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This story is set in a tiny village deep in the heart of the U.S. There is an old woman who is seated outside enjoying the scorching sun from the porch of their house. When Mr.Shiftlet comes into the picture their is a significant way in which the theme of anti materialism begins to unfold. As we later on come to learn, both Mrs. Crater and Shift let share some emptiness within them. They are ready to do anything for each other so as to gain from the other party.
Crater wants a mate for her daughter no wonder she treats Shift let with generosity. She takes advantage of Mr. Shiftlet’s carpentry to renovate her house something that she achieves. In as much as Shift let pretends not to be interested in money and material wealth in the beginning of the story,"…there's some men that some things mean more to them than money…(O’Connor)" In earlier parts of the story, he sounds excited when he sees the “square rusted back of the automobile.”He asks the old woman, "…You ladies drive? (O’Connor)." In my opinion, this is the time when he starts imagining himself owning a car something he has always dreamt of, no wonder he works so hard to ensure it moves. This is the height of materialism.
The title of this story "The Life You Save May Be Your Own" is the first evidence that supports the theme of anti-materialism. O’Connor implies that people should not do things for their selfish gain. Instead people should act as if doing it for their own good. When the old woman tells Shift let “…That's all I got so it isn't any use you trying to milk me…” (O’Connor), it implies that perhaps she has had an experience with people milking her. His reply to Crater the old woman “…I'll make that do… (O’Connor),” implies that he is ready to take the little that was there other than capitalize on the woman’s generosity although he would eventually capitalize on the daughter’s disability to take the car with him, “…I can't wait. I got to make Tuscaloosa…" (O'Connor).
The car was a very valuable possession owing to the fact that this was a time when every American wanted to drive and make rounds all over the country.
“Lady Lazarus” is a poem that in my understanding is a mockery of death. The poet is a lady who uses the title of this poem as a symbol. She compares her life to that of the Biblical Lazarus who was raised from the dead. In the first stanza she states “I have done it again…” and in the 7th stanza “And like a cat, I have nine times to die…” (Plath). These two stanzas imply that she does not fear death at all since it is something that she has been practicing through attempted suicide. In stanza 15 “…dying is an art….I do it exceptionally well…” (Plath) confirms the fact that she has tried taking away her life. In this regard, I believe that Plath is suicidal and in as much it is not an accepted act until today, she fears it not nonetheless.
Plath was a very brilliant literature guru who lost the father at the age of eight (Lucas). The pain of losing the father triggered a continued life of tragedy for and at one point when she was 20 years old she attempted suicide which was however not successful. Three years later she met Ted Hughes and together they got a baby (Boynton and Malin, 465).This relationship did not last due to infidelity and as a result she got back to her suicidal habits.
There are many parts of this poem that directly represents her personal life. When she refers to herself in stanza 2 as “…a walking miracle…” (Plath), she simply marvels at how she has managed surviving suicide the number of times that she has tried to kill herself. She looks at her life as a theatrical performance which attracts crowds. In stanzas 15 “…It's easy enough to do it and stay put. It's the theatrical…”and 17 “…'A miracle!' That knocks me out…” (Plath) imply that people always come in numbers to witness her “resurrection” after another suicide attempt gone bad. She does not feel sorry at all about her acts much as it illegal to attempt suicide. At the end of the poem she believes that she is the greatest power that has ever been there. “…Herr God, Herr Lucifer, Beware! Beware!” (Plath), she warns both higher and lower powers not to bother her since she has conquered death.
Ironically enough is the fact that a few months after writing this poem, she committed suicide after inhaling carbon monoxide from her stove. An understanding of her background played a very vital role in helping me understand the poem more (Lucas).