AP Lit Live Binder

The Life you Save may be your Own by Flannery O’Connor
This story starts off by depicting the scene of an elderly woman named Lucynell Crater and her daughter, also named Lucynell Crater. A man who introduces himself under a number of different aliases, from Tom Shiftlet to Aaron Sparks to simply “a man” soon comes up to their porch. Following some small talk and telling about his life to the two Craters, Tom asks if he could stay and work for them. After some convincing, the elder Crater offers him work, saying she could only offer food and shelter in return for his work. Tom happily agrees and begins his work. Within a week, Tom had already made several improvements around the house, included getting the younger Crater, who was dead, to say her first word. Shortly after, Tom fixes up the old car of the Craters and he and the elder Lucynell make an agreement, that he and the younger Lucynell would get married. Tom manages to convince the old Crater to give him some money for a weekend trip for him and his new wife and the two of them head to Moblie, Alabama. Along the way, however, he had a sudden change of heart. Stopping at a roadside restaurant, lucynell fell asleep at the table and Tom told the waiter she was a hitchhiker, for the waiter to give the food to her when she woke up, and left her there. Driving alone now, Tom soon picked up another companion. It was a small boy that was standing on the side of the road with a cardboard suitcase. After picking up the small boy, Tom proceeded to talk about his mother, saying that she was the best in the world. This enrages the boy and causes him to say that his “old woman is a flea bag” and Tom’s was a “stinking pole cat” and fling himself out of the car. Tom, completely in shock, soon stopped the car and cried out to God, asking him to wash the smile from the earth. A few minutes after his prayer, rain drops start to hit the back of Tom’s car and he floors the car off toward Mobile.

Story relation; I think there’s a very prevalent theme in both stories that danger can come from where you’re least expecting it. In both stories, the evil doers came as though they were going to help the victims. The Misfit came up to the wrecked car and Tom came to an elderly ladies house seeking a job. In both circumstances, it seems as though they’ve come to help the people, when in reality it turns out the be the exact opposite. The Misfit kills the family and Tom runs off with the Craters car and money. So I think that there’s a relatable theme that danger can come from anywhere, even from people you think are going to help you.

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I chose a car because in both stories it plays a central, and negative, part in both stories. In the Misfit, they die because they wreck the car on the side of the road. In The Life you Save could be your Own, Tom steals the car from the Craters and uses it to run off to Mobile with their money. I just thought it was interesting that O’Connor would portray something that we use everyday and are very used to as such a negative object. Yes, bad things can happen with and because of cars, but we usually don’t think about it. She, however, uses it negatively in two separate stories and I just thought that was interesting.

4 Topics

1. Can I relate to it? Yes, I can actually. I have a deaf sister, so I can relate to the elder Lucynell in her desire to protect her daughter from danger and just about everything in the world.

2. Universal Theme- People aren’t always how they seem

3. Psychological Development- Tom’s devolvement from a clever almost con artist to a man trapped in a guilty conscience.

4. Focus- The focus is mainly on the characters in the story. It focuses on the relationship between Tom and the two Craters in order to drive the story forward.