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This paper investigates the literature that is available on “Good Country People” by Flannery O’Connor. It elucidates certain literary skills like characterization, point of view, narration, imagery, symbolism and setting as used in the story. In each case, the paper provides quotations from the provided text in order to back its claims.
The story is about the life of a young man who disguises his identity in order to win a woman’s heart. He appears to the young woman as a bible-seller so that he can look more trustworthy. On the other hand, the woman also gives an image that is not really hers. They both believe that people will not accept them if they know their real identities. Essentially, the writer uses both direct and indirect characterization to show the extent to which people can go to evade social rejection (O’Connor, 1998).
In particular, Manley is portrayed as quite sly. He pretends to love the word of God so that people can think he is trustworthy. He is a typical country boy who lacks in self-confidence to command respect from his peers. And so, he fills this personality gap by deceiving people around him that he possesses a higher social standing. This exposes him as quite a sly character (O’Connor, 1998).
Point of View
The story is written from a third person’s point of view. It is clear that the author is an independent observer in the entire story. For example, she observes that Hulga is always angry and only finds an opportunity to relax when she meets Manley. During the occasion, she appears keen to use her intellectual prowess to intimidate Manley so that he can look different from a typical “good country people”.
However, it later becomes evident that she also belongs to this group of people. Essentially, the narrator is not personally involved in the events of the story, but he is in a position to see what the two characters are doing and even read their minds. This is typical of a third person’s point of view (O’Connor, 1998).
The author uses symbolism to emphasize the fact that a book’s cover should not be used to judge the book. The two main characters portray themselves as humble and trustworthy people, yet in reality the opposite is true. They are both keen to take advantage of each other rather than engage in a serious relationship.
For example, Manley only pretends to be a bible-seller in order to look holy and worthy of Hulga’s trust. In addition, the image of the wooden leg is introduced into the story to draw apathy towards Hulga. Every time it is mentioned, the reader feels pity and sympathy for her (O’Connor, 1998).
The story takes place in Georgia, inside a tenant farm. The dialect used significantly contributes to the identification of the setting. For example, Mrs. Freeman comments that, in case she doesn’t arrive before dust settles, then people can be certain that she is dead. This identifies the setting as somewhere around the rural South, where the use of idioms is quite popular (O’Connor, 1998).
In conclusion, the story uses both direct and indirect characterization to display the characters of Manley and Hulda. In addition, it applies an intricate combination of symbolism and imagery to expound on the storyline. These literary elements help the reader to deeply analyze the information conveyed.
O’Connor, Flannery (1998). Good Country People. Literature: Reading, Fiction, Poetry, Drama, and the Essay 4th Edition, 180-193.