Angels at wayside diners and devils walkin' the roads

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""She looks like an angel of Gawd,' he murmured. 'Hitch-hiker,' Mr. Shiftlet explained. 'I can't wait. I got to make Tuscaloosa.'" (O'Connor, pg. 60)

Why would you leave an angel alone at a roadside diner, even if she was simple in the head, turn around and pick up another hitch-hiker that would ultimately scar you? Sometimes we fail to realize the good things that are right in front of us because we're too busy focused on a point far ahead. Mr. Shiftlet never realized just how good a deal he had while living with the old woman and her daughter. All he could think about was that car, the item that would take him to somewhere better, at least he thought. He left Lucynell asleep at a foreign diner, left, and picked up a boy on down the road. "He felt too that a man with a car had a responsibility to others and he kept his eye out for a hitch-hiker." (pg. 60) What about the people that started out in the car with you? Well, things didn't turn out so well for Mr. Shiftlet in the end. His illusions were shattered as he was yelled at by a boy who obviously had a terrible mother (at least from his point of view). It is shortly after this that Mr. Shiftlet cries out to God to wash the slime from the earth (meaning the boy) and instead is chased by a rain cloud that we don't even know if he ever escaped. It just goes to show that you should be careful what ya wish for 'cause it might turn out the way you expect it to and that you should be thankful for what you've now, not what you may have one day.

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3 Comments

Angela Palumbo said:

That was a great observation. I did not really realize that he asked God to wash the slime from the earth and then the storm started chasing him. Mr. Shiftlet actually starts as a Christ-like figure in the play. First, his silhouette looks like a cross and then he told the old woman that he was a carpenter. What Flannery O’Connor meant by this was to create a false prophet. Think about it. Mr. Shiftlet talks the talk of a good person and does not walk the walk. For example, he says, “Lady…there’s some men that some things mean more to them than money,” but then he later cons the old woman into giving him seventeen-fifty for a trip (up from the original fifteen dollars). He also picks-up (as you mentioned) the hitch-hiker because he felt “that a man with a car had a responsibility to others” but he clearly just left his wife! He just picked up one hitch-hiker who he had no moral obligation to while possibly creating another hitch-hiker. Mr. Shiftlet wants to believe that he is a good person. This is why he says and does these things but in the back of his mind, he knows he is a conniving jerk. He comes as the family’s savior but in the end, robs them of their happiness. The old lady and girl are alone.

I thought that whole quote was pretty ironic because in my opinion, Shiftlet was the slime of the earth. It's almost suicidal; maybe he realizes the fault in his actions and now just wants to die...or at least be struck by lightning or something. I found that quote to be pretty interesting and I almost blogged about it, but you did a very nice job of doing that yourself (always with a dash of humor). :)

Jessie Farine said:

I would like to thank you for clearing that whole part up for me. I don't know, maybe I didn't think about it enough, or was too blown away by completely irrational human behavior and responses to even think about the actions and what they meant, but I can definitely see it now that you mentioned and explained it. I have to be more on-the-ball with these significant things.

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This page contains a single entry by MadelynGillespie published on February 27, 2008 12:56 AM.

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