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The Life you Save May be Your Own (Study Guide)

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Jasmine Davis

on 28 May 2013

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Transcript of The Life you Save May be Your Own (Study Guide)

by Flannery O'Connor The Life you Save
May be Your Own
(Study Guide) Plot Summary Plot Summary (cont.) Character Description Tom Shiftlet- A gaunt man who is missing
one of his arms. His face is descended in his
forehead for more than half it's length. Through
the author, the audience is deceived into believing that Mr. Shiftlet is a good person at the beginning of the story. He tricks Mrs. Crater into giving him her car by marrying Lucynell. "The daughter sat down too and watched
him with a cautious sly look as if he were
a bird that had come up very close." This
literary device is a simile due to the fact that
O'Connory is comparing the daughter's rationale
for eying him so mysteriously to a bird that
has approached. "His left coat sleeve was folded up to show there was only half an arm in it and his gaunt figure listed slightly to the side as if the breeze were pushing him. He had on a black town suit and a brown felt hat that was turned up in the front and down in the back and he carried a tin tool box by a handle. He came on, at an amble, up her road, his face turned toward the sun which appeared to be balancing itself on the peak of a small mountain." This literary device is characterization. Shiftlet is brought to notice in strategic detail. "The Life you Save May be Your Own" is about a
man, named Tom Shiftlet, who comes across a farm
where an elderly woman, Mrs. Crater, and her deaf 30-year-old daughter, Lucynell, live. Tom Shiftlet is 28-years-old and is in dire need of food and a place to stay. He happens to have only one of his arms. During the course of Mrs. Crater's and Tom's conversation, she offers to let him work around the farm in exchange for food and shelter. Mrs. Crater
desperately wants Shiftlet to take her daughter's hand in marriage. Although he refysed to marry her at first, he finally tied the knot with Lucynell. They drive to their honeymoon in the 1929 Ford car that he had fixed around the farm. They stop at a diner where Shiftlet abandons his new wife. He tells the waiter that she is merely a hitchhiker. When Shiflet is about to leave the diner, the waiter tells him to "Drive Carefully" because "The life you save may be your own." Shiftlet kept his eyes open for hitchhikers and offers a boy a ride. He tries to make conversation with the young man and begins talking about his mother and how sweet she was. He refers to his mother as the same thing the waiter at the diner refereed to Shiftlet's wife as-- "An angel of Gawd." The boy replies by saying, "My old woman is a flea bag and yours is a
stinking pole cat!" Afterward, he jumped out of the car and fell into a ditch. Shiftlet was shocked by his actions and felt as though the world had gone rotten and that it was about to engulf him. He said, "Oh Lord! Break forth and wash the slime from this Earth!" before hastily driving into Mobile, Alabama. He had felt the rottenness of the world, which was what he had too become. Mrs. Crater- An elderly woman who lives with her disabled daughter. She has "long
pink-gold hair". She is tricked by Mr. Shiftlet. She often professes her love for her daughter but tries to get Mr. Shiftlet to marry her as well. Lucynell Crater- She is the daughter of Mrs. Crater.
She is deaf and has an important role in the story.
She is representational of innocence as she is
referred to as "an angel of God". The Hitchhiking Boy- He is a young man that Shiftlet picked
up on the side of the road after he abandoned his wife. He represents the slime or "badness" of the Earth that Shiftlet speaks of. Literary Devices "He said that a man had to escape to the country to see the world whole and that he wished he lived in a desolate place like this where he could see the sun go down every evening like God made it to do." This literary device is an allusion. It alludes to
a biblical story. Literary Device (cont.) THEME A major theme in the short story is
the weather because it is a crucial indicator in the mood and the way the character is feeling. "Deep in the sky a storm was preparing very slowly and without thunder as if it meant to drain every drop of air from the Earth before it broke." This is what the weather suddenly changed to after Shiftlet abandoned his wife at the diner. Major Symbol The car is a symbol within the short story. It has not ran in 15 years and it represents the possibility of being able to run again. "Drive carefully. The life you save may be your own" was a quote that was warranted by the car and carries a lot of validity considering it is the title of the short story. VOCABULARY VANITY Desolate- deserted of people and in a state of bleak and and dismal emptiness.
Part of speech: Adjective
If something tragic happens to him, he will become desolate and depressed.

Tramp- a person who travels form place to place on foot in search of work or as a vagrant or beggar.
Part of speech: Noun
The tramp went from town to town as he desperately looked for work. Vocabulary Vanity Gaunt- thin and bony; angular.
Part of speech: adjective.
Due to his new found illness, he began to be gaunt and his face looked more and more lifeless each day.

Afflicted- to inflict grievous physical or mental suffering on something.
Part of Speech: verb.
The girl afflicted a lot of pain on her brother once she began to learn some of the karate moves that he once used on her. VOCABULARY VANITY Jutting- extend out, over, or beyond the main body or line of something.
Part of speech: verb.
The pier juts out from the water.

Guffawing- the act of laughing heartily or boisterously.
Part of Speech: verb.
I have a habit of guffawing at the most miniscule things. HISTORICAL
SIGNIFICANCE "The Life you Save May be Your Own" is set in the American south. O'Connor explores themes of morality and religion. It takes place during the 1950's. The protagonist must choose between the extremities of the world and the chance to experience God's gracious love. Study Guide by
Jasmine Davis
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