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March 8, 2006

Mr. Shiftless, I mean Shiflet

O'Connor, ''The Life You Save May Be Your Own'' -- Jerz: American Lit II (EL 267)"She was ravenous for a son-in-law." Ravenous is an apt adjective-she was so hungry for a man around the house, and Mr. Shiflet proved himself enough to win her good graces in only a week. I also liked the line "'Saturday' the old woman said, "you and her and me can drive into town and get married." And I thought that the story takes place in Alabama, not Utah.

Posted by BrendaChristeleit at March 8, 2006 8:45 PM


Amazingly enought Mr.Shiftlet was using Lucynell and that the only reason he went to the house was to get the car. Grant it he did do some work and helped out but his alternative motive was wrong and he did not even want to marry Lucynell the daughter he did it to get the car. The old woman never realized that she was being ripped off and the daughter paid the ultimate price for their selfishness.

Posted by: LisaRandolph at March 10, 2006 10:58 AM

I think we need to take a clue from the title "The Life You Save May Be Your Own". It's so ironic, the road sign with this message is meant to have drivers think about the safety of their own lives, when thinking about themselves is mostly what Mr. Shiftlet and mother Lucynell did. Mother Lucynell didn't give a hoot about what her daughter wanted, she only wanted to keep her home, and if a man could be found to marry Lucynell and then stick around to help out around the house, great! (Mother Lucynell takes great pains to sell the situation: "'my well never goes dry and my house is always warm in the winter and there's no mortgage on a thing about this place. You can go to the courthouse and see for yourself. And yonder under that shed is a fine automobile.' She laid the bait carefully." (63). LAID THE BAIT!! And all of a sudden, a car that hasn't moved in 15 years is "a fine automobile". Mr. Shiftlet was in it for himself from the start, you are correct, but he didn't try to cover it up either. I don't beleive that his motives were "wrong", I think we are hard-wired to put our own interests first, and what's so interesting is that Mother Lucynell put these interests before the welfare of her child, which goes against Nature's Instinct Law #2, protection of offspring. That's where she got into trouble.

Posted by: Brenda Christeleit at March 11, 2006 12:31 PM

I agree with you Brenda. Even if Mr. Shiflet had only one motive, to steal the car, he wasn't trying to win over the mother. He was doing the work and really not asking for much. The mother was the stupid one. She said "I wouldn't give her up for nothing on earth." Hmmm seems to be she did. For some lousy house work!

I still do not understand the title though and its siginificance.

Posted by: OnileeSmith at March 13, 2006 8:00 PM

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