Good Country People By Flannery O'connor

1658 words - 7 pages

Even though, a person likes to think they are in control, life will show them they are in less control than thought they were. In Flannery O’Connor’s “Good Country People,” the character Hulga is a person that wants to maintain control in every aspect of her life good or bad. To Hulga it seems she is in constant control of her surroundings and her life. However, she does not have control that she thinks has.
Hulga’s birth name was Joy. When Joy/Hulga was 21, she wanted to show her mother she was in control by changing her name. Elizabeth Hubbard states that Hulga, “triumphs in her self-naming not only because it enables her to gain a sense of power over her mother, but also because she feels she as in some sense created herself” (58). Furthermore, Hulga knew there was nothing her mother could do about it. However, Hulga is not in control by changing her name, this was an act of rebellion against her mother. Changing her name did not stop Hulga’s mother from calling her Joy. One scholar states,“Despite everything she has done to break free and create herself as a figure of powerful will, she also continues to be the child her mother lost” (Arbery 45). Therefore, Hulga has lost control once again.
Hulga is a thirty-two year old, and still lives at home with her mother show’s Hulga is not in control of her life. She heavily relies on her mother and uses her disability as a crutch to try to keep control of over her mother, so she thinks. Hulga was born with a weak heart and at the age of ten, she lost her leg in an accident. Hulga was unable to control the accident that caused her to lose her leg only to replace it with an artificial leg. “For Hulga, the artificial leg is in effect the only real part of her, since it is a made thing that she controls in the act of making herself” (Arbery 46). Nonetheless, “Hulga refusal to cover her artificial limb forces those who see her to acknowledge her difference” (Behling 90). Additionally, Hulga controls her mother by the using the accident and what happened to her leg as a way of mind control. The only way Hulga would have been able to control her life would have been to move out and become independent and away from her mother. However, Hulga “made it plain that if it had not been for this condition, she would be far from these red hills and good country people” (274). Hulga is weak and controlled by her mother more than she thinks. From her weak heart to her wooden leg, she is dependent on her mother. Thus, Hulga is giving up control.
A person controls their actions and does not allow their actions control them. Hulga cannot even control herself by the ugly remarks, and negative facial expressions. Hulga states, “If you want me, here I am-- LIKE I AM” (274). This statement is not of a person in control of oneself but that with childlike behaviors. Cynthia Gayman states “we have to get out of our own way in order to see what may be in front us---precisely what Hulga . . . does not do” (152). Once, again,...

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