In "Good Country People", does Ms Hopewell's character explains her daughter character in any way?
Mrs. Hopewell's character does explain her daughter's character to a point. Joy/Hulga, is an angry, resentful individual, who although very smart, does not participate in life according to her mother's notion of society.
Mrs. Hopewell, as her name suggests, likes to believe in the best of people. She hopes that her daughter will have a happy life. She longs for her daughter to be normal, to want normal things, like a husband and a family.
Joy/Hulga acts more detached and uninterested in life, I think, just to be as different as possible from her mother as she can. She does not want to hope, she does not believe in God, in love, in anything spiritual.
Mrs. Hopewell and her daughter are exact opposites in their views of life. Except when it comes to Manley Pointer, both are taken in by his charade. Mrs. Hopewell believes him to be a sincere individual. Hulga/Joy, although she wants to engage in dangerous behavior, when confronted with Manley Pointer's indecent behavior, she is frightened and caught off guard.
"While with her PhD she considers herself intellectually superior to everyone else in the story, she also has “a heart condition,” which speaks to the lack of love in her life. Her education has led her to believe in Nothing—a dangerous arrogance that leaves her vulnerable to Manley Pointer, who cures her of it by taking her leg as well as her pride in the barn loft."