In O’Conner’s “Good Country People” how are the characters’ names significant? Is there any symbolism in them? Also, the
term “good country people” is thrown around a lot in the story – what does it mean? Do different characters have different definitions.
“GOOD COUNTRY PEOPLE”
O’ Connors story “Good country people” portrays a strong young woman Hulga who is educated, but eventually is destroyed by the evil personification from her beliefs about the world. She holds a doctorate in philosophy but is forced to stay at home with her mother because of her heart condition. Her mother, Mrs. Hopewell named her Joy when she was young, but after an accident that made her disabled, she changed her name to Hulga, which means ugly. She argued that she didn’t deserve to be called Joy after the tragedy ripped off her hope and joy. She prefers to be called Hulga because she is disabled and looking ugly. Mrs. Freeman is a poor tenant farmer assisting Mrs. Hopewell in the house.
The significance of the characters’ names.
The character names in the story are significant; O’Connor uses unique names that describe their lives and nature. Hulga has a negative characterization and believes that life is not important. Her name suggests ugliness and hate. She is very rude to Mrs. Freeman and has no respect to her mother. Mrs. Hopewell, Hulgas’ mother is described as a woman who is not able to do anything but hope that all well be well. She entrusts every chores in her house to Mrs. Freeman. On the other hand, the name Freeman portrays there family status as being free and poor people..
O’Connor used ideas, actions and objects that explain and represent scenes that have been used in the story. Examples of symbols used in the story include; Hulgas’ leg represents her soul, she takes care of it because it is the most important thing in her life. Good country people have been referred to as the salts of the world; this explains the importance of morality and simplicity which are valuable in life. Another example of symbolism used in the story is where the gate has been used as a boundary between Hulga’s world and the real world.
Good country people
Mrs. Hopewell described Manley as a good country person, she also perceives Mrs. Freeman as a good country person. The humble, honest, and simple people from the country are called good people. Manley seemed to lead a moral and Christian life when she approached the Hopeful’s family, by selling bibles and describing himself as poor and from the country. Mrs. Freeman is humble and a tenant farmer who came from the country to be a farm worker. The perception that country people are good is misleading, as portrayed by Manley who claimed to be a bible seller but eventually destroyed Hulgas’ life.
The characters in the story have traits that are reflected in their actions. Their characterization is defined by there nature. O’Connor describes Hulga as a pessimist; she believes her life has no purpose in the world because she is disabled. Manley is the main traitor and hypocrite in the story, he disguise himself as a Christian but destroys Hulga’s life. Mrs. Hopewell is described as a lazy woman, who cannot do anything in the house, while Mrs. Freeman is a hardworking woman; it is evident by how she performs her duties in the house.
Flannery, O’Connor. “Good Country People “. 1964 http://www.geocities.com/cyber_explorer99/oconnorgoodcountry.html. web.sep 22. 2012