Why do the characters in "Good Country People" need redemption?

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As a devout Catholic, O’Connor uses themes of grace and redemption frequently throughout her writings. To answer your question, I will discuss how three main characters from the “Good Country People” are in need of redemption.

First, Mrs. Hopewell is in need of redemption because of her stereotypical assumptions about people. When Pointer visits the Hopewell farm purportedly selling bibles, Mrs. Hopewell is impressed with his seemingly genteel demeanor, immediately assuming he is “good country people” because of his manners and profession. Mrs. Hopewell likewise believes her daughter Joy is hopelessly foolish because of her academic interests and staunch atheism.

Joy, or Hulga, is also in need of redemption for different reasons. Besides her atheism, Joy’s need for redemption stems from her condescending beliefs about everyone else. Joy believes she is smarter than everyone else she meets, including Pointer. This belief in her intellectual superiority is what makes her vulnerable because she always thinks she has the upper hand in a given situation; this is how Pointer is able to pull off his theft of her prosthesis.

Finally, Pointer himself is in need of redemption. His sin of blasphemy is arguably the worst in the story because he masquerades as a devout Christian while harboring nefarious habits and motives for entering people’s lives. However, his ability to escape unscathed at the end of the story suggests that Joy and her mother’s prideful nature are actually worse, since Pointer seems to be the only one who is honest about himself.

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