The Character of Hulga in Good Country People by Mary Flannery O'Connor

The Character of Hulga in Good Country People by Mary Flannery O'Connor

By definition joy means a great feeling of pleasure and happiness. In Mary Flannery O'Connor's short story Good Country People, Joy Freeman was not at all joyful. Actually, she was the exact opposite. Joy's leg was shot off in a hunting accident when she was ten. Because of that incident, Joy was a stout girl in her thirties who had never danced a step or had any normal good times. (O'Connor 249). She had a wooden leg that only brought her teasing from others and problems in doing daily activities. Joy was very rude as well. In the story it speaks of her comments being so rude and ugly and her face so glum that her mother's boss, Mrs. Hopewell, would tell her if she could not come pleasantly than for her to not come at all. (O'Connor 249).

In the story she is very rude to her mother. She would yell at her mother and tell her to look inside herself and see exactly what she was, which she believed was nothing. The story speaks of her entering rooms with her wooden leg making a hulking sound. In all she was miserable to be around and when she made an entrance it was one of the most disturbing ones of all. Joy also hated any living thing, which included animals, flowers, and especially young men. The only thing that ever made Joy happy in her life was when she went to school and acquired her Ph.D. in philosophy. Because she was older, she had no real reason to go back to school, so she was stuck with nothing to bring her pleasure or personal enrichment. When Joy was twenty-one and away from home she had her name legally changed. She tried to find the most horrible sounding syllables to put together and she thought of the name Hulga....

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...ated and had a Ph.D. in Philosophy. She could not call her daughter a schoolteacher, a nurse, or a chemical engineer and that bothered her. These people and episodes in Joy's life made her a very miserable person. They made her hate all that surrounded her, which included flowers, animals, and young men. This is why Joy changes her name to Hulga when she was twenty-one years old. She believed the name represented her as an individual. The name was fierce, strong, and determined just like her. The name reminded her of the broad, blank hull of a battleship. Joy felt the name reflected her inside and out. It separated her from the people who surrounded her that she hated the most.

Works Cited

O'Connor, Flannery. Good Country People. Literature an Introduction to Fiction, Poetry, And Drama. X. J. Kennedy and Dana Gioia. Longman. 2002. (247-261)
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