In the Desert...

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"You'd be getting a perment house and a deep well and the most innocent girl in the world. You don't need no money" (O'Connor, "The Life You Save May Be Your Own" p.57).

This passage reminded me of New Testament of when Christ walked in the desert for forty days.  During that time, Christ was tempted by Satan to use his godly powers in wrong ways.  In addition, Satan promised Jesus that if he gave into the Devil's demands, Christ would inherit the whole Earth.  In that same way, Mr. Shiftlet (Jesus) is tempted by the old mother (Satan) to give in to her offer to marry Lucynell.  Here comes the twist: Shiftlet actually gives in to her demand!  A classic example of subversion if there ever was one.

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3 Comments

There are quite a few references to Jesus in this story. What's Mr. Shiftlet's profession?

Shiftlet appears to give in, but he has his own plans. Look carefully at what Shiftlet's interested in when he arrives on the farm.

Richelle Dodaro said:

I also saw an allusion to religion in this story, but I wasn't sure what it was. This is true thought that Mr. Shiftlet refers to Jesus and the old woman to Satan. I think the reason Mr. Shiftlet gave in is simple: he is purely human and is not the God incarnate.

Great analysis, Ethan. I originally thought that Shiftlet was the devil, Lucynell the daughter was an angel, and the mother was somewhere inbetween. But your entry does have a good argument, so now I am seeing the story in a different perspective. Very interesting analysis.

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Lauren Miller on In the Desert...: Great analysis, Ethan. I orig
Richelle Dodaro on In the Desert...: I also saw an allusion to reli
Dennis G. Jerz on In the Desert...: There are quite a few referenc