Good Country People

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Mrs. Freeman is Mrs. Hopewell’s tenant and employee, largely in charge of running the farm. She is described as efficient and like a machine, so focused on everything being just right that her previous employer warned Mrs. Hopewell of her nosiness. Mrs. Hopewell puts this to her advantage, reasoning that if Mrs. Freeman wants to be in charge of everything, then let her. Mrs. Freeman often gossips with Mrs. Hopewell about superficial things, or about her daughters, Carramae and Glynese Freeman. These conversations involve frequent use of platitudes and clichés, with Mrs. Freeman typically agreeing with whatever her employer says. When interacting with Hulga, Mrs. Freeman shows an interest in Hulga’s artificial leg, asking repeatedly for details about how the accident happened. Mrs. Freeman thinks of herself as more in touch with reality than Mrs. Hopewell, as being superior in her own way. But the events of the story shows that she isn’t: at the story’s end, Mrs. Freeman watches the Bible Salesman walk out of the woods, and, not realizing what has transpired between the Bible Salesman and Hulga, reflects that, “Some can’t be that simple…I know I never could.”

Mrs. Freeman Quotes in Good Country People

The Good Country People quotes below are all either spoken by Mrs. Freeman or refer to Mrs. Freeman. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Class, Identity, and Superiority Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Farrar, Strauss and Giroux edition of Good Country People published in 1971.
Good Country People Quotes

By the time Joy came in, they had usually finished the weather report and were on one or the other of Mrs. Freeman’s daughters, Glynese or Carramae, Joy called them Glycerin and Caramel.

Related Characters: Hulga Hopewell (Joy), Mrs. Hopewell, Mrs. Freeman, Carramae and Glynese Freeman –
Page Number: 272
Explanation and Analysis:

These women believe themselves to be good, moral people who are better than everyone else. However, Mrs. Hopewell and Mrs. Freeman are constantly gossiping about others, which is not a pastime considered virtuous or industrious. Mrs. Hopewell, who has the greater social status, further believes herself to be kind and discerning because of her treatment of Mrs. Freeman. Her willingness to spend time with someone lower class, her identification of Mrs. Freeman as "good country people" rather than "trash," and her ability to make good use of Mrs. Freeman's nosiness all inflate Mrs. Hopewell's already large ego. However, when we see the two women together it is clear that they have similar interests and personalities, and neither one of them is better or smarter than the other. This passage is also an indication of Joy (Hulga)'s bitterness and cynicism. Joy mocks the names of Mrs. Freeman's daughters, who are pretty and successful in love, for seemingly no reason. This hints at Joy's own vulnerability and the pain of her loneliness. While she believes that she is being honest and intelligent by seeing through the hypocrisy and artifice of others, she actually cuts others down partly out of insecurity.

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The reason for her keeping them so long was that they were not trash. They were good country people.

Related Characters: Mrs. Hopewell, Mrs. Freeman
Page Number: 272
Explanation and Analysis:

Mrs. Hopewell is constantly patting herself on the back for her kindness in employing Mrs. Freeman. She believes that this reflects well on her since she, as a wise person of high status, has had the kindness and good sense to hire someone who is what she believes to be the good kind of poor ("good country people") rather than the bad kind ("trash"). This shows just how central social class is to Mrs. Hopewell's worldview. Instead of seeing Mrs. Freeman as simply a good or bad person, she sees her as a poor person first and approves of her in a condescending way that implies that she is respectable and simple rather than just good. This is also ironic, since Mrs. Freeman is not a particularly good person, and she is no more "simple" than Mrs. Hopewell herself. Mrs. Hopewell's obsession with social class, then, has blinded her to the realities of the world around her that should have been obvious.

“Lord,” she said, “he bored me to death but he was so sincere and genuine I couldn’t be rude to him. He was just good country people, you know,” she said, “—just the salt of the earth.”

Related Characters: Mrs. Hopewell (speaker), Mrs. Freeman, The Bible Salesman
Page Number: 282
Explanation and Analysis:

In this quote, Mrs. Hopewell is condescending and hypocritical. While she admits that she found the Bible salesman boring, she could not be rude to him to his face, though she is perfectly willing to insult him behind his back. This shows that her dinner invitation to him was not real kindness, but rather hewing to the social expectations for what a "good" person looks like. She is also, once again, making the condescending distinction between "good country people" and "trash." Because the boy seemed polite and Christian, Mrs. Hopewell assumes that he is a simple and good person, albeit one who is below her. In fact, the boy is manipulating her for his own perverse intentions, but she is so beholden to her own stereotypes and so enamored with her own wisdom and judgment that she remains blind to the reality of the situation. 

“Why, that looks like that nice dull young man that tried to sell me a Bible yesterday,” Mrs. Hopewell said, squinting. “He must have been selling them to the Negroes back there. He was so simple,” she said, “but I guess the world would be better off if we were all that simple.”

Related Characters: Mrs. Hopewell (speaker), Mrs. Freeman, The Bible Salesman
Page Number: 291
Explanation and Analysis:

O'Connor ends the story with a crushing display of condescension and irony from Hulga's mother. After she sees the Bible salesman walking through the field with his valise (which, unbeknownst to her, contains her daughter's artificial leg), she belittles the man's intelligence while appearing to make a kind and wise statement about the goodness of simple poor people. Her vague and sentimental statement that "I guess the world would be better off if we were all that simple" provides a deep irony; in this scenario, Mrs. Hopewell, who has never once suspected that the salesman is not who he appears to be, is actually the simple one, and the world is certainly not better off for her blindness.

This closing scene of self-congratulatory and deluded superiority by Mrs. Hopewell and Mrs. Freeman moves the reader from one dark scenario to another. Hulga has been deeply betrayed, but her betrayal came only after her experience of grace and connection. O'Connor forces the reader to consider that perhaps Mrs. Hopewell and Mrs. Freeman are not any better off than Hulga, though, as they have experienced neither open betrayal nor transformative grace, and, as such, they are left sitting on the porch still engaging in petty conversations about the people around them.

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Mrs. Freeman Character Timeline in Good Country People

The timeline below shows where the character Mrs. Freeman appears in Good Country People. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Good Country People
Hypocrisy Theme Icon
The story begins with a description of Mrs. Freeman , a woman working on a farm in rural Georgia. She is described as having... (full context)
Disease and Disability Theme Icon
The story’s action begins at breakfast. Mrs. Hopewell, who owns the farm and employs Mrs. Freeman , begins the morning routine: she lights the gas heaters, and then her daughter goes... (full context)
Appearances and Realities Theme Icon
Hypocrisy Theme Icon
Hulga stays in the bathroom until Mrs. Freeman has arrived, and her small talk with Mrs. Hopewell is almost done. Mrs. Hopewell and... (full context)
Class, Identity, and Superiority Theme Icon
Hypocrisy Theme Icon
Mrs. Hopewell is proud to introduce Mrs. Freeman , Carramae, and Glynese around town. When she had been looking for a new tenant... (full context)
Appearances and Realities Theme Icon
Hypocrisy Theme Icon
Mrs. Hopewell comments on how helpful Mrs. Freeman has been, and Mrs. Freeman agrees. No matter what Mrs. Hopewell says, Mrs. Freeman agrees... (full context)
Class, Identity, and Superiority Theme Icon
Appearances and Realities Theme Icon
Disease and Disability Theme Icon
Before the Freemans moved in, Mrs. Hopewell had a new family living on her property each year. Now... (full context)
Appearances and Realities Theme Icon
Disease and Disability Theme Icon
Hypocrisy Theme Icon
When Mrs. Freeman began to call Hulga by her new name, at first Hulga was angry. She does... (full context)
Class, Identity, and Superiority Theme Icon
Back at breakfast, Mrs. Freeman notes that her fifteen-year-old daughter, Carramae, who is married and pregnant, has been vomiting. Watching... (full context)
Class, Identity, and Superiority Theme Icon
Appearances and Realities Theme Icon
Back in the present, Saturday morning, Mrs. Freeman now recounts the romantic success of her daughter, Glynese. Hulga joins in, hoping to keep... (full context)
Class, Identity, and Superiority Theme Icon
Appearances and Realities Theme Icon
Hypocrisy Theme Icon
Mrs. Hopewell and Mrs. Freeman , busy working, watch the Bible Salesman walk from the woods toward the highway. Mrs.... (full context)