Similarities Between Protagonists In Rebellion Against Family And Search For Identity

1302 words - 5 pages

Joy-Hulga from “Good Country People” by Flannery O’Connor and Dee-Wangero from “Everyday Use” by Alice Walker are strong protagonists who share similar motives and characteristics. Joy-Hulga and Dee-Wangero both change their names in an attempt to change themselves. They both share comparable motives and reasoning for changing their names. Similarly, Joy-Hulga and Dee-Wangero act selfishly while try to escape something from their past. Joy-Hulga and Dee-Wangero both alienate themselves from their mothers while in search of their authentic inner self. Joy-Hulga and Dee-Wangero are hiding from past childhood events, both consciously and subconsciously. Although their motives and characteristics are alike, their backgrounds and heritage are extremely diverse.
Joy-Hulga and Dee-Wangero share the same motive and reasoning for changing their names, to gain autonomy while changing themselves. Joy changes her name to Hulga because it is ugly like her disposition and completely opposite of her given name. Joy-Hulga is not only trying to anger her mother, but also attempt to change herself. When Joy-Hulga turns twenty-one, she immediately leaves home and changes her name in an “attempt to redirect her life,” without telling her mother until after she does so (Feeley 236). Joy changes her name to Hulga, which Mrs. Hopewell is certain that she only chose because it was the “ugliest” name she had come across “in any language” (O’Connor 190). Joy chooses the name Hulga at first because of “its ugly sound” but then perceives it as one of her “major triumphs” (190). Joy-Hulga successfully changes her name, displeases her mother, and reestablishes herself. Conversely, Dee changes her name to Wangero to rebel against her heritage and prove that she has accepted a new culture. Dee-Wangero is fleeing from the heritage in which she was raised and embracing a new culture. Dee changes her name to Wangero Leewanika Kemanjo, and professes that “she’s dead,” after being asked by her mother what happened to Dee (Walker 746). Dee states that she “could not bear it any longer being named after the people that oppress” her (746). Though Dee-Wangero changes her name she cannot change her family or her culture.
Joy-Hulga and Dee-Wangero are both selfish individuals, who have little regard for their family home and have poor relationships with their mothers. Joy-Hulga is disrespectful and hateful towards her mother. She seeks out atheism and an education in philosophy because she doesn’t believe in God. For example, Joy-Hulga stomps into the kitchen and does not speak to Mrs. Hopewell or Mrs. Freeman, then later screams heatedly at her mother and demands “if she ever looks inside and see what she is not” (O’Connor 191). Joy-Hulga often speaks rudely to Mrs. Hopewell, and her actions are indecorous at times. Furthermore, because Joy-Hulga is an atheist she will not allow her mother to keep a Bible in the parlor, it is kept in the attic. Joy-Hulga “hates...

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