Religion plays a central role in this story. Hulga, (Joy), a very educated woman, she earned a PHD, has replaced education for religion. She does not believe in anything; she does not believe in God.
Manley Pointer, a Bible salesman, who comes to the Hopewell's home ends up tricking Hulga, using a false pretense of being interested in a romantic liaison with her. He is not what he appears to be, but Hulga trusts him nonetheless.
Although Hulga has a wooden leg, she really has a wooden heart, until her encounter with Manley Pointer. His romantic attention to her undermines her calm demeanor, and after he steals her wooden leg and leaves her stranded in the hayloft, Hulga has a spiritual awakening.
"O’Connor suggests the possibilities offered by the presence of evil in the world when depicting Manley “disappearing down the hole” in the loft and then “struggling successfully over the green speckled lake” as he leaves Hulga “sitting on the straw in the dusty sunlight.” In these images, Manley is both devil and Jesus, and Joy/Hulga is in a liminal space of possibility."