In O'Conner's "Good Country Pepole" what is the sybolism in each characters name?

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lynnebh eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Flannery O'Connor loved to give her characters symbolic names. In this story, the daughter with the wooden leg is called Joy, but she believes she has no joy in her life, so she has renamed herself Hulga, an ugly Germanic-sounding name that sounds like the name of a Hun, not a woman. Her last name is Hopewell, but Joy/Hulga has neither "joy" nor "hope." Her mother is named Mrs. Hopewell and she does have some "hope" for her daughter (that is why she named her Joy), even though her hope is mostly dashed to pieces by the sullen girl.

The hired woman is named Mrs. Freeman, but she is not really "free" because she works for Mrs. Hopewell and cannot compete with her socially or monetarily, but she always has to get the last word in when they are talking. Mrs. Freeman's daughers are named Glynese and Carramae. Joy/Hulga calls them "Glycerin and Caramel" - two sweet substances. Glynese and Carramae are two feminine sounding names when compared to Hulga. Glynese and Carramae are sweet girls in the eyes of their mother, who is always bragging about them.

Finally, there is Manley Pointer. He is the Bible saleman. He is a "manly" arrival at the farm, and even Joy/Hulga finds him handsome. Some people believe that his last name is a phallic symbol, if you get my drift.

Read the study guide:
Good Country People

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