What is the treatment of faith in "Good Country People" and "Young Goodman Brown"?

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

O'Connor's "Good Country People" and Hawthorne's "Young Goodman Brown" explore the consequences of the foolishness of intellectual pretensions. For, both Goodman and Ulga set upon a venture confident in their convictions, sure that nothing will change their beliefs that they are among an elite group that is superior to others. Goodman Brown believes that he is among the Puritan elect and his faith is an absolute, personified in his wife Faith. In contrast, Hulga believes in nothing, but is equally convinced that she is right in her philosophy, telling the Bible salesman Manley Pointer,

"...some of us have taken off our blindfolds and see that there's nothing to see. It's a kind of salvation."

Although of different perspectives regarding their faiths, both Goodman and Hulga lose faith in what they believe. Faced with the hypocrisy of the pillars of his church, Goody Cloyse and Deacon Gooden, in the forest primeval, Goodman is confronted with the realization that "[E]vil is the nature of mankind"; consequently, he becomes a "distrustful, if not a desperate man...from the night of that fearful dream." Goodman Brown loses his faith in the Puritan elect.  Like Goodman, Hulga, too, loses faith; however, she loses faith in Nothingness. This means that she is now open to knowledge, especially the knowledge of evil, and, thus, can be redeemed--unlike Goodman whose Calvinistic Puritan theology has failed him.

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Young Goodman Brown

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