Even though the story as it now stands appears to focus on the attempts of two equally unscrupulous characters to gain an advantage over the other, O'Connor, through the use of color imagery and somewhat obvious symbolism, manages to make the story more than merely a humorous tale. Yet it is the humor, ultimately, which first catches the attention of most readers. Some of O'Connor's humor is similar, at least in part, to the tradition of such Old Southwest humorists as Johnson J. Hooper and George W.
Yet it is the humor, ultimately, which first catches the attention of most readers. Hooper and George W. These swapping session scenes are also reminiscent of the Armsted-Snopes exchanges in the fiction of William Faulkner.
The basic plot of the story is very simple. One evening, near sunset, Tom T. Shiftlet shiftless or shifty arrives at the desolate and bedraggled farmhouse of Mrs. Lucynell Crater emptiness or void and her nearly thirty-two-year-old, deaf-mute daughter, also named Lucynell.
During a conversation which allows each of the major characters to size one another up, Shiftlet, who spies an old automobile which he desires, agrees to stay on the farm in exchange for food and a place to sleep.
Shiftlet is delighted to be able to sleep in the car, commenting to Mrs. Crater, in making her offer, sees Shiftlet as someone who at the least will make repairs around the place and who, at best, is a potential husband for her daughter.
Within a week, Shiftlet has made numerous repairs around the place, has taught the deaf-mute daughter to speak a single word — bird — and, to a certain extent, has gained the trust of Mrs.
He then turns his attention to the real object of his affection, the car. Crater even tells Shiftlet that the girl is only sixteen or seventeen. When Shiftlet succeeds in resurrecting the car, much to the delight of Lucynell, who, sitting on a crate, stamps her feet and screams, "Burrdttt!
Crater for all he can get. Crater, "ravenous for a son-in-law," offers a mortgage-free farm with "a well that never runs dry" and a warm house in winter; in addition, she will even pay for paint for the auto. Shiftlet, now triumphant, extracts honeymoon money from her — first, fifteen dollars; then, seventeen-fifty — and the bargain is struck.
On the following Saturday, Shiftlet and the daughter are married while Mrs. Crater acts as witness. Leaving a somewhat distressed Mrs.
Crater at the farm, the couple begin their honeymoon. About a hundred miles from the farm, he stops and abandons the sleeping Lucynell at a diner called The Hot Spot, telling the counter attendant that she is only a hitchhiker and that he needs to "make Tuscaloosa," a destination in the center of the state while Mobile is on the coast, at the extreme south edge of the state.
Perhaps somewhat depressed by his actions, and somehow influenced by the road signs which announce, "Drive carefully. The life you save may be your own," Shifilet, feeling that "a man with a car had a responsibility to others," stops and picks up a young boy who is hitchhiking.
Evidently convinced that the boy has run away from home, Shiftlet begins to extol the virtues of his "old mother" whom he supposedly left. Briefly shocked, Shiftlet offers up a short prayer and then races an approaching shower into Mobile.
If one examines those elements as they are used in this story, it becomes, as we have said, more than a humorous tale; it becomes a comment on at least one of the ways by which man may separate himself from the Divine order of things.
We note that Shiftlet arrives at the farm wearing a black suit and a brown hat. Black has traditionally been viewed as a symbol of physical death and of the underworld, while brown is associated with spiritual death and degradation.
Gray, the color of the hats of Mrs. Crater and the young hitchhiker, as well as of the turnip-shaped cloud which descends over the sun at the end of the story, has been variously associated with neutralization, egoism, depression, inertia, and indifference.
While the hat is the only item of Mrs.This warning was on a sign on the road. Mr. Shiftlet saved his own life by sacrificing / ending Lucynell's life.
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English Test. Transcript of "The Life You Save May Be Your Own" literary analysis. "The Life You Save May Be Your Own" literary analysis. Characters heartoftexashop.comet- one armed con man, with silk black hair, who's good with his hand and manipulation heartoftexashop.com- an old, toothless woman, willing to do anything to have her daughter off her hands.
Critics recognized the importance of "The Life You Save May Be Your Own" immediately after it was published in the literary journal Kenyon Review in the spring of That year the story was included in the annual collection of exemplary short fiction published to honor the memory of the short story writer O.
Henry. Home Study Guides Flannery O'Connor's Stories "The Life You Save May Be Your Own" Summary and Analysis Flannery O'Connor's Stories by Flannery O'Connor.
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Summary. Madison Holle Dr. Chalaire American Lit II March 19 th, Reading Journal 6: The Life You Save May Be Your Own “The Life You Save May Be Your Own” is a short story written by Flannery O'Connor, published in %(4).
The Life You Save May Be Your Own Literary Devices Imagery Symbolism Simile Archetype-"[Shiftlet] swung both his whole and his short arm up slowly so that they indicated an expanse of sky and his figure formed a crooked cross.".