Flannery O'Connor's Stories

Hulga Hopewell as an Example of Freakishness in Southern Gothic Literature College

One of the most prominent and important features of Southern Gothic literature is its incorporation of a character that is a “freak” into the narrative, with this freak being someone who stands out due to a disability that is external, internal, or sometimes both. Southern Gothic writer Flannery O’Connor displays mastery of the subject not only by creating freakish characters, but also by turning her stories into the freak shows that partially characterize our conceptions of the American South. Hulga Hopewell of O’Connor’s short story Good Country People exemplifies this method of storytelling, as she provides not only the character of the freak but also the situation with which the audience can feel the atmosphere of a freak show.

O’Connor believes that writers of Southern Gothic literature have a penchant for writing about freaks because “[they] are still able to recognize one”, a notion which entails the author having a conception of “the whole man”(44). Thus, the freak serves for the reader a comparison of their “completeness” and the character’s “incompleteness”. Her suggestion that freakishness is synonymous with incompletion correlates with Hulga, whose leg was shot off in a hunting accident as a child. The narrator...

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