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A Lie Foreshadowed

"Lady," he said, "people don't care how they lie. Maybe the best I can tell you is, I'm a man; but listen lady," he said and paused and made his tone more ominous still, "what is a man?"

O'Connor, ''The Life You Save May Be Your Own'' -- Jerz: EL150 (Intro to Literary Study)

As sad as it is to say, no one can ever truly tell if someone is being truthful or not. I guess that is why trust is so important in life. Without trust, no one could believe anything anyone says. Unfortunately, as in this story, the trust can be misplaced. Mr. Shiftlet seems to be a decent man. Even through to the end, there is evidence of this. He even helps Lucynell learn how to say "bird," for she is deaf and has never learned to talk. He then marries her after going on about how he would not be able to provide for her as he should be able, since he didn't have the money. Once they reach The Hot Spot, Lucynell falls asleep, and he claims that she is merely a hitch-hiker he picked up. Then he leaves.

Mr. Shiftlet is definitely a complex character. On one level he is nice and considerate. On another he is insensitive and inconsiderate. How could he just leave Lucynell like that? She's deaf and the only word she can say is "bird." She can't communicate with anyone.


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Comments (4)

Jara White:

I also did my blog on that same quote. Mr. Shiftlet is a complex character. He comes off as a world weary sort of person looking for rest, but then we see he has nefarious plans of his own. I think it was the best thing he could have done for Lucynell, leaving her at the diner with Peter who perhaps sees her true worth, and can give her some semblance of a normal life. Unlike Mr. Shiftlet who was not right for her, and married her for the car and the money.


As well as Mr. Shiftlet being a complex character, I wonder about Lucynell's mother. I mean, did she really expect Mr. Shiftlet to come back? Was she trying to do the best thing for her daughter, or herself? Did she really love her daughter, or did she just want rid of the burden? I think if we knew what the mother wanted, then perhaps we would know more about Mr. Shiftlet's motives as well.

Chera Pupi:

I agree with you Hallie. The mother was really strange. I thought initially that she felt Mr. Shiftlet sincerely wanted to marry Lucynell being that he was so nice to her. However, after she bribed him with the car, I knew that she knew Mr. Shiftlet didn't want to marry her. So why? What made her think that he would take care of Lucynell, especially after she died?

Jennifer Prex:

Maybe the mother thought that Mr. Shiftlet was the only one she could even slightly trust to take care of Lucynell. It seemed like she was getting desperate. She needed someone to take care of her daughter. He had helped Lucynell learn her first word, which may very well have been more than anyone else had ever done. She may have known that he didn't want to marry her daughter but needed to trust someone, so she trusted him.

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