Good Country People Questions and Answers
by Flannery O’Connor

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In "Good Country People," why is it significant that Mrs. Hopewell's daughter has two names?

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David Morrison eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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The two names represent separate identities residing in the one person. Joy is no longer joyful, having had her life ruined by an accident that caused permanent disability. As far as she's concerned, her life is as good as over. In her mind, "Joy" is as much a cruel, vicious lie as "Hopewell." There is no joy; there is no hope; so Joy has to go.

It's fair to say that Hulga's not the most elegant of names. But it certainly seems to suit Joy in her present condition of hatred and bitterness towards the world. There is a sense, however, in which Joy has made a conscious choice to act towards others the way she does. She had no control over what happened to her, but she does have the ability to choose how to respond. And she's made that choice: a choice of a whole new persona, one that reflects who and what she thinks she now is. For good or ill, Joy/Hulga has changed her stance towards the world. Changing her name simply sets the seal on an existential decision she made long ago in...

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