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Good Country People, A Review And Analysis

759 words - 3 pages

Everyone wants to believe that they are beautiful. For this reason, we tend to seek out that approval from others including our parents, friends, and other loved ones. Flannery O'Connor's story, "Good Country People," focuses on this particular theme. In her narrative, a young girl named Joy Hopewell longs for her mother's approval. When she does not find it, Joy begins to believe that she is unworthy of anyone's admiration. This basic premise allows for Manley Pointer to easily win Joy's trust. Flannery O'Connor includes this string of events in order to show the significant role parents play in developing their children's self-esteem, as well as reveal that even though Joy Hopewell begins to believe that she is not beautiful, she continues to long for unconditional love.

In this story, Mrs. Hopewell constantly criticizes the way her daughter looks and acts. Even to her, Joy is not beautiful. For example, O'Connor states that, "Mrs. Hopewell said that people who looked on the bright side of things would be beautiful even if they were not" (133). Mrs. Hopewell says this in reference to her daughter's poor attitude. She believes that even though her daughter is not pretty, Joy can compensate for her ugliness in the ways that she interacts with others. However, even Joy's mannerisms prove unsatisfactory to her mother. Mrs. Hopewell thinks that her daughter is rude. Consequently, she feels obligated to offset Joy's poor behavior by being extra hospitable and courteous to visitors. Also, Mrs. Hopewell refuses to take any pride in her daughter, even though Joy has become an extremely accomplished woman by going to college and earning a degree in psychology. As a result, the relationship between Joy and her mother becomes distant and strained.

In addition in "Good Country People," O'Connor reveals how Mrs. Hopewell's disapproval of her daughter causes Joy to also view herself negatively. For instance, Joy legally changes her name to Hulga. She changes her name from Joy because she does not see herself as beautiful as such a name implies. In fact, the narrator says, "she had thought and thought until she had hit upon the ugliest name in any language" (132). Furthermore,...

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