O’Conner portrays Mr. Shiftlet very vaguely at the beginning of the story, but she tells readers a few facts about him that are vital to understanding who Tom really is. Mr. Shiftlet comes with an open heart to the Crater’s residence. He admires their home and is willing to work if they let him stay. This reveals that Tom is a hard working man. Although he seems to have an overly keen interest in their automobile, which seems suspicious, he makes an effort to make life easier for Lucynell Sr. and Jr. He even takes the time to Teach Lucynell Jr. a word. Up until this point he seems genuinely happy making them happy. Once Mrs. Crater starts trying to force tom to marry her daughter, he starts becoming uncomfortable with the situation. He even tries to go on as if nothing had happened and keep living as they were, but that does not work and Mrs. Crater keeps forcing it upon him. The most important fact that is revealed about Tom is that he is extremely unhappy with his life. Readers know that he ran away from his mother when he was younger and that he now regrets it very much. He also ends up running away from Mrs. Crater when she started to try to control him. This suggests that Tom is not very fond of people controlling him. And although he continually runs away he is very unhappy with the decisions that he has made over the course of the years but instead of standing his ground and fixing his problems and himself, he runs away. Mr. Shiftlet introduces himself as a carpenter to Mrs. Carter and has a tin box to prove it. He seems, however, very hesitant to tell her anything else about himself since whenever she asked him a question, “he didn't answer” (977). He promptly proves his worth the next morning when “he began on the roof of the garden house” (978). “He had not been around a week before the change he had made was apparent. He had patched the front and back steps, built a new hog pen, and restored a fence” (978-9). The question most readers would ask is...
Bibliography: O’Conner, Flannery. "The Life You Save May Be Your Own." One World of Literature. Boston:Houghton Mifflin, 1993. 975-984.Print.
Please join StudyMode to read the full document