Gullibility Hypocrisy In Flannery OConnorss “The Life You Save May Be Your Own,” “Good Country People,” and “A Good Man Is Hard To Find,” she explores the consequences of the combination of hypocrisy, gullibility in social contacts, and the role of being raised at mothers knee. Reared a strict Roman Catholic and writing in the Bible Belt South OConnor encountered those character flaws first hand. The repetitive hypocrisy displayed in these three short stories is portrayed by only the men suggesting that OConnor has certain issues with men. Tom Shiftlet in “The Life You Save May be Your Own,” wearing his black town suit and brown hat met these two women, Lucynell Crater Sr. and her daughter Lucynell Jr. OConnor depicted him as “a tramp and no one to be afraid of,” but in reality he is a man who makes and breaks his claims and it the process blemishing his companys spirit.
When he claims, “I cant get married right now,” and later the trio goes into town to marry Mr. Shiflet and Lucynell Jr. is exactly the aim OConnor wants to get across, hypocritical men. One may accidentally utter one statement and then act on the contrary, but in this short story Mr. Shiflet makes many remarks on his beliefs and almost opposing every one.
One may inherit the impression that he is quite foolish by all of his self-righteous talk when he says people lie too much and later telling the youth she was a hitchhiker. On his way to Tuscaloosa he picks up a boy who only spoke telling him, “You go to the devil!” Both the boy and Lucynell Jr. represent innocence in this story and that opens Mr. Shiflets numb mind forcing him to change his perspective. Similar to Mr.
Shiflet, yet not as repetitive as his hypocritical ways, the Bible salesman in “Good Country People,” says “I may sell bibles but I know which end is up.” This young mans purpose in the beginning of the story is to sell a bible to a woman who refuses to buy one and later to the daughter. A blatant example of his inherit hypocrisy is also seen by Hulga when she says: “Youre just like them all say one thing and do another. Youre a perfect Christian, youre..” OConnor outright expresses what she feels in all three of these short stories in that brief comment. With men being hypocrites and women being gullible, OConnor shows how well the two mix with each other. When Mr.
Shiflet and Lucynell Sr. first meet he comments: “How you know I aint Aaron Sparks, lady, and I come from Singleberry, Georgia, or how you know its not George speeds and I come from Lucy, Alabama, or how you know I aint Thompson Bright from Toolafalls, Mississippi.” This is suggesting to the reader he actually could say any of them or any other far-fetched information and the Lucynell Sr. would most likely believe it. OConnor is portraying how the women of the South do not have a mind of their own, but a universal southern mind in which does not protest or contradict anyone, but rather being close minded to the reality of the world that people lie. Just after meeting with the visitor Lucynell Sr.
allows Mr. Shiflet to sleep in a car and fix miscellaneous items in exchange for meals. This is a very assertive action she takes, but since she believes him to be a harmless man she would never expect the proceeding events. Paralleling with “Good Country People,” OConnor portrays the Freemans in the same situation as the Carters. Mrs.
Freeman being approached by a persistent bible salesman is forced to make a decision and when he says “Im just a country boy,” she immediately turns into a helpless pawn under his control. After he interjects that comment she now trusts him and this is when OConnor represents the times women are most vulnerable to gullibility. A short while after Hulga has got to know the bible salesman she realizes that all of these die-hard “Chrustians” are all hypocrites and is the only one throughout the three stories who has this insight. Another common thread between the these short stories by OConnor is they all depict the man in the story as being “raised at mothers knee.” Meaning that they sat on their mothers knee while she read them the bible and greatly pampered them. Mr.
Shiftlets opinion on his mother is: “She taught him his first prayers at her knee, she give him love when no other would, she told him what was right and what wasnt, and she seen that he done the right thing.” OConnor stresses the tidbit of information on the background of these men whom were raised at their mothers knee in all three stories, suggesting a stereotype of this type of man. Through OConnors writings it is very apparent that she has issues with the men in her life and in turn affects general men that were raised at their mothers knee being read the bible as hypocrites and the women who encounter these men as gullible. She shows how this combination of hypocrisy and gullibility can affect the most average of southern families.