While the manner in which story-tellers narrate their tales may depend on the story being told and the mind-frame of the audience, some rules are universal. Many writers choose to demarcate the good and the evil clearly even at the beginning of their narratives, whereas some others employ techniques like irony, shock, symbolism to ultimately distinguish between the two. They do this in order to heighten the interest of the audience, or just to make it a little awesome. The techniques ensure that the message in the narrative is easily remembered, because the surprise elements that lie hidden in the story and are unknown to the audience. The surprises leave the audience shocked and the story memorable.
The American writer and novelist Flannery O'Connor (1925-64), is a case in the point. She states that "In good fiction, certain of the details will tend to accumulate meaning from the action of the story itself, and when this happens they become symbolic in the way they work" (O'Connor cited in Notes on O'Connor). Her deep rooted Catholic faith often finds expression in her stories set in the predominantly protestant southern states and Gothic style of writing (Galloway 1). O'Connor in her short story Good Country People illustrates an atheist character Hulga Hopewell in stark contrast to the background of Mrs. Hopewell (the faithful) household. The character of Manley Pointer - the Christian Bible-seller, is also skillfully employed by the author. This essay shall analyze the work Good Country People, and try to understand how O'Connor uses irony and symbolism to expose the falsities of the pseudo-intellectuals, who believe in and support atheism. It shall study the two central characters Joy Hulga Hopewell and characters and Manley Pointer, and argue that the author has deliberately designed her central characters as nihilists (Colas 1). By the use of irony, [making Hulga Hopewell, (outwardly non-believing but, actually believing in Christian values), fall into ruin in the end in the hands of a Christian Bible-seller (who is actually an atheist)] O'Connor has accurately driven home the dangers of atheism, non-spiritual ideologies, and the chaos they can cause by camouflaging themselves as Christians. By effective use of the above techniques, she warns her readers of the wretchedness, deceit, and chaos that atheism and non-Christian values can bring about.
Symbolism - A Technique
Lucretia B. Yaghjian notes that, "While O'Connor's view of symbol as a religious category was that of a Tridentine, doctrinally orthodox Roman Catholic who subordinated the religiously symbolic to the ultimately "real," her