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A Legitimate Shiftlet: A Complex Character Often Misunderstood

1269 words - 6 pages

I believe that Mr.Shiftlet, the character from the story “The Life You Save May Be Your Own” by Flannery O’Conner is an innocent, truthful, and honest man. Although there are many misconceptions towards Mr.Shiftlet, this is mainly due to his complex character. My first example is as Mr.Shiftlet enters the story. At first he appears to the reader as innocent and pitiful. He shows an emotion to the reader as him being portrayed as helpless, innocent, and as a cripple. Mr.Shiftlet later questions Mrs. Crater why she trusts him stating, “…you never have seen me before: how you know I ain’t lying?” again appealing to his innocent appearance. Mr.Shiftlet’s helpless and pitiful character shows those around him believing that he is trustworthy. Another example is that as he is first led off his religious course by the thought that the car would be his ultimate passage to spiritual freedom. He compares the spirit to a car starting “the like an automobile: always on the move.” This supports Mr.Shiftlet complex character because all of Mr.Shiftlet’s actions were specifically put to help himself, or in other words, to obtain the vehicle, as another action of just simply using his resources. A complex character once again expressed in the text, yet this time through his guilt. In the story it relates that Mr.Shiftlet searches for one last chance of redemption. Mr.Shiftlet knew that a man with a car has his responsibilities, so that’s why he gave the boy a lift. This act of kindness was a chance for Mr.Shiftlet to feel better about his mistakes. Once again, I believe that there are many misconceptions towards Mr.Shiftlet actions due to his complex character.
Mr.Shiftlet is caring in numerous ways. One of the examples that show that Mr.Shiftlet is caring is that he helped fix many of Mrs. Crater’s damaged items around the place. The garden roof, one of the many things that Mr.Shiftlet repaired was indeed for Mrs. Crater. This shows that Mr.Shiftlet is a kind and caring man, because he repaired many things for free. If Mr.Shiftlet didn’t care about his surroundings then he wouldn’t have even dared to look at anything broken or useless. Yet as a kind and caring man he fixed the roof of the garden not for his, but for Mrs. Craters benefit. There are many other kind gestures that Mr.Shiftlet is involved in, but this is just one of those kind and caring acts that Mr.Shiftlet does for the benefits of others.
Besides generosity, Mr.Shiftlet’s character in general is also being portrayed here. My reason being is because he has done something extraordinary that no one else has ever done before. Mr.Shiftlet taught Lycenell how to say the word “bird”. Yet again not for his own benefit, but for hers instead. This is very important because Mr.Shiftlet had taught a thirty year old woman to say her first word. Bird is the word that was taught to Lycenell who apparently is completely deaf and now had learned to say her first word, “bird”. Mr.Shiftlet’s character...

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