In "Good Country People," how are the characters' names significant? Is there any symbolism?

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bullgatortail eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In her creation of Manley Pointer, author Flannery O'Connor has given birth to one of literature's greatest names. He lives up to both of them: Although pretending to be an innocent, country bumpkin, the highly confident Manley shows his manly side when he seduces Hulga. Like the hunting dog for which he is named, Manley sniffs out his prospective victims, and then flushes out their insecurities before taking advantage of them. The name also conjures up phallic connotations. 

Joy/Hulga Hopewell is another great combination. As Joy Hopewell, she showed great promise as a youngster, but after losing her leg, she becomes embittered with life and all around her, and she chooses one of the ugliest possible names to fittingly reinvent herself.

Mrs. Freeman's name is ironic, of course, since she is a tenant farmer relying on the support of the Hopewells. Mrs. Freeman's daughters, both teenagers with plenty of sexual experience, apparently are quite willing to give themselves freely to any man. Mrs. Hopewell consistently lives up to her name, always hoping that all will turn out well for her and her daughter.

Noelle Thompson eNotes educator| Certified Educator

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Good Country People

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