How is identity a key component in Flannery O'Connor's "Good Country People?"
All of the characters in Flannery O'Connor's short story, "Good Country People," suffer from identity issues. Joy (Hulga) Hopewell particularly is an example of a character trying to reinvent herself. She distances herself as much as possible from her mother, a divorcee who sees and lives life in a most simplistic manner. When Joy loses her leg, she discards her old identity as well; she becomes angry and hateful, changes her name to Hulga (an ugly name), and earns a PhD, in part so she can lord her new-found intellect over her mother. She is the polar opposite of her name, Hope-well, for she has no hopes or dreams of making her life a better one. Meanwhile, Mrs. Hopewell's own simple ways prevent her from understanding or communicating with her daughter.
Mrs. Freeman, a tenant farmer, makes her living through the assistance of her boss, Mrs. Hopewell; her name--Free-man--receives ironic treatment since she is far from free or self-sustaining. Her daughters, however, give of themselves freely to men: Carramae, 15, is married and pregnant; Glynese, 18, "has many admirers."
Manley Pointer maintains the dual identity of a con man disguised as a do-gooder Bible salesman with a keen eye for weaknesses in other human beings.