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The Analysis Of The Characters In “The Life You Save May Be Your Own”

795 words - 3 pages

There are two ways to see life, “the condition that distinguishes animals and plants from inorganic matter, including the capacity for growth, reproduction, functional activity, and continual change preceding death” or “the existence of an individual human being or animal”. These definitions give the coldest and most cynical view of life, but overlook the emotions of human life. The drive and need that pumps through human blood. The seven deadly sins that taunt the human mind to do as it pleases not as it should. Flannery O’Connor, the author of “The Life You Save May Be Your Own”, knew the idea of human life beyond just existing. Three of her characters; Tom Shiftlet, Mrs. Lucynell Crater, and the daughter also named Lucynell Crater, show the true meaning of human life.
Tom Shiftlet, the traveler, exposes the meaning of life by his turning back to get Lucynell after he leaves her at the restaurant. It is obvious that Shiflet’s name is symbolic by portraying a shifty person. This portrayal is understandable because he shows up in the story with an ominous air about him. He shows up in front of the old country house, he is described as a twenty-eight year old man who has lost a part of his arm. His description in itself begins to tell the story of a life, however that life is obviously not one that anyone would wish to live. Shiftlet then says he will work for food, not money, and proceeds to impress Lucynell and she eventually offers her daughter to Shiftlet. He proceeds to win over both women and ends up marrying Lucynell. Then we realize the only reason that he was there was to get the automobile for himself, he then proceeds to dump off Lucynell with a creepy man who is petting her hair while she sleeps(I like to call him Lenny), then, as Shiftlet tries to leave her behind he turns back to save her from the man. However by saving the girl he saves himself by showing his first act of selflessness.
Mrs. Lucynell Crater, the mother, shows her life through her ambition to fill the void in her life. She is an old woman who lives with her mentally handicapped daughter, also named Lucynell Carter, with "long pink-gold hair and eyes as blue as a peacock's neck" and no teeth. She is tricked into giving Tom...

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