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This is a reference to Mr. Shiftlet's lost and spiritually weak personality--he is being represented as a Christ-like figure. The fact that "his figure formed a crooked cross" is a very much similiar to the image of Jesus carrying the cross upon which He was crucified to the hill through town. It is certain that Shiflet is searching for something that will give meaning to his life, but we don't know just what. This is similar to Jesus' searching for lost souls to bring to Christianity.
Shiftlet is appreciative of nature and asks questions to make people think about where they are and where they want to be in life...very much like Jesus did with his parables.
He is in need of saving himself, since he is a shifty character which is obvious by the name O'Conner has chosen for him.
In addition, Shiftlet's figure literally forms a "crooked cross" because one of his arms is incomplete. If he extends his arms to form a cross, the horizontal bar of the cross would be asymmetrical or "crooked."
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