Life You Save May Be Your Own Literary Analysis

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Reading through Flannery O’Connor’s “The Life You Save May Be Your Own”, you may notice some recurring themes, imagery, and symbolism. These recurring themes, imagery, and symbols include things like; religious undertones, using a color relate to another theme or idea, the imagery and idea of rotten and decrepit things. Rotten imagery is a very prominent repeating detail in this story and is not simply shown by the use of psychical things being rotten but, also character’s personalities. The idea of rottenness is a key concept and aspect for understanding of the theme and story overall. The story wastes no time showcasing rottenness and deceptiveness in the actions and morals of the characters. Mr. Shiftlet, a man of questionable morals…show more content…
Some of the more obvious and noticeable examples of rotten imagery include things like the farmhouse itself, the land it sits on, the car, etc. Continuing to read and analyze the story and it’s characters, it is hard to not notice the rottenness of the character’s morals and intentions. For example, Mr. Shiftlet is finally able to achieve some grace by working for Mrs. Crater and her daughter. It is easy to assume due to his drifting from city to city and small town to small town that Mr. Shiftlet has no real friends or family. Working for Mrs. Crater could have been easily been a chance for him to have a consistent place to live, have food to eat, and live a quiet and peaceful life but instead he allows his less than honorable moral compass direct him to lie to, cheat, and more or less steal from Mrs. Crater and LucyNell by lying to Mrs. Crater and making a deal to marry her daughter in exchange for the car and a paid for wedding with no intentions of remaining married to LucyNell, and later leaving a severely mentally handicapped woman abandoned and stranded in a diner in a random town. While Mr.Shiftlet is obviously a man of very rotten morals, Mrs. Crater is not innocent either. She shows her low-moral fiber by her desire to rid herself of her mentally handicapped daughter by pawning her off to a man that she has only known for a relatively short period of time. When examining the writing itself, there are metaphors and similes as well as some comments that speak on the world being rotten as a whole. For example, when Mr. Shiftlet is talking with Mrs. Crater and says that “... The world is almost rotten” This is an obvious use of irony that calls to attention Mr. Shiftlet’s rottenness by trying to seem righteous and condemn the world for its moral failings while he
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