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Good Country People

By:   •  August 11, 2014  •  Essay  •  929 Words (4 Pages)  •  1,940 Views

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Good Country People or Not?

"Good Country People" is a short story written by Flannery O'Connor in 1955. In this story, O'Connor uses symbolism in her choice of names, which centers on the personality and demeanor of four characters. Each of these characters has a uniquely tailored name. The significance of their names is that they do not symbolize their true character. Throughout the story, these characters demonstrate flaws in their personalities that are distinctive with their names. Freeman, Hopewell, Hulga, and Manley Pointer are names that describe who these characters believe they are, but in reality they have completely different personalities than their names imply.

The story begins with Mrs. Freeman, who is not so free. Mrs. Freeman (free man) has been a tenant farmer for Mrs. Hopewell for the past four years and other property owners before that. Because Mrs. Freeman is a hired hand and farms for someone else, she cannot consider herself a "free man." Mrs. Hopewell tells Mrs. Freeman after she has been on the farm for a while, "You know, you're the wheel behind the wheel" (1633). Mrs. Hopewell is implying that Mrs. Freeman is not as free as she would hope to be but is dependent on someone else. Freeman is the name given to a freed slave, but Mrs. Freeman is a white tenet farmer tied to the land and not a freed black slave as the name implies. Mrs. Freeman also has two daughters still living at home who are dependent on her: "an eighteen year old daughter, Glynese, and a married fifteen year old daughter, Carramae, who is pregnant" (1632). One of Mrs. Freeman's favorite phrases that she uses after comments by Mrs. Hopewell is "I always said so myself" (1633), almost as if she is trying to fill Mrs. Hopewell's shoes.

Mrs. Hopewell (hope well) is the hopeful and well-to-do mother of Hulga and landowner to Mrs. Freeman. Mrs. Hopewell has a niche for dismissing character flaws, especially her own. Mrs. Hopewell has certain sayings that she is constantly using such as "Everybody is different" (1633) and "That's life" (1637). Although Mrs. Hopewell believes that these sayings provide hope, they are actually just empty phrases and do not provide hope as her name sake suggests. Mrs. Hopewell also hopes that her daughter Hulga will get well and find health and happiness, neither of which will happen. Mrs. Hopewell is out of touch with how the world truly is and believes that hope lies in "good country people" (1633). When the story ends, Mrs. Hopewell still does not realize how wrong she is about good country people always being good; some are not so good. On the few occasions that Mrs. Hopewell does realize that country people are not always good, she dismisses it with another one of her favorite sayings: "nothing is perfect" (1633). Mrs. Hopewell's hope lies in those with less than honorable intentions, like her daughter Hulga who has ulterior motives.

Hulga is the thirty-two-year-old daughter of Mrs. Hopewell who legally changed her birth name from Joy to Hulga as an act of rebellion toward her mother. As a child, Hulga was involved in a hunting accident that resulted in the partial loss of one of her legs. Hulga changes her name to an ugly name to reflect her feelings


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