Irony in O’Connor

Flannery O’Connor uses irony in "Good Country People" to give the reader a better sense of
what she is trying to communicate to the reader, and show the meaning of her characters and their
actions. There are several ironies in the story that the reader can see in there first reading, but
there are several that need more attention. The first is Hulga’s mother and people around them.

The second example is the Bible salesman, and the way he fools everyone but Mrs. Hopewell. The
last is the main character Hulga whose personality is an irony in itself. All three of these give
different examples of irony, that leaves the reader wondering about O’Connor’s cleverness in

The first ironies involves Hulgas mother and the people she talks about. Mrs. Hopewell
says that Mrs. Freeman is a person who never admits she was wrong and that she is into
everyone’s business. She then says Mrs. Freeman is a lady. Another example is when she
describes Mrs. Freeman’s daughters Glynese and Carramae, "as the finest girls she ever
knew"(393) immediately after the reader learns that Carramae is only fifteen and already pregnant
and married, and Glynese was eighteen but already had many admirers.

The second source of irony is in the Bible salesman and the fact that he turns out to not be
such a good country person. He appears to be a simple boy spreading the word of God through
the world with the little time he has, due to the ailment suspiciously similar to the what Hulga is
supposedly dying of. His whole character is an irony. He says he is a Bible salesman but, in fact, is
not even a Christian. The bible he carries around, has two sides like its owner. On its outside, it
seems to be a good old bible, but when it is opened the reader finds alcohol, playing cards, and
other objects that show the salesman’s true character. Another irony is the way the salesman fools

Hulga into thinking he is not very bright and then he turns around and tricks her into giving him
her false leg.

The last example is the main character Hulga. The first irony in Hulga is the fact that she
has an exceptional education, but she is still fooled by the simple Bible salesman. She also has an
irony similar to the Bible-Salesman. Hulga is a tough, educated, invulnerable woman with her leg
on, but as soon as she takes it off, she reverts to Joy who is still a vulnerable little girl. Another
irony is that she is mean to all who are nice to her and she is nice to the one person who is cruel to
her, and shows her no compassion.

All of these examples of irony show O’Connor’s cleverness. They also show the different
aspects, which makes the reader think and contemplate deeper into the meaning of O’Connor’s
words. "Good Country People" is just one example of how irony is used by one author, after
someone reads a story like this, one should be more aware of ironies in Literature