Revisiting O’Connor’s “Good Country People” ~ A Mrs. Hopewell Journal/Letter Final Chapter?

Things Are Looking Up at The Cedars

It was three weeks ago yesterday Joy was left in that barn loft. As you know, that monster of a man (I use the word man very loosely, as he was far from a man) took my daughter’s leg and glasses. Can you believe it? We have been all upside down here at the house ever since. We sure got taken for a ride I reckon. Mrs. Freeman and I had to go get Joy down from that loft, Lord you should have seen her face. You would think that monster took her soul. I am here to tell you she was broken. The whole way home she wouldn’t speak to us and for that matter, she wouldn’t even look at us. That was a long walk home with none of us talking, not sure what to say or what not to say. Joy was sensitive and ornery before this scoundrel did this to her. We did not want to put gasoline on a fire.

It has been a long three weeks let me tell you. Joy (she refuses to be called Hulga anymore and get this, this coming up Monday, she wants me to take her to the courthouse to get her name changed back to Joy) spent the first three or four days locked in her room. She has been crying a lot and has thrown away all her books that made no sense to me anyway. She still has crying fits from time to time, but the space is growing farther apart in between those fits of crying, as more days pass. One thing I must give her, god bless her, that monster Manley or Flem or whatever his real name is may have taken her leg, her glasses and for all intents and purposes her foundation in life for all she knew, but Lord knows he didn’t take her meanness. That child is some kind of stubborn. But, in her defense, it is a different stubborn now. In all my years, I never thought that I would say this, but I think this tragic event happening to Joy was the best thing that could have happened! It’s the little things that have changed you know? Do not get me wrong, she still stomps around the house in the morning and lords over those eggs like they are going to jump out of the skillet. I do not think that will ever change. But other things have changed and all for the better, I might add. Joy has started accompanying us on our evening walks as of late. Not the whole walk mind you, she could never walk that far on her new prosthetic, but she is trying! She has also taken to sitting out back behind the house and writing in a red notebook and, just between me and you, I peeked over her shoulder the other day and lo and behold the girl is writing poetry. I never thought I would see it in my time. It looks funny to write it and not think it, but it seems that Joy is starting to try and locate a little joy for herself. She seems to have acquired this astute determination about her, this drive to find who she is on the inside. But that is not the best part: yesterday she had me go with her down to the schoolhouse so she could find out what she had to do to become a teacher. Can you believe it? She told me she wanted to teach the little ones how to read and write. Yep, things are looking up around the cedars if I do say so myself.

Before I forget to write it down I just wanted it on record that Manley Pointer, the “Bible salesman” from a few counties over that caused all this mess, is actually Flem Snopes, from Yoknapatawpha County, in Mississippi. Apparently, his Daddy had gotten into some trouble over there and got himself killed leaving Flem and the rest of his family to fend for themselves. Well, Ol’ Flem made his way over here to our neck of the woods and well, you know the rest. He was picked up over in Meriwether County a few days after leaving here for trying to steal Brother Wright’s fake eye and dentures. I tell you there are all kinds of people in this world.

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