The Life You Save May Be Your

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The Life You Save May Be Your Own Essay, Research Paper Mary Flannery O’Connor Mary Flannery O’Connor was born on March 25, 1925, in Savannah, Georgia. She was an only child. She attended school in Georgia, but did not complete her high school education in Savannah because her family was forced to move to Milledgeville in 1938, after it was discovered that her father had contracted lupus. He died three years later. She attended Peabody High School, and then Georgia State College for Women. She dropped her first name, and became simply Flannery O’Connor prior to her writing career. Flannery O’ Connor did not limit herself to any certain style when it came to literature. In addition, she had extensive knowledge of the Bible. She always tried to use the Bible as a source

for her beliefs and ideas. “A Good Man is Hard to Find” is a story about a family from Georgia, consisting of two children, a mother, a father, and a grandmother, who brings along her cat. They are on vacation, driving to Florida. The grandmother, the central character of the story, is a bitter, closed-minded old woman who does not desire to go to Florida, but rather Tennessee. The family turns off of the main road, because the grandmother demands that she must see a house that she is sure is right down the road. After realizing, a few miles down the road, that the house in question is in Tennessee, and not Georgia, the grandmother gets upset, the cat jumps up, and they end up wrecking the car. The grandmother insures their doom, when they are aided by a group of men who pull

up, and she blurts out that one of the men is the Misfit, a convict with no regard for human life. The family is led into the woods and killed. The grandmother is the last to be killed. The grandmother tries to talk her way out of the situation but she fails. This is a story that examines religion, right and wrong, and society as a whole. The most profound point that this story makes is that while a good man is indeed hard to find, a truly evil one is just as rare. It is in the context of this history that O’Connor’s writing begins to assume clearer meaning. O’Connor spent her late childhood years in the midst of the Depression, and was undoubtedly affected by the increasing Southern dialect and loneliness she saw in the rural communities she was so familiar with. Her

characters and settings are drawn almost completely from her own experience, and she paid careful attention in her writings to talk about the poor man’s experiences. One example of this is Tom T. Shiftlet, the drifter in “The Life you Save May Be Your Own,” who abandons his sleeping deaf bride at a roadside restaurant and drives off alone with their honeymoon money. O’Connor’s fiction is as much about human nature as it is about grace and redemption. While ultimately trying to express divine truth, she also reveals a great deal about humanity’s slow participation in the mystery. Her characters wander around blindly unaware of the holy meaning in ordinary events. The world in which her characters move is ambiguous; awareness of God’s grace does not come easily to

these people. They are so fallen, and their consciousness is so impermeable that only the most violent and soul-wrenching moments of life awaken them from their sluggishness and prepare them for the intervention of God’s grace. Ultimately, these moments reveal the love of God for unworthy people. O’Connor writes similar to philosophers and theologians, exploring the same questions and mysteries, but through fiction rather than explanation. Her work, like the stories of the Bible, leads the reader into a strange land marked with puzzling signposts. Here, faith and fiction meet at a crossroads where we are pointed to the road less traveled–our participation in the divine mystery. Although O’Connor was a Southern writer, she was every bit a Catholic writer, too. She could