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In the story, "Good Country People," will Hulga change?I was curious to know whether or...

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jtorrence1 | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted May 5, 2008 at 1:23 PM via web

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In the story, "Good Country People," will Hulga change?

I was curious to know whether or not Hulga will change her ways after she experiences her epiphany.

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podunc | College Teacher | (Level 2) Associate Educator

Posted May 5, 2008 at 1:55 PM (Answer #2)

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O'Connor, of course, leaves this question unanswered at the end of her story with an ambiguous ending. You could make a good case, however, that Hulga will change in some way after her encounter with the Bible salesman. In her book on writing called Mystery and Manners, O'Connor explains why her stories contain shocking events and even violence:

" . . .  in my own stories I have found that violence is strangely capable of returning my characters to reality and preparing them to accept their moment of grace" (112).

O'Connor usually doesn't show the change in her characters, just the shock and violence that precedes it. In her final description of Hulga, however, she is "sitting on the straw in the dusty sunlight"--an innocent, almost madonna-like pose. This ending suggests that Hulga may well be ready to accept her "moment of grace."

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pmiranda2857 | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted May 5, 2008 at 4:34 PM (Answer #3)

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I think that it is possible for Joy/Hulga to re-examine her beliefs in view of the fact that she has now come face to face with abject cruelty in the form of Manley Pointer, an individual devoid of feeling.  She thought she was cold and uncaring and didn't believe in anything, but with the treatment she receives from him, she calls out for Christian charity, mercy. If she was beyond all belief, she would, I believe have found some sense of depraved pleasure in the removal of her wooden leg.  She is not as bad as Pointer. 

Joy/Hulga is a very educated woman, I think that on an intellectual level she will evaluate her beliefs and although she may not outwardly change, I think that her perception and assessment of peope will change in the future.

Since Flannery O'Connor uses religious themes in her short stories, I think that the author would say that Joy/Hulga is not beyond redemption and change is definitely possible.  

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amy-lepore | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted May 6, 2008 at 10:03 AM (Answer #4)

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Anything is possible, but Joy/Hulga is probably going to be more sullen and bitter than ever now that she has been one-upped by one of those darned "good country people" from whom she distances herself with her intellect and education.

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msbrenner | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Adjunct Educator

Posted February 22, 2009 at 8:54 PM (Answer #5)

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Anything is possible, but Joy/Hulga is probably going to be more sullen and bitter than ever now that she has been one-upped by one of those darned "good country people" from whom she distances herself with her intellect and education.

I think that would be true if Joy was left thinking that Manley Pointer actually WAS 'good country people' but it seems to me that she is convinced by the activities in the hayloft that is not the case.  What I find interesting about the end of the story is that it begs the reader to question how she got down and back to the house without her glasses/leg--impossible to do without help and the only ones there to help her ARE those 'good country people' judgemental and simple as they may be.  From this, I think that O'Connor lets us believe that she will change, not that her mother hadn't helped her before, but certainly not in a period of such emotional upheaval.

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted February 26, 2012 at 11:19 AM (Answer #6)

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Violent acts are usually opportunities for grace in O'Connor's works, so it seems that Hulga who if left with nothing to reject but her nihilism may, indeed, recover her lost faith.  What else can she do but humble herself and turn to God?

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e-martin | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted September 12, 2012 at 5:53 PM (Answer #7)

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I do not see how Hulga could hang on to her confidence (or arrogance depending how you see her) after being so wrong about Manley. This, to me, suggests a necessary change of view for her. She will no longer be able to go about with such a blithe and sure sense that she knows the truth about herself and the world.

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