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The central conflict is between Joy/Hulga and Manley Pointer, the so-called Bible salesman who comes to the house and is invited to dinner by Mrs. Hopewell. She believes him to be a good, sincere person and hopes that he will take a liking to her daughter.
However, Manley Pointer is not who he appears to be, but a con man, who when he finds out that Hulga has a wooden leg, becomes fascinated with her, determined to steal her wooden leg.
Hulga is confronted by someone, Manley Pointer, who has less belief in anything spiritual than she does. She is shocked by his cruelty and inhumanity when he steals her wooden leg and leaves her stranded in the barn, with no way of getting back to the house.
She screams for her leg, but he dismisses her with contempt. To Hulga’s horror, Manley puts her wooden leg in his suitcase, saying, “One time I got a woman’s glass eye this way.” As he walks away, he has nothing but contempt for her because he, like she, dismissed God from his life a long time ago: “I been believing in nothing ever since I was born,” he says. All of a sudden, her intellectual snobbery in her nihilism becomes reduced to the same as his manipulative cruelty."
Hulga, left stranded and vulnerable without her wooden leg, has a revelation about life and her non-belief. It is possible that Hulga will be dramatically changed by this experience.
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