In today's society you would be hard pressed to find an individual who lives their entire life on the sole concept of blind faith. From the moment a child is born, he or she is constantly exploring what's beyond the great horizons by relying on their developing senses. However, as we grow older we begin to question the validity of our senses. As writer Flannery O' Connor stated," The things we see, smell, and touch, affect us long before we believe anything at all. ( DiYanni 169) So how do we know what we perceive is what is occurring?
Manipulation of the senses through symbolism, imagery, and detail observation is a tool that Flannery O' Connor has artfully mastered. Throughout her works we are introduced to characters who see society based from a somewhat distorted view that has been developed over time. Displayed prominently in her short story, " Good Country People"; each character creates thoughts and opinions based from knowledge, past experiences, and stereotypes; rather than face value observation. However, as the story continues the primary character (Hulga) is faced with the blaring truth that her senses and intellect had failed her, leaving her vulnerable and questioning the reliability of her, "finely tuned" senses. Such is the same for the character of the grand mother in O'Connor's short story, " A Good Man is Hard to Find." Her yearn for the nogstalia of the past and intrusive and over bearing nature allowed her senses to be manipulated into believing that people who had proper upbringing were good civilized people. However, staying true to the O' Connor style she is also betrayed by her perceptions causing her to live out the last moments of her life staring at the face of a cold hearted killer.
O' Connor's literary works skillfully toys with the character's view of the world surrounding them. In an article entitled, The Analogical Imagination of Flannery O'Connor, published by Christianity and Literature; professor Peter Chandler of Baylor University states, " The visible realities of this world only take on a fullness of meaning- indeed they only become truly visible when seen in the paradoxical light of the unseen."(12) Throughout O' Connor's short stories she allows the primary characters to create a false perception of the secondary characters via the logic and reasoning from their senses. However, staying true to her style the short story, "Good Country People" is a solid example of how the character senses can be gravely betrayed. Within the story, the reader is introduced to the character of Ms. Hopewell, an urbanized and semi- cultured elderly woman, who perceives people from the rural population to be of good character, and to a certain degree a lesser intellect of her own. However, unseen to her perception is the true motive of the good "country folk."
He came into the parlor and sat down on the edge of a straight chair and put the suitcase between his feet and glanced around the room as if he were sizing her up...