Is there a type of romance in "The Life You Save May be Your Own"?
There is definitely an element of romance in this story. Although it seems that the characters merely use each other in an opportunistic manner, Mrs. Crater and Shiftlet engage in a ritual, or tradition that is grounded in the romantic. These characters encounter each other and suddenly possibilities that life has to offer that seemed unattainable appear.
If Mrs. Crater did not harbor a romantic notion about life, why would she seize the opportunity to marry her daughter off to the drifter. It doesn't seem enough to imagine that she only wanted a handyman. If she did not believe that life was supposed to end up a certain way, such as a daughter is required to marry, then why would she send her mute daughter off with the stranger.
Mrs. Crater is an opportunist, so is Shiftlet, but there is still a romantic notion in this story, even though it ends with Lucynell being abandoned. Mrs. Crater succeeded in marrying her daughter off, a romantic notion that most mothers dream of for their daughters, mute or not
I would have to say no. Both Mr. Shiftlet and Lucynell's mother reject romance in favor of selfish personal benefit. Mrs. Crater wants to pawn Lucynell off on Mr. Shiftlet since her daughter has little chance of luring a decent suitor in the traditional way. Mr. Shiftlet has an opportunity for romance, but he rejects it when he leaves Lucynell at a diner on the road. O'Connor suggests that Mr. Shiflet may regret choosing a car over his bride, but he still "step[s] on the gas" and gets away as quickly as possible.