In the short story “Good Country People,” Flannery O’Connor utilizes the characters Joy Hopewell and Manley Pointer to expose how believing in nothing makes a person isolated and spiritually empty. Joy Hopewell is a well-educated, thirty-two year old atheist with an artificial leg. Joy's lack of belief causes her to lose all the human civility and decency she has. She even changes her name to Hulga. Flannery O'Connor's use of the mythological Trickster persona to seek, attract, and repulse the protagonist Joy-Hulga leads to her spiritual enlightenment.
Manley Pointer through the Trickster persona seeks out the Hopewells, specifically Hulga. From the beginning the Bible salesman uses the svelte and persuasive words used by the Trickster. Pointer maneuvers himself inside when he tells Mrs. Hopewell, “Lady, I’ve come to speak of serious things.” He continues, using her own thoughts and feelings to manipulate her, telling her, “I know you believe in Chrustian service” and “People like you don’t like to fool with country people like me.” The Trickster knows that Mrs. Hopewell is just being polite, but he persists, taking advantage of her desire to avoid all conflict and her love of “good country people.” Manley craftily gets himself invited to dinner out of sympathy. Knowing that Joy-Hulga has a heart condition, the Trickster deceives Mrs. Hopewell by telling her, “I got this heart condition. I may not live long. When you know it’s something wrong with you and you may not live long, well then, lady…” Through deceit and smooth talking, Pointer guarantees he'll spend the evening at the Hopewell's home. The Trickster has found his way inside and can now focus on his target Hulga.
The Trickster has found his target and continues to use his mythological persona to attract Joy/Hulga. Pointer uses his silver tongue to convince disagreeable Hulga to accompany him on a picnic the next day. The con-artist tells Hulga, “I think you're brave. I think you're real sweet” and...
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