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Strengths and Weaknesses of Kate Oliver’s Analysis of “Good Country People” Essay

Kate Oliver’s analysis of Flannery O’Connor’s “Good Country People” claims that Joy-Hulga’s physical symbolizes her emotional impairments. By going into detail of the context of O’Connor’s original short story, Kate Oliver is able to make an overall moderately strong argument of how she feels she is correct in her analysis. Oliver is able to make a strong argument when she writes about Joy-Hulga’s emotional detachment and artificial beliefs, yet could have went into more details instead of being so vague with her examples and correlations when it came to show how she was blind to reality.

O’Connor’s original short story takes place on a Southern farm in the mid 1950’s. This was a time when Christianity was a strong belief in the South and when people were more trusting in each other. Oliver makes a point to show how Joy-Hulga’s physical impairments symbolize her clear internal lacks when it comes to emotion, reality, and beliefs. Oliver argues that Joy-Hulga’s weak heart is meant to symbolize her emotional detachment, her eyeglasses show how she is blind to reality, and her artificial leg symbolizes her artificial beliefs. Each one of her physical impairments is met with a deeper emotional impairment.

Oliver believes that Joy-Hulga’s weak heart symbolizes her emotional absence when it comes to loving others. She was able to make a strong argument out of this by elaborating on Joy-Hulga’s philosophy degree, her lack of friends, and her nonexistent relationship with her mother. By Oliver stating “However her weak heart symbolizes her emotional detachment – an inability to love anyone or anything” (234), this shows her main point of her whole argument in this section of her analysis. O’Connor then correlates to this in her article by her use of “she didn’t like dogs or cats or birds or flowers or nature or nice young men” (3). This supports the fact that Joy-Hulga really just doesn’t have any love or emotion towards any other living things. Kate Oliver was able to make her argument about this part of the story very strong due to the fact of the direct interrelation between her analysis and the facts that are shown in O’Connor’s original short story.

Another point Oliver makes is how Joy-Hulga’s artificial leg symbolizes her artificial beliefs, or better yet how her having no real leg shows how she has no beliefs. The author is able to further make this point by stating, “Religion would have provided Joy-Hulga with spiritual and emotional support, a so-called real leg on which to rebuild her life. Instead, Joy-Hulga revels in her rejection of God” (Oliver 236). This is strengthened by many excerpts from O’Connor’s original short story including, “My daughter is an atheist and won’t let me keep the Bible in the parlor” (4). This quote is able to further support Oliver’s claim with Joy-Hulga not having any real beliefs and rejecting the thought of a higher power. Kate Oliver was able to show how her assumptions were justified in her analysis by directly relating many of her points to O’Connor’s original short story, where it is clearly shown that she has no religious beliefs.

Lastly, Oliver writes about how Joy-Hulga’s eyeglasses show how she is blind to reality. Oliver is going in the right direction with this claim, yet could have made a much stronger argument with it had she gone into more detail with how she was. Oliver stated, “But she is blind to reality, having knowledge only of books and abstract ideas, rather than of people and concrete objects” (234). Oliver’s claim does correlate with O’Connor’s original story, yet she could have shown a lot more elements of how she was blind to reality by elaborating more on the conversations Joy-Hulga had with her mother and Manley Pointer, and with how Joy-Hulga was perceived/acted in the original story. O’Connor’s original short story read, “with the look of someone who had achieved blindness by an act of will and means to keep it” (1), although this quote does support Oliver’s claim about Joy-Hulga being blind to reality, it shows it in more of a complex sense in which Oliver didn’t. Oliver’s argument was overall weak in this part of her article, but with a little more detail and reference to the original short story it could have been a very strong and secure argument.

Overall Kate Oliver was able to make fairly strong point with her article through her use of examples and by relating Joy-Hulga’s internal and external problems to one another. If she was able to correlate more of the details from O’Connor’s original short story, Oliver could have turned her fairly strong point into a very strong point with her analysis of “Good Country People.” Although Oliver did have one weak point in her article when she talks about Joy-Hulga’s blindness to reality, she was able to more than make up for it with her details and examples when she wrote about her emotional detachment and her artificial beliefs.

Works Cited

O’Connor, Flannery. “Good Country People.” ENGL 1101.Course D2L Page. East Georgia State College, Fall 2013. PDF file. 21 Oct. 2013.

Oliver, Kate. “O’Connor’s Good Country People.” Explicator 62.4 (2004): 233-236
Literary Reference Center. Web. 11 September 2013

Writing the Article Analysis Essay

Once you have completed the “Article Analysis Worksheet” and have read the “Sample Article Analysis,” you may find it useful to write your own outline before you begin your essay. Outlining the essay will ensure that the essay is well-structured and that you have enough evidence to support your claims. Fill out the Outline below before you begin writing your rough draft (the information for each section should be based on the “Suggested Article Analysis Outline” above.

I. Introduction
a. Kate Oliver’s analysis of Flannery O’Connor’s “Good Country People” claims that Joy-Hulga’s physical defects are a symbolization of her emotional impairments.
b. By going into detail of the context of O’Connor’s original short story, Kate Oliver is able to make an overall moderately strong argument of how she feels she is correct in her analysis.
c. Oliver is able to make a very strong argument when she writes about her emotional detachment and artificial beliefs, yet could have went into more detail and shown more examples when it came to show how she was blind to reality.

II. Background Information and Presentation Article’s Evidence (present evidence objectively; note: be sure to repeatedly name the author of the article so that it is clear that these ideas belong to the original author) a. In O’Connor’s original short story takes place on a Southern farm in the mid 1950’s. This was a time when Christianity was a strong belief in the South and when people were more trusting in each other. b. Oliver makes a point to show how Joy-Hulga’s physical impairments symbolize her clear internal lacks when it comes to emotion, reality, and beliefs. c. Joy-Hulga’s weak heart is meant to symbolize her emotional detachment, her eyeglasses show how she is blind to reality, and her artificial leg symbolizes her artificial beliefs.

III. Analysis of Evidence
1. (subjective analysis begins here)
a. Oliver believes that Joy-Hulga’s weak heart symbolizes her emotional lacks when it comes to loving others.
b. She uses evidence from O’Connor’s original story (in the quote below) to correlate to her claim.
c. “However her weak heart symbolizes her emotional detachment – an inability to love anyone or anything” (234)
d. She was able to make a strong argument out of this by elaborating on Joy-Hulga’s philosophy degree, her lack of friends, and her nonexistent relationship with her mother.
e. “she didn’t like dogs or cats or birds or flowers or nature or nice young men.”
f. This supports the fact that Joy-Hulga really just doesn’t have any lover for any living creatures.
g. She was able to make a strong argument by directly relating her claim to O’Connor’s story.

IV. Analysis of Evidence 2
a. Another point Oliver makes is how Joy-Hulga’s artificial leg symbolizes her artificial beliefs, or better yet how her having no real leg shows how she has no beliefs.
b. Her evidence is strong in her analysis.
c. “Religion would have provided Joy-Hulga with spiritual and emotional support, a so-called real leg on which to rebuild her life. Instead, Joy-Hulga revels in her rejection of God” (236).
d. This evidence is strong because it does clearly state in O’Connor’s original story that Hulga has no type of religion. So her lack of a leg can be directed to her lack of
religion.
e. “My daughter is an atheist and won’t let me keep the Bible in the parlor” (4)
f. This quote supports Oliver’s claim because it also states that Joy-Hulga clearly has no type of religion.
g. Kate Oliver was able to put more meaning in her analysis by directly relating it to O’Connor’s original story.

V. Analysis of Evidence 3
a. Lastly, Oliver writes about how Joy-Hulga’s eyeglasses show how she is blind to reality.
b. Oliver is going in the right direction with this claim, yet could have made a much stronger argument with it had she gone into more detail.
c. “But she is blind to reality, having knowledge only of books and abstract ideas, rather than of people and concrete objects” (234).
d. Oliver claim does correlate with O’Connor’s original story, yet she could have went into a lot more detail with how she was blind to reality by elaborating more on the conversations Joy-Hulga had with her mother and Manley.
e. “with the look of someone who had achieved blindness by an act of will and means to keep it”(1).
f. Although this quote does support Oliver’s claim about Joy-Hulga being blind to reality, it shows it in more of a complex sense in which Oliver didn’t.
g. Oliver’s argument was overall weak in this part of her article, but with a little more detail it could have been a very strong argument.

VI. Conclusion
a. Overall Kate Oliver was able to make fairly strong point with her article through her use of examples and by relating Joy-Hulga’s internal and external problems to one another.
b. If she was able to correlate more of the details from O’Connor’s original short story, Oliver could have turned her fairly strong point into a very strong point with her analysis of “Good Country People.”
c. Oliver was able to make a very strong argument when she wrote about her emotional detachment and artificial beliefs, yet could have went into more detail and shown more examples when it came to show how she was blind to reality.

Active Reading Worksheet: Article Analysis
Title of primary source (short story): Flannery O’Connor: Good Country People
Title of article: O’Connor’s Good Country People
Article Author: Kate Oliver
Article Place & date of publication: Explicator 62.4 (2004)

Part 1: Understanding the primary source

List the major characters:
Protagonist(s): Joy-Hulga
Antagonist(s): Manley Pointer

What is the social or historical context of the story (in other words, what “real world” issues is Flannery O’Connor responding to)? It takes place on a southern farm in the mid 1950s whenever Christianity was big and when people were trusting in each other.

List the conflicts in this story (internal and/or external): Joy has many internal conflicts having to do with her faith, blindness to reality, and her view of nothingness in the world. Some external conflicts are her and her mother’s relationship, and her trusting in Manley Pointer yet him leaving her legless and visionless in the barn.

What is the climax of the story? (note: the climax is the most exciting and emotional point of a story; it usually occurs near the end) The climax to the story is whenever Manley and Joy were in the barn and he takes her fake leg and glasses.

What happens during the resolution of the story?

Joy is left in the barn with literally nothing; no leg and no glasses. Her emotional nothingness is matched with actual physical nothingness.

How are the conflict, climax and resolution related to the story’s historical or social context? It shows that Manley wasn’t a “good Christian boy” and that people couldn’t always be trusted.

Part 2: Evaluating the Article

What is the writer’s main point/thesis about the story?
Olivers main point was showing how Joy’s physical impairments symbolized her emotional impairments.

List at least three specific examples that the writer uses to support her or his main point.

1) How her weak heart symbolizes her emotional detachment.

2) How her eyeglasses show how she is blind to reality.

3) How her artificial leg symbolizes artificial beliefs.

Are the writer’s ideas about the short story consistent with your own? Explain. I do believe that Oliver did have a very strong argument in regarding how each of her physical defects were matched with an emotional defect, by going into detail she was able to make a very strong argument of how.

What information do you have that challenges the author’s argument? Does he/she accurately reflect the content of the literary text being analyzed? If not, please explain. Oliver does reflect the content of the literary text, she uses only things in her theory that are explicitly stated in the original story.

Does the article introduce any opposing viewpoints? If so, which ones? If not, what refutation may be possible for their argument? It doesn’t show any opposing viewpoints, but she could have went into more detail with her examples whenever it came to how Joy was blind to reality, and she could have correlated it more to O’Connor’s original short story.

In the space below, write a thesis statement for an analysis of the article. Your thesis statement should include an EVALUATION of the article, as well as a clear sense of the DIRECTION your essay will take. Oliver is able to make a strong argument when she writes about Joy-Hulga’s emotional detachment and artificial beliefs, yet could have went into more details instead of being so vague with her examples and correlations when it came to show how she was blind to reality.


Essay Topics:


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