This essay will delve into the life of Flannery O’Connor not only as it is told biographically but as her life relates and is reiterated in the stories she writes. By using O’Connor’s fiction as a backdrop to her life, the essay will focus on the bizarre characterization of the protagonists of O’Connor’s stories as much as O’Connor herself was a very unique person. Thus, O’Connor will be exemplified as being explained through her characters such as in the story Good Country People. O’Connor was a great user of allegory in her stories.
As O’Connor in her life was an introvert most of her characters are gregarious such as in Good Country People and the character Hulga. Hulga denies herself first in the story by the changing of her name from Joy to Hulga which signifies O’Connor’s own contempt of falsities. She is stating through the character Hulga that people are prone to be blind in areas in which they should be keeping both eyes open. She states this in regard to events in her own life such as growing up Catholic in a mostly Protestant neighborhood.
Hulga is blind to her own personality and what she is capable of doing and by changing her name she is trying to rewrite her own history. O’Connor as a write can sympathize with this notion as through her characters O’Connor is trying to find her own identity. O’Connor’s true niche in writing lay with the creation of the tragic hero. She felt that she herself was a tragic hero since she at once had to overcome a physical malady as well as remain static because of that malady and thereby not enjoy the world nor prove to the world the capabilities of the self; herself.
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Her second belief was that the world is charged with God (Wikipedia).
She was unapologetic in her writing style and the ‘grotesque’ characters with which she filled her stories. Each character of O’Connor’s fiction brought on a fundamental change for the character. When Hulga changes her name and then meets Manly Pointer and goes through a very quick transformation. The rejection of the name Joy to the embrace of the name Hulga reveals for the audience that Hulga does not enjoy herself but expects life to be filled with disappointment and in fact has been taught as much from family and neighbors.
Upon meeting Manly Pointer Hulga, Hulga is contemptuous and sees herself as better then him whom she describes as simple and dim witted yet agrees to go on a picnic with him in order to show him a deeper meaning to life (Hulga is hung up on suffering and sadomasochistic fantasies).
In fact, Hulga is the one who is ignorant about the world as Manly Pointer demonstrates a series of hoodwinking events in which he seduces Hulga and leaves with her wooden leg. This is where Manly Pointer reveals his true self and where the reader is exposed to the true Hulga. O’Connor was brilliant at recognizing the validity of a person in key moments.
Hulga had to be stripped of her dignity in order to be humble and recognize some truths about herself. This parlays to the fact of O’Connor’s illness and her attempting to make sense and assign some sort of purpose to the disease in which she could see none as a Catholic expect to think of it as a way in which it allowed herself to remain humble before God. As O’Connor states in Good Country People, “Everybody is different,” Mrs. Hopewell said. “Yes, most people is,” Mrs. Freeman said. “It takes all kinds to make the world. ” “I always said it did myself. ” (O’Connor 181 -82)
Thus, O’Connor is exemplifying that diversity is the key to the enjoyment of life and that ascertaining to the idea of perfection is unconscionable. O’Connor’s niche in literature was the writing of tragedy. This is seen not only when Manly Pointer steals Hulga’s leg and she must wait for assistance up in the tree house. O’Connor wanted her characters to be presented through a dichotomy of good and bad or through their capabilities of violence paired with their being touched by divine grace (Wikipedia).
... and Good Country People by Flannery O'Connor the authors show how a character is corrupted and changed from an existentialist ... absence of good nothing. Hulga means, by 'nothing,' her existential philosophy, that life has no meaning or purpose. Manly again means evil. ... having the only thing they believed destroyed. In both stories the author uses both existentialist which is corrupted by nihilist ...
This change then is painful; for Hulga it is pride and the fact that she is faced with her own ineptitude and country ways.
Each character falls in the story, tragically and ironically. Thus, O’Connor is not sentimental in her stories which reveals a character trait of her own; the absence of pity from her life as it is from her stories. This plays into the concept of identity which relates to most of O’Connor’s characters; the self journey and the eventual finding of the self at the end of the journey no matter who the self truly is. O’Connor for her part led a very sheltered life so the theme of a journey is prevalent in most of her stories, especially in Good Country People.
O’Connor liked to write about displaced people because she herself felt out of place or even she felt this theme got to the truth of humanity faster than a character that already has sought redemption at the beginning of the story. O’Connor wrote about the journey just as much as she wrote about the metamorphoses of the characters since for O’Connor it was in the change of character, the switch from sin to asking for forgiveness that marked her life.
Work Cited O’Connor, Flannery. Good Country People. Harcourt Company, Noonday Press, 1977.