Like Mother Like Daughter

In Flannery O’Connor’s “Good Country People,” Hulga strives for independence from her mother. Mrs. Hopewell still sees her 32 year old daughter, Joy, as a child. “She thought of her still as a child because it tore her heart to think instead of the poor stout girl in her thirties who had never danced a step or had any normal good times. (2) Hulga recognizes this and begins to attempt to distance herself from her mother. Hulga changes her given name, Joy, to Hulga as a first step. She’s proud of this victory with her thought being, “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.” (2) Mrs. Hopewell wishes to improve her daughter, ” If she would only keep herself up a little, she wouldn’t be so bad looking.” (3) Hulga recognizes her mother’s wish for her to better herself, and instead she decides to present herself poorly against her mother’s wish. For example, she decides to dress in, “a six-year-old skirt and a yellow sweat shirt with a faded cowboy on a horse embossed on it.” (3) Hulga decides to act this particular way due to her condition not allowing her to be physical independent from her mother. “if it had not been for this condition, she would be far from these red hills and good country people.” (3)

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