Short Stories, Irish literature, Classics, Modern Fiction, Contemporary Literary Fiction, The Japanese Novel, Post Colonial Asian Fiction, The Legacy of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and quality Historical Novels are Among my Interests

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

"Good Country People" by Flannery O'Connor

"Good Country People" by Flannery O'Connor (1955, 7 pages)

Please consider joining us for Irish Short Story Week Year Two, March 12 to March 22.   All you need do is post on one short story by an Irish author and send me a comment or and e mail and I will include it in the master post at the end of the challenge

"Good Country People" is the fourth story I have read by Flannery O'Connor (1925 to 1964-Georgia, USA).
With the reading of this story,  I am now firmly convinced of  the genius of O'Connor.   (There is some back ground information on O'Connor in my prior posts.)

Like her other stories and her novels, "Good Country People" is set in the rural south.    There are three central characters in the story.   Mrs Hopewell who has a farm she runs with the help of tenants, her daughter, and a traveling bible salesmen.    The mother prides herself on being a good country woman.    Her daughter,  she  named her "Joy", is  32.   She lost part of one of her legs in an accident with a shot gun when she was 12.   She has a prosthetic leg.   The daughter for reasons that completely baffle her mother, has gotten a PhD in philosophy.     The mother is a devout Christian, which does not stop her from speaking harshly about lots of people when they are not around.    One day a traveling bible salesman, Manly Pointer, comes by the house on a sales call.

Manly says he can see right away that Mrs Hopewell is a good country woman and he does not understand why she does not have a bible in her parlor.    She tells him that her daughter, who  for reasons not real clear, legally changed her name to "Hulga", is an atheist and so she has to keep her bible in the bedroom.

Mrs Hopewell tells Manly that she will not be able to buy a bible from him but he still accepts her offer to have dinner with her and her daughter.   Of course the daughter at first looks down on the bible salesmen.

What happened next in the story really shocked me.    I do not want to tell anymore of the plot.   It is just a perfect story.   Somehow all that the daughter learned in her vast education is useless in the face of real evil.

In just a few pages O'Connor brings the people in the story completely to life.   I admit I was left wanting to know what happens latter on in the live of the characters.   Some who do not like short stories will feel the story leaves them hanging.

You can read it online HERE.

If you have experience with O'Connor please let us know which of  her works you prefer.   I will be reading four more of her stories soon.    I hope in time to read all of them and will ponder reading her novels.    People who have read all of her work mostly say her short stories are her best work.

"Miss O'Connor, as far as I am
concerned you are Irish"-Rory

Mel u


As the Crowe Flies and Reads said...

My husband's favorite writer is Flannery O'Connor and he has been wanting me to read her stories for years now--maybe this summer will finally the year! Thanks for the review.

(Diane) Bibliophile By the Sea said...

I embarrassed to say I have not read a Flannery O'Connor since I left school, but do have a few on my shelf I hope to get to.

Mel u said...

As the Crowe Flies and Reads-I hope you like her as much as I am coming to-

Diane (Bibliophile by the Sea) no need to be embarrassed-I had not read anything by here until a few months ago-

Séamus Duggan said...

Wiseblood is a brilliant novel - in fact there is nothing that she wrote that's not worth reading.
I was thinking of her this week as one of her "successors", another great southern writer of the maimed Harry Crews died this week. He is a profoundly underrated writer, who many readers seem totally unaware of.