The Life You Save May Be Your Own: Antithesis to a Fairy Tale

Topics: Fairy tale, Flannery O'Connor, Fiction Pages: 3 (1034 words) Published: November 13, 2006
Nostalgic finales just seem too good to be real with the quaint happy endings that typically conclude fairy tales; not with Flannery O'Connor's writings, which depict sarcasm with disquieting twists and mordant characters. One of O'Connor's most successful works, "The Life You Save May Be Your Own" epitomizes her writing style that is characteristically seen by many as grotesque and sardonic. This short story represents the antithesis of a fairy tale, ingeniously warping its vital elements—damsel in distress (Lucynell, the daughter), the mother (Mrs. Lucynell Crates), and knight in shining armor (Mr. Shiftlet)—to make its readers see the latent malevolence of all human beings. Utilizing a keen consideration on each fictional component in the story, O'Connor conveys her message effectively by contrasting hideousness against pulchritude. She makes effectual use of liars to demonstrate the truth. O'Connor's deep perspective is evident in the way she inflicts ruthless challenges to the characters in the story. The damsel in distress of this story in no way exemplifies a charming lady typical of any fairy story. If anyone is asked to delineate the female protagonist of any story, one may picture a girl with long blonde hair with dreamy blue eyes that project an angelic presence. An angelic quality is perhaps the only positive trait that Lucynell possesses. Albeit overall Lucynell does not possess a character that one wishes to be portrayed as, this character remains the only trace of purity and redemption in the story. As adverse as Lucynell's naïveté may be, one will be culpable of betraying such sort of innocence. This is the reason that Shiftlet's desertion of Lucynell makes him guilty for conning the trust of an innocent woman. Thus, O'Connor attempts to admonish every young naïve lady of her inherent vulnerability that presents an opportunity of being taken advantage of by any deceptive, malicious person. As a message to every woman, O'Connor conveys the...

Cited: O 'Connor, Flannery. "The Life You Save May Be Your Own." The Realm of Fiction: Seventy-Four Stories. Ed. James B. Hall and Elizabeth C. Hall. New York: McGraw, 1987. 488-489.
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