• Jacob Hess

Good Country People: A Story By O'Connor

Updated: 5 days ago

Today I will be sharing my thoughts on O’Connor’s short story called Good Country People. I would enjoy hearing your thoughts as well so feel free to comment below or send me a message.

Good Country People is about a middle aged intellectual woman named Joy, or as she prefers Hulga, who lives with her mother due to a heart condition and her wooden leg. In the story, Hulga is the perfect example of a nihilist[1] for not only does she believe in nothing, but she thinks others should find their own salvation in coming to the same conclusion.[2] Yet, Hulga comes face to face with the outcome of such unbelief after attempting to seduce a man whom she considers to be a simple Bible salesmen when he robs her of her wooden leg. This reversal is revealed in the Bible salesmen’s last words to Hulga, “‘you ain’t so smart. I been believing in nothing ever since I was born.’”[3]


I believe that this awful encounter in Good Country People acts as an interruption of God’s grace as the thieving Bible salesman reveals to Hulga an image of sin and her need for God’s redeeming love. C. E. Morgan writes, “Hulga has propped herself up on the flimsy wooden legs of nihilism, intellectualism and humanism. It’s only when seduced by the Bible salesman and robbed of her limiting beliefs that she trades the intellectual for the sapiential, or worldly knowledge for divine humility.”[4] O’Connor, in this story, helps us to see that “the essence of evil” is not “theft nor rape nor murder nor even genocide, but unbelief, the refusal to trust God with the totality of our lives.”[5] O’Connor saw such unbelief running rampant in her own day in a world disenfranchised by the woes of modernity, yet still remaining too self-reliant to place hope in God’s redeeming and transforming love. It is an unbelief that continues to bring much pain today.

[1] Ralph C. Wood, Flannery O'Connor and the Christ-Haunted South. 179.

[2] Flannery O’Connor, “Good Country People." In Flannery O'Connor: The Complete Stories. 286.

[3] Ibid., 291.

[4] C.E. Morgan, "Grace Hurts: Conversion in Flannery O'Connor's Fiction." Christian Century 130, no. 17 (2013): 32-34. Accessed May 18, 2015. http://web.a.ebscohost.com. 34.

[5] Ralph C. Wood, Flannery O'Connor and the Christ-Haunted South.182.


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