Interestingly, O'Connor's selection of names for her characters works to establish their significance in the story. Joy Hopewell has changed her name to the ugly name of Hulga because she perceives nothing of beauty that exists in the world. Unlike her mother, Hulga does not believe in "good country people" and she feels herself intellectually superior to others.
However, her experience with Manley Pointer forces Hulga, who thinks that she can seduce him, to realize that her convictions about being able to control her life are, indeed, faulty. She has planned on seducing Manley Pointer, the false bible salesman. However, contrary to her expectations, it is Manley who reduces Helga to a begging woman after he takes her artificial leg and descends the ladder from the hay loft.
Helga tries to appeal to Manley's goodness, but he demonstrates to Hulga that he is the one who believes in nothing:
"I hope you don't think that I believe. I may sell bibles, but I know which end is up."
Manley Pointer has gotten Hulga to show him her leg, and he locks it into a suitcase and takes off. By stealing her leg, Manley exposes her weakness to her, her loss of intellectual pride. Now Hulga finally gains knowledge of evil from her humiliation.