Philosophy

Describing Hulga

of the of the The Hulga holds no meaning and the only reason why Joy chooses it is becauseit sounds ugly. The name itself is symbolic to Joy’s character. Just like she has a weak body and heart, similarly she possesses an ugly soul. She holds no compassion for anyone including her mother towards whom she continuously makes rude remarks. An important part of Hulga’s character is her missing leg. Initially she used to be insecure and fearful because of her wooden leg but as she grew up she realized that it was an inevitable part of her. She does not allow anyone to come near it nor allowing anyone to see it, indicating her possessiveness towards her artificial leg. Despite her professed beliefs, Hulga had some reservations about her looks and age as she always wanted to portray herself younger than she actually was. Mrs. Hopewell thought of her daughter as a child though she was thirty-two years old and highly educated (271). Moreover Hulga showed similar childish behavior. all day [she wore] a six-year-old skirt and a yellow sweat shirt with a faded cowboy on a horse embossed on it (276). When Manly Pointer requested her age, she replied seventeen (283). The first mention of Joy in the story is as Mrs. Hopewell’s daughter, as a large blonde girl who had an artificial leg (271).Joy is totally dependent on her mother because of her physical disability. When she was ten, Joy lost her leg in an accident during hunting. In addition to her physical disability, she had heart problems because of which she could not go away from her home. In short, her health confined her to her home with her mother as her only caretaker. She is no belief in God or divinity whatsoever. neither does she value the bond she shares with her mother. The only thing she reveres is her artificial limb as it has become part of her identity. When Joy takes her artificial limb off, she [feels] entirely dependent on [Manly Pointer] (289).Despite her disabilities, Joy is very intelligent and shows her intellect in the academia. She is proficient in her studies and shows expertise in the study of philosophy. Her education however also becomes a burden on her relationship with her mother. She has acquired so much education that she feels it has increased the gap between the mentality and mindset between herself and her mother. Joy had made it plain that if it had not been for this [heart] condition, she would be far from these red hills and good country people (276) The name ‘Hulga’ has no meaning, the girl changes her name to make it sound uglier which is indeed a representation of her character. Even though Hulga is well educated in her subjects, she is not well prepared to deal with the practicalities of life. This is clear from her encounter with Manly pointer. His academic intellect is nowhere near that of Hulga, but he is easily able to fool Hulga as well as Mrs. Hopewell. He presents himself as one of the ‘Good Country People’ and gains her trust in the few encounters that he has with Hulga. As her mother rightly puts that she would have ‘been better without a useless PhD. degree in Philosophy’ as she has no idea what life really is and neither does she wishes to know about it. She lives in her own bubble formed out of her own nihilistic philosophical beliefs. Her confrontation with manly Ponter can be classified as the climax of the story. Out of her foolishness, she is compelled to believe that Ponter was actually interested in her. She reluctantly lets go of her artificial leg. However as soon as she gives it to Ponter, he reveals his true character putting Hulga in a deep shock. The wooden leg was the only thing that she had eve relied on and without that it felt as if she had parted away from one of her dearest things. This has an eye-opening effect on Hulga and for the first time in the story she feels overwhelmed by some divine entity and travels closer to God. Before this episode she had never really felt closer to God. She is only humbled when Manley tricks her and steals her wooden leg. This episode leaves her greatly humbled and she needs to look for something she can have faith in and this is the only time in the story that she feels closer to God (Magee 67-70). Hulga in ‘Good Country People’ hence is a receiver of God’s message, which shatters her beliefs of arrogance and independence and moves her closer to Humility. Works Cited O’Connor, Flannery. Good Country People. O’Connor, Flannery. The Complete Stories. Farrar, Straus and Giroux. 33 edition , 1971. Print. Magee, Rosemary.Conversations with Flannery O’Connor. University Press of Mississippi: Jackson, 1987. Print.

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