Within Flannery O’Connor’s “Good Country People”, one would find many paradigms of imitations and foolishness and none of the “good country” personalities the title so tries to imply and uphold. This short story encompasses the lives of these false characters, each tried and fated within the hardship named life, but no retribution so necessary than Hulga’s. Her flamboyant distress of distinction and judgment alters her state of belief and turns it into an ironic form of Nihilism, or faith in nothing, bringing with it her ultimate calamity.
First impression includes much of Hulga’s character, with her repugnant and discriminating air, so starts the most interesting nihilistic paradox. So indignant and frustrated, seemingly with others but truly with herself. Her shallow ways contradicting with the nature of her knowledge, failing to live up to easily the oldest philosophical admonitions in the history of time: “Know Thyself”. She exclaims constantly to Mrs. Freeman, “If ...view middle of the document...
In one occasion, Mrs. Hopewell picked up her daughters book and read what she considered gibberish. According to Elizabeth Hubbard, Hulga herself entirely misreads Heidegger in assuming that he feels her own perspective. Hubbard continues on to explain that in “What Is Metaphysics?” Heidegger critiques the modern scientific mindset for its narrowness. Ironically, we witness Hulga’s concern “solely with what-is,” which belongs to her disdainful rejection of the spiritual, and so what Hulga takes from this passage is exactly what Heidegger is arguing against. Much like a Christian who picks through the bible, so is Hulga selective of her belief.
Further within the story, Hulga’s satire becomes even more complex with the introduction of Manley Pointer. He is first introduced as a bible salesman, as part of the “Good Country People”, which is known to be a non-existing population in the story. In the beginning, Pointer represents the epitome of everything that Hulga hates, this entire picture of Christianity which to her is the same as lunacy. Being Nihilistic entails that God is blasphemous and the afterlife preposterous. Man is the epitome of creation and admiration. The sarcastic tone first begins with her being infatuated by him, someone who she considered not like herself and despised; looking at “nice young men as if she could smell their stupidity”. The irony reaches its climax when Hulga, Even despite her contempt for Christians, chooses to believe in a “good country man” by letting Pointer have her wooden leg, the sun of her universe. Hulga is exceptionally shocked when Manley fails to comprise to standard Christian values. Manley Pointer gave her the lesson of a lifetime, and truly in the end is the only nihilistic philosopher in the story. Consequently, her surrender led to her the destruction of both her faith and intellectual power; mockingly through the betrayal from the one man whom she logically decided to have faith in, Manley Pointer.
In continuance, Hulga continuously claims to be supported by nihilism. Talking about love as she tells Pointer, "I don't have illusions. I'm one of those people who see through to nothing" Even if Hulga truly believes that love is a misconception, then consistency demands she feel the same about hate. Hulga's faith is nothing other than a mystical vision of nothing.