Good Country People

Hulga Hopewell (Joy) Character Analysis

The daughter of Mrs. Hopewell, Hulga is intelligent, intellectual, and cynical. The shallowness of daily life and the pointless conversations between Mrs. Hopewell and Mrs. Freeman cause her constant annoyance. Limited by a weak heart and an artificial leg, her life has largely been restricted to the home where she grew up. As a result, she has always kept mostly to herself and prefers reading books to spending time with others. Her heart condition and artificial leg, too, have made her more reflective: facing her own mortality and disability forced her to question the religious thinking that dominates the world around her. Instead, she has built a life defined by philosophy. As she states to the Bible Salesman, she has “a number of degrees,” including a Ph.D. in philosophy. When she turned twenty-one, Joy turned her name to “Hulga,” taking pride in turning a symbol of what she saw as her mother’s naïve worldview and turning it into something ugly. To Hulga, religion is a waste of time. She sees herself as above the typical Christian believers around her, who she sees as blind hypocrites. When she meets the Bible Salesman, she plans to seduce him, assuming that with what she believes is her “realistic” view of the world that she is more worldly and savvy. Yet when the Bible Salesman asks to see her artificial leg, Hulga seems to have an almost-religious epiphany, a moment where she feels more deeply connected to the world around her and to him by allowing him access to her vulnerabilities. To her surprise, it turns out that the Bible Salesman is a scam artist, travelling with alcohol, condoms, and pornography inside a hollowed-out Bible. When the Bible Salesman takes the leg and abandons Hulga, Hulga must face the truth that she is not so savvy as she believes. And yet, for the reader if not for Hulga herself, the power of her near-religious experience when giving up her artificial leg is no less real or powerful despite the fact that the Bible Salesman used it to take advantage of her.

Hulga Hopewell (Joy) Quotes in Good Country People

The Good Country People quotes below are all either spoken by Hulga Hopewell (Joy) or refer to Hulga Hopewell (Joy). For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Class, Identity, and Superiority Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Farrar, Strauss and Giroux edition of Good Country People published in 1971.
Good Country People Quotes

By the time Joy came in, they had usually finished the weather report and were on one or the other of Mrs. Freeman’s daughters, Glynese or Carramae, Joy called them Glycerin and Caramel.

Related Characters: Hulga Hopewell (Joy), Mrs. Hopewell, Mrs. Freeman, Carramae and Glynese Freeman –
Page Number: 272
Explanation and Analysis:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Unlock explanations and citation info for this and every other Good Country People quote.

Plus so much more...

Get LitCharts A+
Already a LitCharts A+ member? Sign in!

“Her remarks were usually so ugly and her face so glum that Mrs. Hopewell would say, ‘If you can’t come pleasantly, I don’t want you at all,” to which the girl, standing square and rigid-shouldered with her neck thrust forward, would reply, ‘If you want me, here I am—LIKE I AM.”

Related Characters: Hulga Hopewell (Joy) (speaker), Mrs. Hopewell (speaker)
Page Number: 274
Explanation and Analysis:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Mrs. Hopewell was certain that she had thought and thought and thought until she had hit upon the ugliest name in any language. Then she had gone and had the beautiful name, Joy, changed without telling her mother until after she had done it. Her legal name was Hulga.

Related Characters: Hulga Hopewell (Joy), Mrs. Hopewell
Related Symbols: The Artificial Leg
Page Number: 274
Explanation and Analysis:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

She had a vision of the name working like the ugly sweating Vulcan who stayed in the furnace and to whom, presumably, the goddess had to come when called…

Related Characters: Hulga Hopewell (Joy)
Related Symbols: The Artificial Leg
Page Number: 275
Explanation and Analysis:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit ess

Joy had made it plain that if it had not been for this condition, she would be far from these red hills and good country people. She would be in a university lecturing to people who knew what she was talking about.

Related Characters: Hulga Hopewell (Joy)
Page Number: 276
Explanation and Analysis:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Mrs. Hopewell could not say, “My daughter is an atheist and won’t let me keep the Bible in the parlor.” She said, stiffening slightly, “I keep my bible by my bedside.” This was not the truth. It was in the attic somewhere.

Related Characters: Mrs. Hopewell (speaker), Hulga Hopewell (Joy), The Bible Salesman
Page Number: 278
Explanation and Analysis:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

“I like girls that wear glasses,” he said. “I think a lot. I’m not like these people that a serious thought don’t ever enter their heads. It’s because I may die.”

Related Characters: The Bible Salesman (speaker), Hulga Hopewell (Joy)
Page Number: 284
Explanation and Analysis:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

True genius can get an idea across even to an inferior mind. She imagined that she took his remorse in hand and changed it into a deeper understanding of life. She took all his shame away and turned it into something useful.

Related Characters: Hulga Hopewell (Joy), The Bible Salesman
Page Number: 284
Explanation and Analysis:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

“In my economy,” she said, “I’m saved and you are damned but I told you I didn’t believe in God.”

Related Characters: Hulga Hopewell (Joy) (speaker), The Bible Salesman
Page Number: 286
Explanation and Analysis:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

“I don’t have illusions. I’m one of those people who see through to nothing.”

Related Characters: Hulga Hopewell (Joy) (speaker), The Bible Salesman
Page Number: 287
Explanation and Analysis:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

“I am thirty years old,” she said. “I have a number of degrees.”

Related Characters: Hulga Hopewell (Joy) (speaker), The Bible Salesman
Page Number: 288
Explanation and Analysis:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

But she was as sensitive about the artificial leg as a peacock about his tail. No one ever touched it but her. She took care of it as someone else would his soul, in private and almost with her own eyes away.

Related Characters: Hulga Hopewell (Joy), The Bible Salesman
Related Symbols: The Artificial Leg
Page Number: 288
Explanation and Analysis:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

She decided that for the first time in her life she was face to face with real innocence. This boy, with an instinct that came from beyond wisdom, had touched the truth about her. When after a minute, she said in a hoarse high voice, “All right,” it was like surrendering to him completely. It was like losing her own life and finding it again, miraculously, in his.

Related Characters: Hulga Hopewell (Joy), The Bible Salesman
Related Symbols: The Artificial Leg
Page Number: 289
Explanation and Analysis:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

It was hollow and contained a pocket flask of whiskey, a pack of cards, and a small blue box with printing on it. He laid these out in front of her one at a time in an evenly-spaced row, like one presenting offerings at the shrine of a goddess. He put the blue box in her hand. THIS PRODUCT TO BE USED ONLY FOR THE PREVENTION OF DISEASE, she read, and dropped it . . . It was not an ordinary deck but one with an obscene picture on the back of each card.

Related Characters: Hulga Hopewell (Joy), The Bible Salesman
Related Symbols: The Bible Salesman’s Valise
Page Number: 289
Explanation and Analysis:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

“You’re just like them all—say one thing and do another. You’re a perfect Christian, you’re . . .”

Related Characters: Hulga Hopewell (Joy) (speaker), The Bible Salesman
Page Number: 290
Explanation and Analysis:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

“I’ve gotten a lot of interesting things,” he said. “One time I got a woman’s glass eye this way. And you needn’t to think you’ll catch me because Pointer ain’t really my name. I use a different name at every house I call at and don’t stay nowhere long.”

Related Characters: The Bible Salesman (speaker), Hulga Hopewell (Joy)
Page Number: 291
Explanation and Analysis:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

“You ain’t so smart. I been believing in nothing ever since I was born!”

Related Characters: The Bible Salesman (speaker), Hulga Hopewell (Joy)
Page Number: 291
Explanation and Analysis:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Get the entire Good Country People LitChart as a printable PDF.
Good country people.pdf.medium

Hulga Hopewell (Joy) Character Timeline in Good Country People

The timeline below shows where the character Hulga Hopewell (Joy) appears in Good Country People. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Good Country People
Disease and Disability Theme Icon
...as “Joy,” but later we find out that Joy has changed her legal name to Hulga. The narrator describes her as blonde, highly educated, and thirty-two years old. She also has... (full context)
Appearances and Realities Theme Icon
Hypocrisy Theme Icon
Hulga stays in the bathroom until Mrs. Freeman has arrived, and her small talk with Mrs.... (full context)
Appearances and Realities Theme Icon
Hypocrisy Theme Icon
...make the world,” Mrs. Hopewell says. Mrs. Freeman responds, “I always said it did myself.” Hulga, hearing all this talk, which strikes her as petty and self-important talk, feels “constant outrage.” (full context)
Class, Identity, and Superiority Theme Icon
Appearances and Realities Theme Icon
Disease and Disability Theme Icon
...to work the farm, because she divorced her husband. When Mrs. Hopewell tried to get Hulga to work with her, Hulga sulked so much that her mother said that it was... (full context)
Appearances and Realities Theme Icon
Authentic Faith and Vulnerability Theme Icon
Disease and Disability Theme Icon
Hypocrisy Theme Icon
Mrs. Hopewell accepts her daughter’s negative attitude because Hulga lost her leg when she was ten years old in a hunting accident. Because of... (full context)
Appearances and Realities Theme Icon
Disease and Disability Theme Icon
Hypocrisy Theme Icon
When Mrs. Freeman began to call Hulga by her new name, at first Hulga was angry. She does not want anyone to... (full context)
Authentic Faith and Vulnerability Theme Icon
Disease and Disability Theme Icon
Hypocrisy Theme Icon
Hulga resents that Mrs. Hopewell would often criticize her facial expression, saying that “people who looked... (full context)
Class, Identity, and Superiority Theme Icon
Appearances and Realities Theme Icon
Authentic Faith and Vulnerability Theme Icon
Disease and Disability Theme Icon
Hypocrisy Theme Icon
Mrs. Hopewell regrets allowing Hulga to return to school to get a PhD. Hulga is thirty-two years old, but because... (full context)
Class, Identity, and Superiority Theme Icon
...notes that her fifteen-year-old daughter, Carramae, who is married and pregnant, has been vomiting. Watching Hulga, Mrs. Hopewell wonders what her own daughter said to the Bible Salesman who had shown... (full context)
Class, Identity, and Superiority Theme Icon
Appearances and Realities Theme Icon
Authentic Faith and Vulnerability Theme Icon
Hypocrisy Theme Icon
...character. He also comments that there is no Bible in their house’s parlor—Mrs. Hopewell blames Hulga for this. Mrs. Hopewell then lies to the Bible Salesman, telling him that she keeps... (full context)
Class, Identity, and Superiority Theme Icon
Appearances and Realities Theme Icon
Authentic Faith and Vulnerability Theme Icon
Disease and Disability Theme Icon
Hypocrisy Theme Icon
...Pointer.” Mrs. Hopewell then insists that she does appreciate “good country people,” but just then Hulga arrives, ready for dinner, and demands that her mother get rid of the Bible Salesman.... (full context)
Class, Identity, and Superiority Theme Icon
Appearances and Realities Theme Icon
Disease and Disability Theme Icon
Hypocrisy Theme Icon
At dinner, Hulga pretends not to hear whenever the Bible Salesman speaks to her. He tells his hosts... (full context)
Class, Identity, and Superiority Theme Icon
Appearances and Realities Theme Icon
...the present, Saturday morning, Mrs. Freeman now recounts the romantic success of her daughter, Glynese. Hulga joins in, hoping to keep Mrs. Freeman there as long as possible in order to... (full context)
Appearances and Realities Theme Icon
Hulga shows up to the gate at 10 am the next day—when she and the Bible... (full context)
Class, Identity, and Superiority Theme Icon
Appearances and Realities Theme Icon
Authentic Faith and Vulnerability Theme Icon
Disease and Disability Theme Icon
Hypocrisy Theme Icon
As the two walk, the Bible Salesman asks Hulga where her artificial leg joins to her body, and Hulga is offended. The Bible Salesman... (full context)
Class, Identity, and Superiority Theme Icon
Appearances and Realities Theme Icon
Authentic Faith and Vulnerability Theme Icon
Hypocrisy Theme Icon
They arrive at the old barn, where Hulga had imagined she would seduce him. The Bible Salesman asks if Hulga has been “saved.”... (full context)
Appearances and Realities Theme Icon
Authentic Faith and Vulnerability Theme Icon
Disease and Disability Theme Icon
...barn. The Bible Salesman laments that they can’t go up to the loft because of Hulga’s missing leg. She is offended and immediately climbs up. She says he doesn’t need his... (full context)
Class, Identity, and Superiority Theme Icon
Appearances and Realities Theme Icon
Authentic Faith and Vulnerability Theme Icon
Hypocrisy Theme Icon
Again, the Bible Salesman demands that she say she loves him. Hulga explains that love is “not a word I use. I don’t have illusions. I’m one... (full context)
Appearances and Realities Theme Icon
Authentic Faith and Vulnerability Theme Icon
Disease and Disability Theme Icon
The Bible Salesman then tells Hulga to prove that she loves him. He asks her to show him where her artificial... (full context)
Appearances and Realities Theme Icon
Authentic Faith and Vulnerability Theme Icon
Disease and Disability Theme Icon
The Bible Salesman asks Hulga to show him how to take the artificial leg off and then put it back... (full context)
Class, Identity, and Superiority Theme Icon
Appearances and Realities Theme Icon
Authentic Faith and Vulnerability Theme Icon
Disease and Disability Theme Icon
Hypocrisy Theme Icon
...contains a flask of whiskey, pornographic playing cards, and a box of condoms. He offers Hulga a drink of the whiskey. Hulga is shocked, and she says that she thought he... (full context)
Class, Identity, and Superiority Theme Icon
Appearances and Realities Theme Icon
Authentic Faith and Vulnerability Theme Icon
Disease and Disability Theme Icon
Hypocrisy Theme Icon
...of his things, into his valise . As he descends from the loft, he tells Hulga that he has a whole collection of things he’s stolen in a similar way, and... (full context)