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Self-Delusion and Blindness in O'Connor's "Good Country People"

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Introduction

Blindness, or, the lack of awareness, whether it concerns one’s self or the world around them, is a common affliction suffered by the majority of humankind. Those without the insight or experience to rid themselves of their ignorance and naïve notions are doomed to suffer from their consequences, such as the susceptibility to arrogance and self-importance and the destruction of relationships. In the short story, “Good Country People” by Flannery O’Connor, the characters suffer from self-delusion as well as blindness to the outside world; however, O’Connor offers them a figure of grace in hopes of opening their eyes. The characters in the story suffer from blindness to their true selves, which harms their relationships with each other. Mrs. Hopewell and Mrs. Freeman are two characters that experience such blindness, as they are unaware of the reality that they are simple and naïve, but believe themselves to be wise. The self-delusion that Mrs. Hopewell and Mrs. Freeman suffer from cause them to believe that they are wise and superior to the simple-minded. ...read more.

Middle

In reality, Mrs. Hopewell and Mrs. Freeman prove to be naïve and simple-minded, but very stubborn in their ignorant views. They believe that the simple and nonsensical clichés they state on a daily basis operate as truths, the philosophies that they live by, and this leads them to assume that the world is much more simple-minded than it actually is. To them, the world is limited to the naïve notions and misconceptions they hold about it. Throughout the story, Mrs. Hopewell also proves to be very simple-minded, as she expresses her ignorant views concerning her daughter’s education. She believes that “it [is] nice for girls to go to school to have a good time,” not necessarily to get an education, and that philosophy “had ended with the Greeks and Romans” (O’Connor 4). When her daughter, Hulga, who is frustrated with her mother’s vain simple-mindedness, demands that she “look inside and see what [she] is not”, Mrs. Hopewell remains clueless, dismissing the remark as one of the “strange things” Hulga usually said (O’Connor 4). ...read more.

Conclusion

She surrenders her artificial leg, something that she ?took care of [as] someone else would his soul,? to him, eventually falling for him to the point where she was thinking that she would ?run away with him? (O?Connor 12). Irony is displayed as the boy whom she had called a ?baby? is now conning her and exposing her own immaturity and vulnerability. The boy she had mocked for his stupidity is now making a fool out of her, and this is a blow to Hulga?s ego. Manly humbles Hulga with his scheme, and also shames her for her past narcissism as he informs her that ?[he is] as good as [her] any day of the week? (O?Connor 13) Hulga is now left without her leg or her eyeglasses, vulnerable and helpless, contrary to the independence and rebelliousness she had shown earlier in the story. The reality of her vulnerability and insecurity due to her leg which she had tried to hide with her arrogance and knowledge is uncovered. The characters in the story display the lack of awareness towards their true selves, creating an idealized image of themselves and tenaciously believing it, causing them to become arrogant. ...read more.

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