The purpose of this paper is to introduce, discuss, and analyze the short story "Good Country People" by Flannery O'Connor. Specifically, it will discuss the themes and symbols used in the story. This surprising story uses the simple theme of good versus evil, but with an unexpected twist. The symbols of the Bible and God, versus the philosopher who believes in "nothing" are fairly common in literature, but O'Connor twists them to shock the reader, just as she twists the end of the story to leave the reader surprised and disappointed at the same time. The themes in this story lead the reader down one path, while the ending takes a turn the reader was never expecting.
From the beginning of this story, the author uses symbols and themes to lead the reader toward an expected outcome. One of the first symbols is Mrs. Freeman, who never seems to be surprised over anything. O'Connor writes, "Her forward expression was steady and driving like the advance of a heavy truck. Her eyes never swerved to left or right but turned as the story turned as
Freeman is never shocked, but the ending of this story is so shocking, it will probably cause her eyes to "swerve off the road" for once in her life. The themes and symbols she uses in this story help lead to that surprising ending, and make it all the more surprising and distressing. The end of this story was so surprising, it was shocking. That may be the most important symbol of the story, that no matter how smart a person is, they still have vulnerabilities, hopes, and dreams, and they may not always choose the right person to trust with those dreams. 'I know I never could'" (O'Connor 14). O'Connor uses her trust to show her anger. if they followed a yellow line down the center of it" (O'Connor 1). It seems that all "good country people" are not the "salt of the earth" (O'Connor 6), as Mrs. The symbolism here is a key to understanding the entire story. Hulga seems to symbolize evil in the story, while the "Christian" women symbolize good, but in the end, the symbols switch, and Hulga represents good or at least a sense of decency, while the "Christian" Bible salesman represents all that is evil in the world. 'You"tmre a fine Christian! You're just like them all - say one thing and do another'" (O'Connor 13). Thus, the symbols are not always what they seem in the story.