What Is Legal Is Morally Good

1706 words - 7 pages

In “The Life You Save May Be Your Own,” Flannery O’Connor uses Mr. Shiftlet to discuss moral intelligence in her story. Mr. Shiftlet the main character thinks of himself as a real man who has no flaws. Mr. Shiftlet displays elements of humanism and moral issues of good and evil. Humanism is the belief that human beings stress there needs and thinks only of rational ways to solve issues. Mr. Shiftlet talks about evil people to make him look better in the eyes of others. He doesn’t care about anyone else’s thought of opinions. He thinks he is doing the right thing by not stealing the car because he helps clean the Crater’s house, fixes the car, and teaches the deaf woman, Ms. Crater, how to say “bird.” He thinks everyone around him is corrupt and that he is the only one left in society that can help others and do the right thing in life. In “The Life You Save May Be Your Own” Mr. Shiftlet sees himself above the law, disregarding if he hurts others along the way.
Since Mr. Shiftlet sees himself above the law, he thinks he can act irresponsibly to others. Mr. Shiftlet thinks of himself above others, “He seemed to be a young man but he had a look of composed dissatisfaction as if he understood life thoroughly” (1). He is in denial that he has any flaws and presents himself to others as superior. Mr. Shiftlet has a chance to achieve peace with the world. He is alone with no friends, and is given the opportunity to work hard and live a quiet life. The chance of having a normal life begins when he sees two women on the porch. As he approaches them he turns his back to the sunset. When meeting the Crater’s he sees an old car that he wants. Mr. Shiftlet wants a car so he sets out to get it. He thinks he is a moral man, so he doesn’t want to do anything illegal. Instead he decides to help someone out in return for something else. He agrees to live on the farm in exchange for food and a shelter. Mr. Shiftlet is happy to sleep in the car, saying to Mrs. Crater, "the monks of old slept in their coffins” (2), and then she responds, "They wasn't as advanced as we are” (2). Mrs. Crater sees Mr. Shiftlet as someone who will make repairs around the place and who is a potential husband for her daughter. She offers to pay for the paint for the auto. Mr. Shiftlet takes the honeymoon money from her. Mr. Shiftlet makes several repairs around the place, teaches the deaf-mute daughter to speak a single word “bird,” and gains the trust of Mrs. Crater all in a week. After this progress he turns his full attention to his real goal, getting the car. When Mr. Shiftlet hears that the car doesn’t work he says, “Nothing is like it used to be, lady... The world is almost rotten” (1). Later, as he fixes the car, he comments that, "the trouble with the world was that nobody cared, or stopped and took any trouble”(2). Here Mr. Shiftlet thinks blaming others for the problems he faces will make him seem like a better person. He is unable to take any...

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