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Flannery O'Connor's "The Life You Save May be Your Own"
Transcript of Flannery O'Connor's "The Life You Save May be Your Own"
Born in Savannah, Georgia, the only child of a Catholic family.
Acclaimed for her stories which combined comic with tragic and brutal.
Belongs to the Southern Gothic tradition that focused on the decaying South and its damned people.
O'Connor's body of work is small: 31 stories, 2 novels, and some speeches and letters.
Briefly famous for her pet chicken that could walk backwards.
Published her first short story at the age of 21.
Suffered her first attack from disseminated lupus in 1950.
From around 1955 O'Connor was forced to use crutches.
Died on August 3, 1964, at the age of 39. Author's Life • It is best to distrust any unknown person whom you encounter.
• Naivety can only be considered a negative characteristic that results in victimization.
• Hypocrisy is always intentional. Reaction statements Setting 1940's
Southern United States
Farm is disrepair 1941
• Japanese Attack Pearl Harbor
• Manhattan Project Begins
• Anne Frank Goes Into Hiding
• Battle of Midway
• Japanese-Americans Held in Camps
• FDR Dies
• Hitler Commits Suicide
• United Nations Founded
• U.S. Drops Atomic Bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki
• Bikinis Introduced
• Nuremberg Trials
• Winston Churchill Gives His "Iron Curtain" Speech
• "Big Bang" Theory Formulated
• Gandhi Assassinated
• Policy of Apartheid Begun
• State of Israel Founded
• China Becomes Communist
• NATO Established
• Soviet Union Has Atomic Bomb Historical Context Main Characters Lucynell Crater
Mr. Tom Shiftlet Static?
Conflict? Writer's Crafting Themes Critics say... Elements of Modernism Significant Passages Names Lucynell's surname, Crater, emphasizes the emptiness of her character; she is manipulative and only focused on finding a husband for her daughter--using whatever means she possesses.
Shiftlet's name suggests the word shiftless, meaning good-for-nothing, inefficient or lacking the resources needed to do something. "Where you come from, Mr. Shiftlet?"...A sly look came over his face. "Lady," he said, "nowadays, people'll do anything anyways. I can tell you my name is Tom T. Shiftlet and I come from Tarwater, Tennessee, but you never have seen me before: how you know I ain't lying? How you know my name ain't Aaron Sparks, lady, and I come from Singleberry, Georgia, or how you know it's not George Speeds and I come from Lucy, Alabama, or how you know I ain't Thompson Bright from Toolafalls, Mississippi?"
"I don't know nothing about you," the old woman muttered, irked. Irony
"Lady," he said slowly, "there's some men that some things mean more to them than money."
How does it work? Is it effective? Significant Passage . "Oh Lord!" he prayed. "Break forth and wash the slime from this earth!"
The turnip continued slowly to descend. After a few minutes there was a guffawing peal of thunder from behind and fantastic raindrops, like tin can tops, crashed over the rear of Mr. Shiftlet's car. Very quickly he stepped on the gas and with his stump sticking out the window he raced the galloping shower into Mobile. O'Connor's writng contains an enormous dose of symbolism and meaning amidst stories that flow seamlessly, never overtly suggesting the presence of a moral lesson. I agree that her stories are interesting and easy to read; however, there is always an unexpected ending that forces the reader to face the harshness of life without warning--how awakeningly refreshing. Search for the meaning of life?
Good vs. evil Writer's Crafting Grotesque Characters
Characterized by ludicrous or incongruous distortion, as of appearance or manner
Unexpected, strange or not fitting in this world Specific passage: The old woman was not impressed with the phrase. "I told you you could hang around and work for food," she said, "if you don't mind sleeping in that car yonder."
"Why listen, Lady," he said with a grin of delight, "the monks of old slept in their coffins!"...
He had not been around a week before the change he had made in the place was apparent. He had patched the front and back steps, built a new hog pen, restored a fence, and taught Lucynell, who was completely deaf and had never said a word in her life, to say the word "bird."
The big rosy‑faced girl followed him everywhere, saying "Burrttddt ddbirrrttdt," and clapping her hands. The old woman watched from a distance, secretly pleased. She was ravenous for a son‑in‑law. Modernism 1890-1940
Wistful desire to return to pre-War life
Concern with the loss of traditional values caused by world events; the “lost generation”
Chaos, uncertainty, fragmentation
“Age of the Short Story” popularity grew due to the the American temperament and growth of magazines
Writers weave together many voices and perspectives to tell nonlinear and fragmented narratives
Emphasize modern conditions of chaos and confusion
Unlike modernists, they don’t yearn for another time or try to make sense of the world; merely comment on the modern condition:
Every voice is valid (albeit unheeded)
Nothing is sacrosanct or secure