17 February 2010
Breaking from a Patriarchal Society
Flannery O’ Connor, one of the unique literary voices to emerge in the 1950’s, was born in Savannah, Georgia, in 1925. O’ Connor often used American challenges to depict the characters and setting in her socially centered short stories. O’ Connor’s “Good Country People” is a representation of a contradiction in society’s outlook on women and men. In the “Good Country People”, Gilbert and Gubar’s stereotypical image of a monster-like woman was significantly depicted. Flannery O’ Connor uses Joy-Hulga to illustrate Gilbert and Gubar’s terminology of a monstrous woman in her time period.
Joy legally changes her name to Hulga in pursuit to emphasize her individuality in the world. The name Hulga brings forth a sense of aggressive behavior, and Mrs. Hopewell finds her daughter’s name to be “the ugliest name in any language” (O’Connor 174). When Joy changes her name to Hulga, she allows it to correspond to a change in her personality. Mrs. Hopewell overlooks her daughter’s abrupt changes in attitude because of her disabilities, but Hulga uses her monstrous outbursts to release her frustration about how she feels about her life. The goal in Hulga’s mind is to find a name that has a negative connotation. Hulga believes that, “One of her major triumphs was that her mother had not been able to turn her dust into Joy, but the greater one was that she had been able to turn it herself into Hulga” (175). In changing her name, Hulga was able to change the denotation that was associated with her previous name, Joy. Hulga feels as if she has summed up her entire life’s story by creating this new name. Joy uses her new name to form a new identity that conflicts with her mother’s beliefs and society’s patriarchal philosophy. Hulga sees the changing of her name as a way she can express how less she cares about male dominance.
Although her mother does not accept it and still calls...