The Life You Save May Be Your Own Questions and Answers
by Flannery O’Connor

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What are the conflicts presented in "The Life You Save May Be Your Own"?

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One of the main conflicts in “The Life You Save May Be Your Own” is internal. Internal conflicts arise within the mind of a character—they comprise some mental or psychological struggle. The reader sees such a struggle in Mr. Shiftlet, the one-armed veteran who wanders to Lucynell Crater’s doorstep. From the beginning, Mr. Shiftlet struggles with the realities he has encountered so far in his life, such as the way the world seems to revolve around money. He cares more about self-fulfillment than material gain, and yet, he does not feel fulfilled. At one point he speaks of the restlessness of the “spirit”:

"A body and a spirit," he repeated. "The body, lady, is like a house: it don't go anywhere; but the spirit, lady, is like a automobile: always on the move, always . . . "

Mr. Shiftlet is a restless soul who struggles to find a place in the world. He has traveled and had varied experiences, but nowhere is he happy. This is one of the main conflicts in the story.

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