The story Good Country People begins byintroducing Mrs. Hopewell, a farmowner, and Mrs.
Freeman, her tenant. Joy, Mrs.Hopewell’s daughter, is thirty-two and has a prosthetic leg due to a hunting incident.
Joy restates on several occasions that she doesn’t believe in god and has aPh.D. in philosophy. She had her name changed to “Hulga” as a way torebel against her mother with the ugliest name possible.Manley Pointer appears tobe just a Bible salesman, who stopped by Mrs. Hopewell’s house and attempted tosell them a Bible. Mrs.
Hopewell, disinterested in purchasing a bible, let himstay for dinner instead. Mrs. Hopewell perceives Manley to be “goodcountry people,” which she restates throughout the story. When he leaves, Manleyinvites Hulga to a picnic later the next day, and she agrees.
While they arepicnicking, he coaxes her enter the barn with him. Manley convinces her to showwhere her prosthetic leg attaches and takes her glasses. From his valise, Manleyremoves a hollowed Bible holding whiskey, obscene cards, and what can beimplied as condoms. He then reveals that his real name isn’t Manley and that heisn’t a Christian. He also talks about other instances where he had stolenprosthetics. Hulga’s prosthetic legsymbolizes much more than I would expect at first. On the surface it seemedlike the leg is just a prop for the story, but it is quite the contrary. FlanneryO’Connor includes a key line that reveals the meaning of the leg.
She statesthat Hulga “took care of the leg as someone else would his soul” (page 493). Thisbecomes evident when Manley tries to separate her from the leg, making hervulnerable and “entirely dependent on him”. A similar experience I could relateto would be talking in a crowd and how vulnerable one can be when outside thecomfort zone.Mrs, Hopewell statedsomething interesting: “Manley was just good country people” (page 489). Thisis an example of something that everyone can relate to. There is always someonein everyone’s life who turns out to be different than what they initiallyseemed. In this case, Manley turns out to be the soulless thief toward the endof the story.In one of the closingparagraphs, Mrs.
Hopewell sees “Manley” for the last time. Oblivious to theevents prior, she suggests that “the world would be better off if we were allthat simple” (page 495). This is Flannery O’Connor’s further use of irony in thestory. Mrs. Hopewell and Hulga both believe that Manley is way too “simple” to deceivethem but this is far from true.
Manley turns out to be one of the most clever charactersin the story.