“The Life You Save May Be Your Own” by Flannery O’Connor Essay
“The Life You Save May Be Your Own” by Flannery O’Connor
1.Explain the significance of the name Shiftlet. The name Crater.
Shiftlet suggests he is a sketchy character or that he will change. Crater is an empty space or hole, indicating that she is in want/need of something
2.Underline any positive references to nature. Explain the significance of these references. At what point in the story does nature change/darken? Why? Nature begins as a beautiful sunset that represents Shiftlet as a possible good person. As the car becomes a possible item for him to obtain, nature darkens until he leaves Lucynell in the diner and the storm comes to indicate his lost redemption.
3.Identify and explain any allusions to Jesus Christ.
The carpenter occupation, the crooked cross in the sun, raising the car from the dead; all of these references suggest Shiftlet is a good character who is capable of redemption
4.Why does O’Connor include Shiftlet’s explanation about the doctor in Atlanta? This is an indication of comparing formal education to natural instincts. Nature vs Nurture. The story addresses the theme of a man in search of the meaning of life and the open heart is a metaphor for this theme. He cannot know the meaning of life.
5.Why does Shiftlet compare the car to the spirit?
He makes several references to the car and the potential it holds The car is a temptation to the spirit and a spirit at ease/peace does not need to keep moving or wandering. He is telling Mrs. Crater that he is NOT the man she thinks he is.
6.Why does Shiftlet feel “the rottenness of the world about to engulf him”? Shiftlet makes an anguished plea to God to take him away. He is what is rotten in the world and the impending thunder is a symbol of his missed opportunity for redemption.
7.Explain the significance of the title of the story. Where is it referenced in the story? Why? A sign warning about driving. Significant because he is driving his temptation away from his redemption. Title is a motif of salvation/redemption. It applies to both Shiftlet and Crater to warn them to seek change before being left morally bankrupt.
Shiftlet begins as a man in search of something in life and believes he can find it in the car/wedding gift. But he chooses to continue wandering and abandons Lucynell who represents atonement. Mrs. Crater lures Shiftlet into her home to gain his services as a carpenter and potential suitor for her daughter and in turn loses
Subject: Human nature,
University/College: University of California
Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter
Date: 17 February 2017
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