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An Unlikely Angel

He swung both his whole and his short arm up slowly so that they indicated an expanse of sky and his figure formed a crooked cross.
O'Connor, ''The Life You Save May Be Your Own'' -- Jerz: EL150 (Intro to Literary Study)

In her blog, Hallie wrote, "Perhaps Mr. Shiftlet is a false Christ?" This reallly got me thinking. Many people have been debating on whether or not Mr. Shiftlet is a Christ figure: Lucynell, an angel. Personally, I think that O'Connor purposefully confuses the reader in order to depict a confusing society. Through her character development, O'Connor depicts the corruption of society, and, more specifically, religion. For example, she endows Mr. Shiftet with Christlike characteristics; however, at the same time, she depicts him as a "tramp." By combining these two opposing characterizations, O'Connor depicts the corruption that has leaked into her Catholic faith. For example, when Mr. Shiflet raises his arms, one deformed, and creates an off-center crucifix, this gesture, for me at least, represented the deformity of the church or Christianity. While O'Connor radically depicts the corruption of Chirstianity through ,Mr. Shiftlet, a Christ figure, she also depicts innocence through Lucynell, a helpless deaf-mute, 30 years old and unmarried. The factors that initially define Lucynell's helplessness, later, ironically define her angelic innocence. Essentially, O'Connor confuses us by combining the unlikely in order to create a story that causes readers to reevaluate life.

Comments (1)

Good point... to recognize him as a false savior still recognizes the desire for a savior. This adds a layer of complexity to the "Is X a Christ symbol" argument. A false Christ would still have many of the characteristics of a true Christ, or else people wouldn't mistake the one for the other.


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