"Woman, Do You Ever Look Inside?"
There are many themes within Flannery O'Connor's short story "Good Country People".
Religion is definitely one of the more prominent themes that the story holds. Like most
of O'Connor's works, it plays a big part in the actions or characteristics of the main
characters. This is all on the surface however. The more important and less accentuated
theme is the various facades the characters create for themselves. These facades prevent
them from facing their true "grotesque" selves. These facades also hide their weaknesses
that they have no wish to face ort just can't understand. People must be comfortable with
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The quote acts as foreshadowing for what her attitude towards life will be. We
later find out that she is right, but that she does not live by her credo. Manley Pointer
exploits this weakness as soon as she opened her door. Showing up as a pathetic bible
salesman with an ailing heart (which is coincidentally exactly what Joy-Hulga had) laying
the old guilt trip on Mrs. Hopewell on how no one wants to deal with a simple country boy
like himself, he attacks her weakness right at the heart of it. Not more than two minutes
after he knocked on the door, he ends up eating dinner with them and at the conclusion is
even invited to return any time he'd like. His persona blinds Mrs. Hopewell and prevents
her from being somewhat suspicious of Manley. At the end of the story, we see that Mrs.
Hopewell is still clouded by her weakness and refers to Manly as simple as he passes
through a field by Mrs. Hopewell and Mrs. Freeman. Unlike Mrs. Hopewell, Joy-Hulga faces
and comes to a realization of her weakness.
Joy-Hulga, who had grown cynical and cold as she grew up with only one leg and heart
ailment, creates an image that she is smarter and better than the rest of the characters
in the story. Her education and self-absorption seemed to instill this attitude in her to
greater extent than if she hadn't studied and read so much. Her weakness is the feeling
of power she believed she gained from her studies. She refers to herself as a person who
"sees through nothing". Little does she know that she is stating her greatest weakness by
saying this. Her hidden desires cause her several problems later on. After years of
education and self-absorption, Joy-Hulga felt that she had no weaknesses. Science wishes
to know nothing of nothing and this is the credo followed by Joy-Hulga. Her line of
thinking turned out to be a weakness in itself. Her weaknesses are so prominent and
hurtful from her childhood that she doesn't want to be reminded of them. Manley Pointer
puts Joy-Hulga into a position where she feels in control. She took all his shame away
and turned it into something useful. She believes that she is manipulating Manley, but it
is he who is doing the manipulating. She lets her guard down because she feels in such
great control and becomes comfortable with Manley. She is being manipulated from the
start, and no amount of education can stop the fact that she doesn't see it coming. As
soon as she admits to loving Manley Pointer, he sees the opening to completely destroy
the fa?ade she worked so hard to create her whole life. Before Joy-Hulga even knows it,
her glasses are off and Manley has removed her leg. Physically she is broken down, but