1. The South is the setting for all of O'Connor's stories. What portrait of the South emerges? Consider minor characters, the South in transition, the myth of the Southern genteel lady as contrasted with the suburban housewife or Mrs. Freeman and Mrs. Crater.
The South that Flannery O'Connor describes in all of her stories is a South of truth. In "Everything that Rises Must Converge," Julian's mother is forced to deal with the transition of the South from her childhood's image of her wealthy, politically-connected South. Her digression from the true Southern genteel lady is met with the contrasting epitome of the Southern lady in the character of the grandmother in "A Good Man is Hard to Find;" the grandmother actually wears her Sunday's best on a trip that she assumes will kill her, simply because she would like to be recognized as a lady if she were to die.
The ignorance of the grandmother is matched by the ignorance of Mrs. Crater in "The Life You Save may be Your Own," because both women superficially possess the qualities of a proper lady, but both are ungenerous hosts and utterly selfish human beings. The many ladies of O'Connor's works give proof to the myth of the perfect housewife of the South as being nothing more than that, an ignorant myth.
2. Compare Tom Shiftlet in "The Life You Save may be Your Own" with Manly Pointer in "Good Country People." Often in O'Connor, disruptive forces like Shiftlet and Pointer paradoxically jolt their victims to spiritual renewal. Do both these characters serve in this function?
The entrance of both Mr. Tom Shiftlet and Mr. Manly Pointer in these two stories are very religiously denoted. Shiftlet is a carpenter like Jesus Christ and creates a cross...