Alright, Emeraldblade95. Now that Harry Powell and Rachel Cooper have contrasting pages on the Heroes and Villains Wikis, I had previously stated that I had plans to give the two of them separate Pure Good and Evil proposals on the wikis. And since this is the Heroes Wiki, you could probably guess which one I'll be doing here. There are quite a bit of reasons I fell like Miss Cooper has potential to be Pure Good.
What Has She Done?
She's the kindly, warmhearted, and benevolent old matriarch of a group of orphaned kids who protects them from being homeless in the Great Depression and other forms of harm including from Harry Powell. The audience doesn't find out much about Rachel's early life or past general, although it was vaguely recommended that she had once lived a sinful life, which don't get to hear about. We know that Cooper's a widow who had a mysterious estrangement from her son. She wanted to make up for her sinful actions of her past and would mostly renounce her previous ways. She took action during the Great Depression in gathering three orphaned and/or homeless children and bringing them into her house for shelter, serving as the savior of these orphans of the storm and basically a mother hen.
After, John and Pearl's widowed mother gets murdered by Harry Powell and the latter finds out about $10,000 being hidden in Pearl's doll (long story(, he'd ruthlessly and dedicatedly chase the kids down intending to kill them and steal the money from Pearl's doll. They'd escape on a rowboat and eventually get saved by Miss Cooper. She'd take them into her farmhouse with hesitation, and scrubs them clean in an outdoor tub offering to take care of them. John's reasonably doesn't trust her initially, but Pearl quickly adjusts to her.
In the evenings, Rachel would usually tells the kids Bible stories such as the Pharaoh story - of baby Moses in the bulrushes being saved from those who kill children. One Thursday evening, Ruby -- the oldest child on the farm -- is given permission to go to town, presumably for sewing lessons. During one of her visits in the local drugstore, Ruby reveals her generous and charming benefactor -- who was actually Powell -- who is told that John and Pearl were on the farm, and they had the doll with them.
Ruby quickly senses she had messed up, and confesses to Miss Cooper that evening that she had lied about her whereabouts snuck around with the boys in town, and admits she spoke to a Preacher about John and Pearl. Rachel comforts her and then her, expressing her tender concern that Ruby grow up properly guided and protected from making regretful mistakes.
The next day, Powell comes riding up to Mrs. Cooper's front gate, claiming that he is looking for his lost children, Pearl and John. He dramatically overplays his search for them. While Pearl and John are being summoned, he begins his tale of "LOVE" and "HATE," but she cuts him off. She is immediately suspicious and instantly sees through him, when he tells her that the children have run away from Cincinnati, down the river. She knows that they floated downstream. When John and Pearl appear, John turns cold toward his "father". When Cooper asks him what was wrong, he tells her about the reality of his psychotic step-father, conforming her suspicions of Powell being a fraud. Powell tries to snatch Pearl's doll on the ground, but John grabs it first and dives under the front porch. Powell brandishes his deadly switchblade and crawls in after the boy. When he feels something tapping him on the back, he looks up into the shiny barrel of Rachel's shotgun, as she orders him off the property. As he retreats to his horse and rides off, chased away by the muzzle of her shotgun, he defiantly curses that would return when it was dark.
Sure enough Powell lurks outside the farm house that night, to lay siege, singing his rendition of "Leaning on the Everlasting Arms" while waiting for her to fall asleep. In silhouette, Rachel appears sitting in a rocking chair on the screened-in porch with the shotgun across her lap to battle against him with her own vigil. Rachel counters his song, defiantly and harmoniously singing the authentic version of the Protestant religious hymn with a spiritual reference to Jesus: "Lean on Jesus, lean on Jesus," filling in the words that he has chosen to leave out in a simultaneous duet. Suddenly, the preacher vanishes.
Rachel would then summon the children to gather in the kitchen. As an owl sweeping down and attacking a defenseless rabbit, Rachel observes, thinking of small creatures and children as well. She lines the five children up as she marches back and forth in front of them with her shotgun, telling them the Bible story of the Massacre of the Innocents - King Herod's massacre of babies to kill the promised Messiah. When she sees Powell's shadow inside the house in the living room, and his voice quering, she sends the children to safety upstairs, cocks her shotgun, aims, and asks: "What do you want?" Powell's voice is heard in the darkness as he commands to have the kids. When she warns that she will shoot after counting to three, he pops up right in front of her. She blasts him with her shotgun, after which he runs out of the house, yelping, shrieking and howling like a madman and wounded wolf, while grabbing his behind. Apparently, he is not badly hurt, but actually been wounded in the shoulder. Then, Rachel phones the State Troopers to come and arrest the Preacher.
In the kitchen the next morning, she tells John that children are mankind at its strongest. Sirens sound and the police arrive, dragging out wounded Harry Powell and arresting him for the murder of Willa Harper. As they throw him to the ground and start to handcuff him, John remembers the traumatic last time he saw his natural, 'good' father when he was arrested, and he reacts similarly to the arrest of his 'evil' stepfather. He clutches his stomach in pain then, he grabs Pearl's doll from her hands, rushes over to the policeman, and pummels and flogs the head of his captured and arrested father over and over again with the limp female doll. John screams out as the hidden/stolen money flies out of the ripped doll's body to fall at the feet of his stepfather. He has discovered that money isn't important enough anymore to justify their suffering. John collapses, and is gently carried inside by Rachel.
A trial scene follows, attended by the Spoons and other neighbors who have come to town for the event. The experience on the witness stand is too much for John - he is unable (or refuses) to testify. But Powell is still sentenced to be hanged for all the women he has killed. Rachel takes the children to a nearby restaurant, where they witness the formation of a lynch mob led by the Spoons, claiming that the children are the ones that Powell sinned against and wronged. To protect her wards from the temptations and violence of the physical world, Rachel steers her flock of children clear of the axe-wielding mob. She marches through town like a mother quail with her young scurrying behind. Rachel retrieves Ruby from outside the jail, where the young girl has gone because she mistakenly thinks the mob is going to free the Preacher - and she wants to help. She protests against Rachel. The children follow after Rachel in single-file down the street. Powell is led out the side door of the jail by the police, to be taken away in a car to the penitentiary for his execution.
During Christmas time, in the safety and security of Rachel's matriarchal care, the children present gifts of homemade potholders to her. Having no money or gift, but wishing to give something to Rachel, John sneaks into the living room, wraps an apple in a lace doily serviette, and gives it to her. She admires it and thanks him. Ruby is given a pretty brooch by Rachel - it is an object that acknowledges her need to feel pretty and adult.
This one's an rather interesting case. We don't get to find out much about this in the film proper, but some lines of dialogue from her suggest she had once lived apart from the goodness she engenders. She would sometimes speaks cryptically of her estrangement from her son. Although considering this barely affects her actions in the overall story, it's not enough to be truly considered a corrupting factor. Plus she seems to be looking after her adoptive kids as a way to make up for her previous actions. All in all, this just demonstrates that she's a better person than most of the other adults in the film. She knows she did something wrong and now she's trying to make it right, and she doesn't deny her sins.
She doesn't really have a lot of corrupting factors to speak of. She may occasionally be strict or stern with one of her adoptive kids, but she still means well and wants what's best for them and their safety and protection. She also has a shotgun, but only uses it when she has to, and only on truly despicable people. *cough* Powell *cough* Take the scene were Ruby confesses that she has been lying about her whereabouts and sneaking around with the boys in town, and gave Harry Powell the information he needed to hunt John and Pearl down. Rather than get angry at Ruby, Rachel consoles and absolves her, expressing her tender concern that Ruby grow up properly guided and protected from making regretful mistakes.
Even though, Mrs. Cooper doesn't officially turn up until the final act, the level of her performance and several aspects of her personality and loyalty shown onscreen, it was enough to make Cooper pass the admirable standard. Although she'd probably be a "Seriously Good" due to how seriously she's taken in the narrative.
Simply put, she's everything Harry Powell's not. While both of them are posed as religious Preachers of the Christian faith in a sense (and both often quote scripture), Powell (despite his superficial charm and good looks) embodies the darkest aspects of Christian fanaticism in the form of his serial killer ways, while Ms. Cooper (despite her rougher exterior) embodies the light in Christianity in how she protects children from harm. Powell goes marrying a horde of widowed women from the Great Depression, only to murder them and steal their property? Miss Cooper, took action during the Great Depression gathering up homeless and miserable orphans and runaways and bringing them into her home shelter, and feeding them, serving as the savior of these orphans of the storm. Cooper is kindly, warmhearted, benevolent and super brave, while Powell is nasty, coldhearted, malevolent and sometime brave but mostly a coward.
She has seen enough of life to account for the Harry Powells of the world, while Harry has no real conception of purity except as something he must annihilate. Rachel is as immaculate as Harry is depraved; she lives by the Scriptures and knows them well enough to recognize when they are being fouled. As a result, she's instantly able to see through Powell's fake religion claims and wastes no time in shooing him off, and preventing him from harming any of the kids. Want further proof? Look no further than this standout scene.
It's all up to you guys now. Let me know if you that Miss Cooper should be pure good.