How do Flannery O'Connor's religious beliefs inspire "Good Country People"?  

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In "Good Country People," Flannery O'Connor satirizes a young woman with a philosophy Ph.D. as she is duped by a country Bible salesman. O'Connor also makes her the target of satire as this character represents contemporary people who are the grotesques in their rejection of God. These people are perverse and crass, according to O'Connor because they turn away from God and work so hard to avoid salvation.

With her ugly name and artificial leg, Helga is grotesque; she is also spiritually grotesque because she believes in nothing. She has underlined in one of her philosophy books a certain line:  "We know it by wishing to know nothing of Nothing." But Manley Pointer, who has "an instinct that came beyond wisdom," touches "the truth about her"; Hulga's experience with him is "like losing her own life and finding it again" because he has exploited her, and she has learned of evil. Thus, Hulga attains grace and redemption as a result of an encounter with violence and evil. This is the "cryptic Christianity" and icy salvation that O'Connor often portrays in her short stories.


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Good Country People

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