Good Country People Questions and Answers
by Flannery O’Connor

Good Country People book cover
Start Your Free Trial

Why does Manley Pointer refer to Christians as Chrustians in "Good Country People"?

Expert Answers info

D. Reynolds eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2016

write10,881 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, History, and Social Sciences

Initially, we believe as readers, as do Hulga and Mrs. Hopewell, that Manley Pointer says "Chrustian" because he is a simply an ignorant country hick who has been taught to pronounce it that way.

It is only at the end of the story that we might go back and wonder if he isn't deliberately mocking Mrs. Hopewell in using the term "Chrustian." By the story's end, we have learned, to our surprise, that Manley is anything but a Christian. He is a Bible-selling con artist who drinks, steals, and has illicit sex.

The only person who ever actually uses the word Christian in the story is Hulga, who "hisses" the term at Manley three times to mean he is a hypocrite when he pushes her false leg away from her.

At that point, Manley says to her:

I hope you don't think... that I believe in that crap!

He tells her he is nothing more than a Bible salesman and then steals her false leg, leaving her stranded.

As we go back over the story, we might realize Manley has never once used the words "Jesus," "Christ," or "holy" either—nor has anyone else. It might dawn on us at this point that when says to Mrs. Hopewell she is "Chrustian," he means she is crusted over with a false doctrine or relying on a crutch or a crustacean or lower life form: that he is deliberately insulting her.

check Approved by eNotes Editorial

Lorna Stowers eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2011

write4,625 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, Social Sciences, and History

First, I need to let you know that I changed the spelling of "crustians" to "chrustians" (as it is in the text).

Manley Pointer, in "Good Country People", refers to Christians as "Chrustians".  The reasoning behind this can be answered in a few ways.

First, dissect the word. Crust (chrust) means a tough or hard outer layer. "Ian" is either a suffix that refers to what someone is or does OR is used as a suffix that forms an adjective or noun. Therefore, "chrustian" could have two meanings based upon this: a person with a hard outer layer or a word which describes a hard person.

Second, the story is written using southern dialect.  The use of the word "chrustian" could simply be Flannery O'Conner using the dialect of the area from which she bases the story: Georgia.

Lastly, Pointer could simply be making fun of Christians.  By the end of the story, readers find out that Pointer is not a bible salesman, but he seems to prey on them based upon their unshakable trust of other "Christians".

check Approved by eNotes Editorial