The Life You Save May Be Your Own
English 11, Reading Guide
Road signs like this one were common sights along highways in the 50’s and 60’s.
Read the story (pages 603-09) and complete this reading guide. Due _________________________
1. Describe the improvements Mr. Shiftlet makes in the Crater’s place during his first week there.
2. Explain how Mr. Shiftlet seems to want to exploit the Craters. How does the older Lucynell want to exploit Mr. Shiftlet?
3. The older Lucynell refers to her daughter’s innocence. What other “selling points” does the daughter have? What is the younger Lucynell really like?
4. What do you make of Mr. Shiftlet’s observation of the assembly line (page 607)?
5. What has become of young Lucynell and Mr. Shiftlet by the story’s end?
6. What is the significance of the remarks made by the hitchhiker just before he leaps from the moving car? In other words, why does he say what he says? What are we to make of the fact that Mr. Shiftlet feels that “the rottenness of the world” is about to engulf him? What irony do you sense in Mr. Shiftlet’s realization?
7. Find examples of details (setting, characterization, and dialogue) that carry potentially ominous or menacing overtones.
8. What is this story about? What does O’Connor want us to think about?
9. What becomes of Lucynell, asleep at the Hot Spot? Write an ending in which you account for Lucynell.
10. What is the significance of the title?
Some of these questions are from Holt Reinhart Winston, Elements of Literature, 5th Course.