Catholic Social Science Review

Volume 22, 2017

Jerome C. Foss
Pages 237-247

The Contemplative Mentality in Flannery O’Connor’s “Good Country People”

Flannery O’Connor’s “Good Country People” offers readers a chance to better understand the shortcomings of modern political theory. The story makes explicit references to the modern thinkers Malebranche and Heidegger, both of whom sever philosophy from sensual reality. Hulga embraces these thinkers’ approach, but is unprepared for the con artist, Manly Pointer. Mrs. Hopewell accepts the ideas of early modernity without question, and is likewise deceived by Pointer. Mrs. Freeman, who relies on her senses, immediately recognizes deception. The story reflects O’Connor’s preference for a Thomistic approach to political thought that honors the senses and cultivates contemplative habits.