Masterpiece Monday: “Good Country People”

Flannery O'Connor

Image via Wikipedia

Rating: 5 out of 5

Happy Halloween everybody! I should have reserved Poe for this spooky holiday, but because I’ve already reviewed some of his stories, I decided to discuss another Gothic short story of Flannery O’Connor’s called “Good Country People.”

O’Connor (1925-1964) was an intriguing author from the South who often was criticized for her grotesque writing style. Although a Roman Catholic, she also made controversial claims about religion. The ironically titled “Good Country People”  (1955) pokes fun at Christians and atheists alike by sending the message that everyone can experiences moments of naivete and ignorance.

The story follows Joy Hopewell, a 30-year-old well-educated atheist, who changes her name to Hulga to  rebel against her evangelical mother. One day, a traveling Bible salesman humorously named Manly Pointer visits mother and daughter at home. Mrs. Hopewell believes Pointer is “good country people,” but the reader gets the impression that he’s not what he seems.

Joy decides to go on a date with Pointer and try to seduce him. They go inside the farm’s barn loft, and it soon becomes a battle of wits on who will take advantage of whom. I won’t give the story away because it’s a fantastic read that will keep you guessing until the end.

I love O’Connor’s use of satire: her writing is smart without sounding pretentious, and although this story’s easy to read, there’s many things going on between the lines. If you’re interested in a mysterious tale that’s not traditionally scary, “Good Country People” won’t let you down!

Favorite Quote: “Nothing is perfect. This was one of Mrs. Hopewell’s favorite sayings. Another was: that is life! And still another, the most important, was: well, other people have their opinions too. She would make these statements, usually at the table, in a tone of gentle insistence as if no one held them but her, and the large hulking Joy, whose constant outrage had obliterated every expression from her face, would stare just a little to the side of her, her eyes icy blue, with the look of someone who had achieved blindness by an act of will and means to keep it.”

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