Is there any type of tragedy in "The Life You Save May Be Your Own"?

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sullymonster eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The quick answer is yes.  But here is more:  When discussing literary forms, tragedy refers to any story in which the character flaws of the protagonist bring about his own downfall.  In this situation, the character flaw that is responsible for the downfall is known as the progatonist's "tragic flaw".

The protagonist in this story is Shiftlet.  Throughout the story, this character is a wanderer who seems to be searching for something with which to give his life meaning.  He settles into the farm as a handyman, allowing it to give him a home base and some sense of community.  However,  he is swayed by Mrs. Carter's eagerness to give him her daughter - she is so eager that she is willing to give him money for it.  He takes Lucynell as a wife only for the money, as demonstrated when he quickly abandons her.  However, Shiftlet is the same now as he was before.  He may have money and a car, but he is tragically alone, still a wanderer, still lacking a purpose in life.  His tragic flaw was his greed, which allowed him to overlook the possibility of finding redemption.

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The Life You Save May Be Your Own

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