. Such is the case with Hulga, the main character of Flannery O'Connor's Good Country People. As suggested in the title, O'Connor asks the reader to consider exactly what are the qualities that "a good person" is composed of. Hulga believes she is superior in this category because she is able to see people for what they truly are and it is her belief that she is the only one around that has the ability to do so. However, Hulga is brought to a rude awakening by yet another impostor of "a good country person." Being aware of the world's vast potential for unlimited disappointment, Hulga taught herself how to reject the physical world, a process through which she was able to devalue aesthetic beauty. O'Connor describes this by stating "as a child she had sometimes been subject to feelings of shame but education had removed the last traces of that as a good surgeon scrapes for cancer" (1103). The analogy of emotions as cancer further expresses Hulga's belief that things can only be taken for what they are and that matters of the heart clog the brain. The rejection, as talked about above, is demonstrated through Hulga's disregard for nature; "sometimes she went for walks but she didn't like dogs or cats or birds or flowers or nature or nice young men. She looked at nice young men as if she could smell their stupidity" (1095). It is obvious that Hulga feels this way because things of nature are beautiful and young men are attracted to a beauty that she herself lacks. In addition cats, dogs, and men all evoke emotion which is something that Hulga swore off in order to gain her "insight" as she might call it. This devaluation of beauty also caused Hulga to devalue herself which was evident though her changing her legal name for Joy to Hulga. O'Connor states that "she had arrived at it first on the basis of its ugly sound and then the full genius of its fitness had struck her" (1094). She goes on to further emphasize her point by stating "One of her major triumphs was that her mother had not been able to turn her dust into Joy, but the greater one was that she had been able to turn herself into Hulga" (1094). And as if the new name was not enough, O'Connor makes numerous references to Hulga thumping around on her fake leg and goes on to state that she did so just because it was "ugly-sounding" (1094). O'Connor sums up this whole process by stating "It seems to Mrs. Hopewell that everyday she grew less like other people and more like herself - bloated, rude, and squint-eyed" (1095). Through her education, Hulga lead herself to believe that seeing things as they are or viewing the world through a cynical lens is the only way to properly view it. Therefore, she saw her...

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