The Life you save may be your Own

Essay by izzyowensUniversity, Bachelor'sB+, October 2014

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The inability to overcome physical or emotional temptation flaws all humans to some extent, but what make an individual morally reprehensible? In O'Connor's story "The Life You Save May Be Your Own" she paints a complex and elegant answer to the question. Every character in the story has a physical impairment lending to the idea of outward deformities being metaphors for emotional inadequacy. Mr. Tom T. Shiflet lacks the most physically therefore craves the semblance of completeness, but during the process sacrificed moral fortitude. Chekov said, "In the sphere of psychology, details are also things" (2204). The general description does not give the full picture of Mr. Shiflet, but rather the small details guide the reader to conclude that he is morally weak. Moral weakness does not happen suddenly. Small details soon become an insatiable need to feel consummated.

Mr. Shiftlet's struggle with knowing he is a morally tarnished man but trying to make up for it with deeds and good works.

At first we believe that Mr. Shiftlet is a decent man. Mr. Shiflet' "rooting in his pants pocket, and in a second brought out a package of chewing gum and offered her a piece [Lucynell]" (224). Although small Mr. Shiftlet shows kindness to Lucynell without seeming to want anything in return. He also stays and helps rejuvenate the farm, even though Mrs. Crater directly said, "'I'll be able to feed you and give you a place to sleep but I can't pay"' (225). Mr. Shiftlet still looks like a morally upright man. He even goes to say, "'I got moral intelligence"' (226). Implying he knows the difference between right and wrong, and act on values the he believes are right. The trouble with moral intelligence is that it is up for interpretation. Mr. Shiftlet soon...