Monday, 12 December 2011

Good Country People by Flannery O'Connor

As a rest and a relief from John Cowper Powys I am reading in Flannery O'Connor's Complete Stories. With her you will never know how consciousness is to be distributed but it may switch from soul to soul like a vile oppressing spirit that produces the grim atrabiliousness that breaks out as laughter. Good Country People has that constellation of which O'Connor is particularly fond, Mother, intellectual child with solipsistic tendencies and a stranger that is passing strange. Just when you think Hulga is about to discover her misplaced Joy she loses something other than she had perhaps hoped for. Mother is generally a put upon creature of determined good will. The vast country cunning of Mrs. Freeman who must match each affront to flesh is pitted against Mrs. Hopewell her employer. Her various stands in the kitchen; against the gas heater in the winter, in the doorway in the summer, at the refrigerator: are perfectly noted. This brooding and capping ubiquity - 'I always said it did myself':

All this was very trying on Mrs.Hopewell but she was a woman of great patience.

The bible salesman, a collector of curiosities, a wandering nihilist who passes for good country people entices Hulga who herself affects a belief in Nothing. Her Phd. in Philosophy is not a match for his powers of abstraction.

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