21W.041J Lecture 1: Discussion THE LIFE YOU SAVE MAY BE YOUR OWN

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Student-led Discussion: The Life You Save May Be Your Own by Flannery O'Connor
All of these stories have a shocking moment, a surprising turning point. Where exactly was this
moment in the story? Were you not surprised by certain parts of the plot? Take a minute to
discuss with your neighbor where you thought the pivotal moment was. Did anyone think it was
a different moment from their partner?
How would you describe the tone of this story?
What’s the relationship of comedy and tragedy in the story?
There is some very blatant symbolism in this story and many reoccurring themes
Colors
Black: Shiftlet’s suit, hair
Blue: Lucynell’s dress, eyes
White: Lucynell’s dress
Grey: the evening, the sky
Green and yellow: the car
Pink-gold: Lucynell’s hair
Speech
Shiftlet: jutting steeltrap jaw
Older Lucynell: she only raised her upper lip to indicate she had no teeth.
God-like figures
Shiftlet: his figure formed a crooked cross
He is a carpenter
Raising the dead: He had an expression of serious modesty on his face as if he had just
raised the dead.
Mr. Shiftlet performs a series of “resurrections” at the farm, patching the
front and back steps, building a new hog pen, restoring a fence, and teaching
Lucynell to speak.
Evil satanic imagery: In the darkness, Mr. Shiftlet's smile stretched like a weary snake
waking up by a fire.
The young boy: "You go to the devil!" he cried
Lucynell: “She looks like an angel of Gawd”
Innocence: The girl was nearly thirty but because of her innocence it was impossible to
guess.
The automobile
Associated with death:
“The day my husband died, it quit running”
Equated with a coffin
“He had an expression of serious modesty on his face as if he had just raised the dead.”
Caskets
The automobile is like a casket
Why use the word casket in this sentence? I wouldn't give her up for a casket of jewels
What is a man?
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