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Analysis of "Good Country People" by Flannery O'Connor

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 if they followed a yellow line down the center of it" (O'Connor 1). The symbolism here is a key to understanding the entire story. Mrs. 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. Several symbols of the story revolve around the daughter, Joy/Hulga. Clearly, the name Joy is a misnomer, because Hulga is one of the most unhappy and dissatisfied people anywhere. She is ugly outside, but even worse, she is ugly inside, where it really counts. Her name is in direct opposition to her character, and even she can see that, so she changes it to something equally ugly. She symbolizes the non-believer and cynic in the story, and yet, in the end she is more vulnerable than all the others are, because she finally trusts someone, and her trust is shattered. She, for all her philosophy, still trus...

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Analysis of "Good Country People" by Flannery O'Connor. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 11:19, August 28, 2014, from