Flannery O’Connors book
In her book, Good Country People, Flannery O’Connor uses irony as a technique in the book’s entirety to inspire the story with meaning. However, the most visible use of irony is the author’s choice of naming the characters according to their behavior to present the contradictions between their expectations and the reality. Characters “deformities” are ultimately exposed literally and in a figurative way.
Joy “Hopewell” Hulga is the lead woman in the story who lost her leg at the age of ten in a shooting accident causing her to form an unconventional attitude towards everything. She gets the name Joy first, but joy is impossible for her to reach (Magill, 1981). The artificial leg she wears makes her a distinct individual, which is a vulnerability Manley, explores. She is weak to pull the content of her name into the despairing life she is living. She looks down upon people and considers them hollow and stupid. The irony is depicted clearly when she does not hope well for the people around her because of her belief that life is beyond hope making her think she is vastly superior to people around her.
Mrs. Hopewell is Hulga’s mother has a typical view towards her surroundings basing on a simple assessment of herself at the top class of the society. She believes that she is in control of most aspects affecting her and hopes everything goes well in which nothing goes well to her wish. She hardly gets her hope well when the Bible Salesman exploits her, and he can hurt her precious daughter deeply. Despite continued referring her daughter as Joy, she fails to turn her dust into joy. Hulga responds in a mechanical way again and sets herself to against what her mother stands for therefore making her mother hopeless. She wishes that her daughter would be according to expectations only to be taken back when Joy turn out with a Ph.D. in philosophy
A vital role in the story
Manley Pointer plays a vital role in the story in that the author gives him the name to sound manly, which means having general qualities that are regarded as those of a man. Despite being known at outside as honorable, honest, and gentle, he proved his cowardice when coaxed Hulga to the isolated barn and took away her glasses and the artificial leg leaving her behind hopelessly and helpless. He never proves his manly virtues throughout the story despite calling himself Manley Pointer. His name Pointer also implies that he was going to point out something for Hulga. Manley is also described as Bible Salesman only to realize that he did not believe in anything
Mrs. Freeman is Mrs. Hopewell employ and a tenant in charge of managing the farm. In their frequent conversation involving gossips on superficial stuff, Mrs. Freeman often agrees with anything her employer says reinforcing her position to that sort of a servant. She is compared to a truck with three gears that tells the readers of Mrs. Freeman approach as machinelike and that she probably work like a machine in her house.
Flannery O’Connor, therefore, uses these instances of irony to give the readers a good view of what she is to communicate. Readers are therefore able to see the character’s failure in acknowledging themselves thus help to “hurl a decisive challenge at a cherished self-definition” (Asals,103).
Asals, Frederick. The Double. Modern Critical Views, or Flannery O’Connor. Ed. Harold Bloom. New York & Philadelphia: Chelsea House. 1986
Magill, Frank N.(ed.). Critical Survey of Short Fiction. Englewood Cliffs: Salem Press. 1981. Vols 5
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