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March 11, 2006

What about the hitchhiker?

O'Connor, ''The Life You Save May Be Your Own'' -- Jerz: American Lit II (EL 267)"The boy didn't have his hand raised to thumb a ride, he was only standing there, but he had a small cardboard suitcase and his hat was set on his head in a way to indicate that he had left somewhere for good." (66). As I said in some other blog, I kept waiting for Mr. Shiftlet to back up over the hitchhiker with his care before driving away, but he never does-he just goes off into the storm. What do you guys make of the hitchhiker and Mr. Shiftlet's diatribe that sets the boy off so much?

Posted by BrendaChristeleit at March 11, 2006 12:38 PM


I'm not sure about the hitchhker, but I think Mr. Shiftlet's actions were pre-meditated. The boy's reaction is exactly what Mr. Shiftlet wanted. Just like the old man gave him more money and paint for his get-a-way automobile.

Posted by: Shanelle Kapusta at March 15, 2006 2:15 PM

I'm not sure WHAT to make of the distribe, Brenda. It sure SOUNDS like guilt over leaving Lucynell behind, but that would be so radically out-of-character that O'Connor would never write anything like it. As for you expecting him to run his car over the hitchhiker - well, I didn't expect it. So far what we know of Mr. Shiftlet is that he uses people. He abandoned Lucynell because she had served his purposes - he married her to get her mother's car, and now that he has the car, well, he just doesn't need to be burdened with a wife. I never expected him to run over the hitchhiker because, quite simply, there would be nothing in it for him, and Mr. Shiftlet operates on self-aggrandizement as his sole principle.

Posted by: Megan Ritter at May 2, 2006 9:19 PM

My personal opinion is that Shiftlet may have been about to finally collapse, and he needed somebody to pour his feelings of guilt on: and there he was, a boy standing on the side of the road that almost appeared to be waiting for him. That's why Shiftlet wanted the boy to accept the ride: so that he could finally tell somebody how he felt inside, tell somebody the only truth that was pushing to emerge from the huge amount of lies that laid in Mr. Shiftlet's soul: the love for his mother and the regret for leaving her.

Posted by: Alice at April 24, 2007 10:42 PM

I think that the boy represents Mr.Shiftlet, he is a wandering soul, no where to go and he mentions how he left his mother and Mr. Shiftlet says he did that also. Mr. Shiftlet tries to give the boy some advice and a chance, but he doesn't take the advice, like Mr. Shiftlet could have stayed with Lucinell and had a purpose.

Posted by: True Clown at October 24, 2007 9:16 PM

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