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In the short story "Good Country People" how do the names of the characters...

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dreed001 | eNotes Newbie

Posted November 17, 2008 at 11:10 AM via web

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In the short story "Good Country People" how do the names of the characters symbolically represent thematic contrasts in the story and what exactly is Hulga's greatest handicap?

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pmiranda2857 | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted November 18, 2008 at 6:46 AM (Answer #1)

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Mrs. Hopewell is a divorced woman who runs a farm.  Her name is symbolic because she is a good Christian woman.  She has a daughter, Joy, who has changed her name to Hulga to represent how ugly she feels, she has a wooden leg.  Mrs. Hopewell, has a troubled daughter who does not believe in God, but her mother hopes that her daughter will embrace the faith.

Mrs. Freeman has two daughters, who are sweet girls, Glynese has a lot of boyfriends and her younger daughter, Carramae is married and pregnant.  So Mrs. Freeman is free from worry regarding her two daughters.

When a Bible salesman, Manley Pointer, arrives at the Hopewell home, Mrs. Hopewell asks him to dinner. 

Manley Pointer - his name suggests that he will be man like, honest, courageous, protective,  Pointer also has a symbolic meaning, referencing a phallic symbol, which suggests that he will be highly sexual. 

When he ends up in the hayloft with Hulga, he does not want to engage in intimate relations with her, he wants to, and does, steal her wooden leg.  He is a con man, a fraud, a phony.  He is not manly at all, but a coward who has taken advantage of a handicapped woman.

Hulga's biggest handicap is her negative attitude.  She wants to live a life devoid of spirituality or belief in God.  She has a hardened heart, the episode with Pointer changes her.

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