Study Guide

Good Country People

By Flannery O'Connor

Good Country People Introduction

Question: Does your mother drive you nuts? Then there's something for you in these short pages. Do you ever wish you could just pack your bags and get the heck out of Dodge? Hulga, our main girl in this story, certainly does. Have you ever tricked someone else out of their fake eye? No? Good on ya. But if you're curious about just who the heck would do such a thing, well, then definitely pick up "Good Country People." It may be short—and O'Connor may have practically thrown it on the page—but it packs a serious punch.

"Good Country People" is a classic short story by American author Flannery O'Connor. It was first published in June of 1955 in two places: Harper's Bazaar, and O'Connor's second book, A Good Man is Hard to Find and Other Stories. O'Connor often spent months—even years—revising her stories. Perfectionist much? But get this: She wrote "Good Country People" in only four days, and hardly revised it at all. Not only that, but plenty of folks thought it was her best story yet when they read it (source). In other words, O'Connor for the win, Shmoopers.

What is Good Country People About and Why Should I Care?

Raise your hand if you've ever thought you could see right through someone else. You know, like you just totally have their number, so much so that you hardly even need to bother to get to know them.

Now raise your hand if, upon spending a bit of time with this person, you've been really surprised when they turn out to be completely different from what you thought.

Yeah, we thought we'd see some hands.

Shocking wasn't it? This exact scenario is at the heart of "Good Country People," but whether you've experienced something similar or not, O'Connor's exploration of it is so rich—and so layered with meaning and different ways to interpret it—that you can pretty much decide for yourself how the book ends. It's like a choose-your-own-adventure with way less annoying flipping through the pages. And that's right up everyone's ally, whether you make snap judgments or not.

Good Country People Resources

Websites

The Flannery O'Connor Collection
This site is packed with great material for that stellar paper you'll be writing.

Southern Tenant Farmer's Museum
A good place to begin your research on tenant farming.

The Flannery O'Connor Award for Short Fiction
Written any good stories lately? If so, maybe you should submit them to this contest.

Andalusia Farm Website
This was O'Connor's home, which is now open for tours.

The Flannery O'Connor Childhood Home Foundation
The O'Connor family lived here from 1925 (when O'Connor was born) to 1938.

Movie or TV Productions

A Film Adaptation
Watch Manley and Hulga together in this black and white film.

Articles and Interviews

A Biography
She died young, but she sure has a lot to show for her time amongst the living.

"In Search of Flannery O'Connor"
One writer's journey through "Flannery O'Connor's Georgia."

"Letters of Flannery O'Connor"
An article about O'Connor's letters, from Time Magazine.

Video

Bonus Lecture Time
Enjoy this talk on "Good Country People" done by a woman whose entire scholarly focus is O'Connor's work.

Audio

"A Good Man is Hard to Find"
Let O'Connor read one of her most famous short stories to you herself.

An Audio Slide Show
Nice pictures and audio commentary.

Images

A Book Cover
Yellow like Manley's socks.

Another Book Cover
We love this cover of A Good Man is Hard to Find and Other Stories, the collection that houses "Good Country People."

Peacocks!
A very cool shot of O'Connor, looking elegant… with a couple of her peacocks.

A Slide Show
Tons of photos of Andalusia Farm, O'Connor's home.