In "Good Country People" by Flannery O'Connor, the masked truth is reflected unequivocally through the reality in the story, its equal counterpart. For every good or evil thing, there is an antagonist or opposing force. Each character has a duplicate personality mirrored in someone else in the story.
In the story, the names and personalities of the characters clash. The name is the mask covering the personality, which is representative of the reality aspect of each character. When Mrs. Hopewell named her daughter Joy, she was hoping for all the joy that comes with raising a child and watching the child develop a life of its own. What Mrs. Hopewell received was a disabled daughter who lived miserably at home and was the antithesis of everything her mother believed.
The name Hulga is also a mask. When Joy changed her name to Hulga, Mrs. Hopewell had made up her mind that Joy "had thought and thought until she hit upon the ugliest name in any language" (O'Connor 299). Although Joy-Hulga chose the name because of its "ugly sound" and how well it suited her, she "secretly desired an inner self that was beautifully unique" (Bloom 99).
The name Manley, the Bible salesman, has similar implications. The name Manley includes the word "man," but he is constantly revealed through his child-like acts such as his mumbling "was like the sleepy fretting of a child" (O'Connor 307). O'Connor also refers to him as having sweet breath like a child's and his "kisses were sticky like a child's" (307).
The beginning of the story, "Good Country People," is misleading. At first, the story points to Mrs. Freeman and Manley Pointer as being good country people. According to Mrs. Hopewell t...
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... the story. Flannery O'Connor portrayed both the good and the evil side of human nature. She also explored religious issues that are prevalent in today's society. The struggle between good and evil and real and hidden truths build the foundations for "Good Country People."
Bloom, Harold, ed. Flannery O'Connor. New York: Chelsea, 1986.
Humphries, Jefferson. The Otherness Within: Gnostic Readings in Marcel Proust, Flannery O'Connor, and Francois Villion. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State UP, 1983.
May, John R. The Pruning Word: The Parables of Flannery O'Connor. Notre Dame, IN: U of Notre Dame P, 1976.
O'Connor, Flannery. "Good Country People." Literature: Reading, Fiction, Poetry, Drama, and the Essay. 3rd ed. Ed. Robert DiYanni. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1994. 297-310.
Walters, Dorothy. Flannery O'Connor. New York: Twayne, 1973.
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