"The Life You Save May Be Your Own," the story of a drifting man who meets an old woman and her daughter, is a very interesting piece by Flannery O"Connor. The old woman, Lucynell Crater and her daughter, also Lucynell Crater, live by themselves, and one day Mr. Shiftlet, the drifter, appears on their front porch. This story tells about how their relationship grows all together and very effectively uses symbolism to explain the characters intentions. Through O"Connor's symbolism we see what all the characters have in mind and it is shown through their thoughts and actions. Although Lucynell Crater, the mother, and Mr. Shiftlet seem to be very polite and generous, O"Connor provides us with a window that helps us see more clearly, the intentions on both Mrs., Crater's and Mr. Shiftlet's parts.
O"Connor describes Mr. Shiftlet to be a very nice and generous man, looking for a place to stay in return for his work. His actions, for the most part, show us his good intentions and lead us to believe that he is a good person. Yet, while his actions mostly portray good aspects, O"Connor uses symbolism to sneak in the true meaning behind Mr. Shiftlet. "His left coat sleeve was folded up to show there was only half an arm in it and his gaunt figure listed slightly to the side as if the breeze were pushing him." (O"Connor 47) O"Connor uses his disability to show us that he isn't normal. Normal people have two arms and Mr. Shiftlet did not, so something is "wrong" with him. He isn't normal. "" there ain't a broken thing on this plantation that I couldn't fix for you, one-arm jackleg or not. I"m a man," he said with a sullen dignity, "even if I ain't a whole one."" (O"Connor 53) We see here that Mr. Shiftlet is capable of doing normal things so this leads me to believe that his abnormality must be something within. His arm lets us know of something fishy, and the fact that he can perform well without two whole arms, shows us that his intentions could be something to watch out for.