Many people idiotically believe they know everything about life; they make up their sets of beliefs and think they are above everyone. Nevertheless, the short story “Good Country People” by Flannery O’Connor demonstrates how even the most literate nihilistic person can be tricked by the simplest uneducated one. Joy/Hulga discovered that her believe in nothing, was in reality nothing that had rock-solid foundations. People such as Joy/Helga are allowed to go up to a pedestal by all the people who surround them; they allow them to go their own way believing in their own supposed superior values. In the end, an ugly truth shows them they are in reality just as everyone else.
Joy Hopewell was injured as a child in a hunting accident, and therefore had to use a wooden leg, this made Joy change her name to Hulga, which according to her mother was the “ugliest name in any language” (O’ Connor 2531). The fact that she had lost a leg made Joy feel completely opposite of what her name was so she decided to change it to what she felt. She considers herself ugly and even her mother makes her feel this way when she is at her presence. Helga considers herself neither joyful nor hopeful she inclined to live her life in books. She is a highly educated woman this is part of what makes her personality, she has a number of degrees, but she is thirty-two and still living at her mother’s home. Her mother Mrs. Hopewell lives with simple country people, she considers she has to accept all kinds of people because “it takes all kinds to make the world” (2531.)
These simple country people are the only company Hulga and Mrs. Hopewell have. In a way this makes Hulga narcissistic, for she thinks there is not one person of her level of intellect, moral beliefs; even in religion, they differ from her. Perhaps the fact that she lost a leg meant that she had not only loss a part of her body, but a part of her humility; she is convinced that she is superior to them and trusts that her PhD in Philosophy is all that she needs to exist and survive. Subsequently, Manley Pointer comes to the Hopewell’s home to sell them bibles, but Hulga directs her mother to get rid of the so-called “salt of the earth” (2535). However, the bible salesman was a different person, a simple uneducated person, the kind her mother is so fond of. Manley Pointer sells an image to Mrs. Hopewell, he shows himself as a good person, responsible and loving of God and hides his true face, but he manages to catch Helga’s interest not because of all these great qualities but for his heart condition.
His condition is a common factor between this simple inferior mind and Helga, so she happily agrees to see this man once more in the barn. Helga expects so much from this bible salesman, even though she sees him so below of her, and she thinks she can change him and manipulate him to believe in her moralistic views of nothing. She sees him as the only one that understands her. However, the next time he sees her in the barn, Manley becomes manipulative and her control and independency are taken away as he removes her wooden leg. From being in total control, she sees the unexpected; Manley is the one in control as he holds her one piece of independence. He found Helga’s vulnerable point and he takes advantage of this demonstrating his power by not giving her leg bag and when he literately opens his fake bible and pulls out a whisky bottle, a birth control device and a set of obscene cards, this ugly unraveling events show Helga the true intentions the bible salesman has.
Helga claimed to be someone “who see through nothing”, a person who can see beyond an inferior mind. Nevertheless, she is proven that her seeing and belief in nothing are complete faulty foundations (2540). She learned the hard way that those who usually seem to be simple and clueless are the ones who have knowledge enough to outsmart a PhD “anyday in the week”(2542). People like Manly Pointer are evil, but as Mrs. Hopewell said, it does take all kinds to make the world. If it weren’t for people such as Pointer, many self-centered people would be running over simple people that are usually the ones who know at least something more than they do.