In "Good Country People," how do handicaps symbolize the greater handicap of the intellect, the heart, and the soul?

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rdb919 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In Flannery O'Connor's "Good Country People," one of the main characters, Hulga, suffers from a handicap. She has only one leg and uses a prosthetic leg to get around. She puts much emphasis on her false leg, clomping around the house loudly, especially when her mother is around. She uses it as an excuse for why she can't do things and emphasizes how it has negatively affected her life. This handicap, however, represents a greater handicap, according to O'Connor. Hulga may have gone to school and earned a degree, but she is not putting her intelligence to good use because she claims her leg won't let her work. In addition, O'Connor portrays Hulga as a spiritually empty person who cannot love--both of these things are represented by her handicap. The message O'Connor sends, then, is that Hulga's real handicap is not her leg, it is who she is as a person.

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Good Country People

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