August 6, 2012
The Life You Save May Be Your Own
The protagonist in “The Life You Save May Be Your Own” is Mr. Shiftlet. This man encounters an older woman and her daughter; both named Lucynell Crater. Their first conversation is very awkward, but the reader can interpret the characters. Mr. Shiftlet is a one armed man who left home at a young age. Lucynell (mother) is an older widowed woman who is independent and protective of her daughter. The younger Lucynell (daughter) is a deaf girl with a mental handicap. She is intrigued by a man working around the house and follows him around all day. He seems to be a respectful man to these ladies, but he is in need of validation that there is some good in this world. Mr. Shiftlet could have used Mrs. Crater’s hospitality and marriage proposal as a chance for him to change his outlook on the world, but he has alternative motives. He develops this strong misanthropic view of the world after he leaves his mother as a child, and he now has the chance to find grace and a new life with Mrs. Lucynell Crater's offer.
Mr. Shiftlet appears to be a good man at first glance. He looks to be an honest noble nomad who does not have any money, but does not seem to be the least afflicted by it. He is disenchanted by society and even says “’ [n]othing is like it used to be, lady’…’the world is almost rotten’” (O’Connor, pg 53). He makes the audience believe that he is a decent man trying to find some good in this world. So, why would a man who is disgusted by the way people act, contribute to his theory instead of trying to make the world a better place? He makes mention that the problem with the world is that no one takes the time to be patient and nobody cares about the issues, but thankfully he is not one of those people and he took the time to teach Miss Crater the word bird. He is a dishonest man. In reality, he is not the man that he is pretending to be. He is a deceitful...