Contrasts between A Rose for Emily and A Good Man Is Hard to Find

The past plays a large role in William Faulkner’s A Rose for Emily, as well as in Flannery O’Connor’s A Good Man Is Hard to Find. Both short stories involve women who bring up – and sometimes focus on – the past and how the world used to be. However, the usage of mentioning past events and how these women change are very different, in action and execution. Emily Grierson, from Faulkner’s A Rose for Emily, wanted to live her life in the past. However, the grandma, from O’Connor’s tale A Good Man Is Hard to Find, just alludes to moments from her past that are better than her current situation. The past and change have a correlation, and these two stories prove so. The following displays of the past truly change these women, more for the worse than the better.

In A Rose for Emily, Emily Grierson was a woman who was beautiful in her youth, but her father refused to let her marry or even get close to a man; the townspeople “remembered all the young men her father had driven away” when he was alive (Faulkner, 81). She lived the rest of her life without a father, a mother – an unmentioned character in the narrative – and no husband. Emily was not completely without family, however: she had two cousins, and “old lady Wyatt, her great-aunt [who] had gone completely crazy at last” (Faulkner, 81). Emily had “insanity in the family” and some mental illnesses are hereditary. This means that Emily may have become mentally ill herself (Faulkner, 81). After her father died, Emily denied his death for three days; women who came to offer their condolences met Emily at her front door, but “she told them that her father was not dead” (Faulkner, 81). Emily later met a man named Homer Barron, whom she would date for quite some time. She was afraid that he would leave her just as her father did, and like how all the men left when her father felt they were getting too close to Emily. In order to keep Homer with her, she decided to poison him and keep his dead body in her bed; “the body had apparently lain once in the attitude of an embrace” (Faulkner, 84). Her mental illness had driven her to this obscene act. Perhaps this is how Emily displayed her affection, albeit unwholesome in nature. Emily wanted to live in that peaceful, loving moment with Homer Barron. This past life is all she really ever wanted in the world.

Emily Grierson’s concern with the past was her obsession. She had full knowledge of her father’s departure from Earth, but she just could not accept it. In addition, years after her father’s death, she refused to pay her taxes to the town because she felt that the arrangement her father made with Colonel Sartoris was still valid, but Colonel Sartoris died many years ago as well. Now she still believed that Colonel Sartoris and her father were still alive and well; she was becoming very delusional. When Emily met Homer Barron she truly fell in love with him, so much that she never wanted to let him go; she could not handle another man walking out of her life. She kept his dead body in her bedroom as a memory of their first night in bed together. Whenever she went back to that room, it was a reminder of that night, one she would not soon forget.

In A Good Man Is Hard to Find, the nameless grandmother is the protagonist of the story. Her family consists of her son (Bailey), his wife and their three children – a little boy named John Wesley, a little girl named June Star, and a baby. They decide to go on a road trip from Tennessee to Florida as a nice family vacation. Throughout the trip, the personality of each family member is portrayed, each one with some ill-mannered, sin-like aspect about them. The grandmother was the worst of them all because she was so self-centered; she did not care much for her own family. In her family’s final moments, the grandmother did not look back into the past for the moments with them that were enjoyable; she was too concerned about herself and her needs.

The grandmother in A Good Man Is Hard to Find continued to allude to the past as a way of correcting the children for their bad behavior. In one instance, John Wesley said some harsh words about the state of Georgia, and the grandmother stated to him that when she was younger “children were more respectful of their states and their parents and everything else. People did right then” (O’Connor, 187). In addition, the grandmother and Red Sammy, the restaurant owner, were talking about “better times” when children were more respectful and there were not as many bad people in the world (O’Connor, 189). Ironically, the people in this story that are bad were the main characters.

Looking at the aspect of change in these two stories, the power of love drove Emily Grierson to murder, but it did not change the grandmother at all. Emily loved Homer Barron so much that she never let him leave her house after that wonderful night they shared – the last night he was alive. Although this is not a normal way to show affection, it was understandable for Emily because she had a mental illness; it was illegal, yet it showed more love and concern than that of the grandmother in A Good Man Is Hard to Find. The grandmother reflected on moments of the past when children and other people in the world were less sinful. However, she did not try to correct herself; her entire family – killed just a few feet away from her – accepted death but the grandmother tried to cheat her way out of being murdered. In a situation like this, the average person would show more concern and affection and try to help their family, not themselves. The grandmother was the opposite: she was more concerned with stopping “The Misfit” from killing her than to accept the justified death (O’Connor, 186). The grandmother began to plead with “The Misfit” to coax him into sparing her using various tactics (O’Connor 186). She claimed that he was “one of [her] own children”, even though in the first paragraph the story stated “Bailey was the son she lived with, her only boy” (O’Connor 196, 186). In the end, the grandmother was egotistical and self-servient; she did not die a good woman.

These two short stories consisted of two different paths of life, themes, plots, settings, and much more; the differences between these two tales were vast. Even in their endings, the stories were different. A Rose for Emily ended with the body of the man she loved found in her bed in a loving embrace. However, the grandmother in A Good Man Is Hard to Find died trying to cheat her way out of death by telling “The Misfit” that he should pray to Jesus because she can tell he had “good blood” and that he “wouldn’t shoot a lady” even though he had already killed the mother (O’Connor 186, 195). Although diverse, these two stories relate to one aspect: death is the most freeing option.

Faulkner, William. “A Rose for Emily” (1930). Literature: Approaches to Fiction, Poetry, and Drama. 2nd ed. Boston: McGraw-Hill, 2004. 186-196. Print.

O’Connor, Flannery. “A Good Man Is Hard to Find” (1955). Literature: Approaches to Fiction, Poetry, and Drama. 2nd ed. Boston: McGraw-Hill, 2004. 186-196. Print.

Overview of William Faulkner

William Cuthbert Falkner started his life on September 25, 1897, in Mississippi. He was born into a prominent family, who owned banks and a railroad. Mammy Callie, his childhood nurse, was a major contributor to his works. The stories she would tell him stayed with him for his entire life, and even inspired some of his stories. Although his greatest influence was his great-grandfather, whom everyone called the Old Colonel. Falkner decided from a young age that he was going to write just like the Old Colonel. He was not scholarly though, by the fourth grade he grew bored with school and finally dropped out his second time through the eleventh grade. Falkner had many jobs, before his first manuscript was published. He joined the British Royal Air Force and added a “u” to his last name, to make himself sound more British, but he would never see a day of combat. After his failed attempt at being a pilot, he returned to Oxford and became the Postmaster at the University of Mississippi Post Office. When he was fired for throwing mail away, he moved to New Orleans and started writing. The publishers did not like his first book Flags in the Dust, so he edited it down and renamed it Sartoris. Although he had a rocky start, his writing career soon took off with his second book, The Sound and the Fury (Harmon).

William Faulkner creates an entire world based on his own experiences. He predominately writes about Mississippi during its transition from the Old South, of the Civil War, to the age of industry. Early in his life Faulkner said “he realized he could write for a lifetime and never fully exhaust his little postage stamp of native soil” (Ferris 6). Although he gives the fictional name Yoknapatawapha County to his main setting, it is really based on Lafayette County where he spent most of his life. “Faulkner grew up surrounded by traditional lore–family and regional stories, rural folk wisdom and humor, heroic and tragic accounts of the War Between the States, and tales of the hunting code and the Southern gentleman’s ideal of conduct” (William Faulkner). This history coupled with his drive to be part of the modern world creates a conflict within Faulkner that comes out in his work.

As biographer Singal states, “All his life Faulkner would struggle to reconcile these two divergent approaches to selfhood—the Victorian urge toward unity and stability he had inherited as a child of the southern rural gentry, and the Modernist drive for multiplicity and change that he absorbed very early in his career as a self-identifying member of the international artistic avant-garde.” This struggle leads to Faulkner’s need to present traditional southern people through modern techniques. He achieves this goal by thorough character development, and these characters are brought to life through a variety of methods. Three of the most effective techniques Faulkner uses are his ability to capture the dialect and mannerisms of his characters, his character’s need to dwell on their past, and a stream of consciousness approach to much of his storytelling.

The South of Faulkner’s works is filled with the trappings of their time: an agricultural society, Southern belles and gentlemen, racial inequality, and especially the rural Southern dialect. Faulkner presents a realistic portrait of the South that he grew up in by using samples of the Southern language, including the speech of both the upper and lower classes. Faulkner establishes a unique voice which is recognizable for its distinct vocabulary, pronunciation, and lack of grammatical form, which is unique to the South. Faulkner uses this convention perfectly in “Barn Burning.” From the first time he uses Colonel Sartoris Snopes’ voice, it is clear who this child is and his probable lot in life. By describing his father’s enemy as “ourn! mine and hisn both!” (“Barn” 3), many details of the boy’s education are brought to light through these five words. When Abner warns Sartoris that “You got to learn to stick to your own blood or you ain’t going to have any blood to stick to you” (“Barn Burning” 8), Faulkner shows in just one sentence how Abner acts towards his son.

Faulkner’s dialect is effective as both a literary device and as a link between the language, culture, and history of the South. Faulkner succeeds in representing the Southern dialect which consistently throughout his stories. In his writing, this can be described by such traits as an intentional misspelling, or the use of Miss along with a woman’s first name, such as Miss Emily. Linguists such as Raven McDavid have gathered that the oldest and least educated, as well as many Blacks, in their Southern language studies have demonstrated usage of improper verb past tenses such as div for dive, growed for grow, and riz for rise (McDavid 264-280). Accordingly, in Faulkner’s The Sound and the Fury, there is an immense sign on the Negro Second Baptist Church which reads “He Is Ris.” One other trait of Faulkner’s language that is common to Southern dialects is the occasional loss of the “r” sound, as in the words “baun” for born, and “bastud” for bastard. These words, along with dozens of others appearing in many of Faulkner’s stories help solidify the speaker and dialect in the reader’s mind.

Faulkner’s representation of Southern speech in writing follows the actual linguistic parameters of the Southern Lowland, or Southern Proper, dialect very closely, by Raven McDavid’s classification. So, his written dialogue is a close copy to the Southern dialect he truly speaks. Faulkner makes a strong effort to display all the nuances of this dialect, even though many of them cannot really be sensed through writing alone. For instance, the clues presented by facial and bodily expressions must be made up for with written equivalents, such as pronunciation, grammar, and word usage.

Faulkner’s works also portray differing perceptions of time. Many of his main characters have neither present nor future; they are caught in their own pasts. “As to Faulkner’s heroes, they never look ahead” (Sartre 91). One of Faulkner’s most powerful disconnected characters is Joe Christmas, in Light in August. The first description of the protagonist is ‘rootless” (Light 21), and his memories begin from the age of five, when he was adopted from an orphanage. Therefore, he has no concrete knowledge of his heritage and undergoes a painful identity crisis. To his dismay, his foster parents, the MacEacherns, mercilessly force zealous religious beliefs on him. Always different from others, he becomes an outcast, and he is called a nigger so often that he loses all sense of self-worth. The childhood of abuse from his family and racial slurs from his peers scar every memory and he cannot escape his past.

Joe Christmas “is not determined by his past, he is his past” and has “no concept of his future” (Poullion 83). Joe develops negative associations, towards women, because the only time he sees them is at church. He falls in love with Bobbie, the waitress, but his original distrust of women is reinforced when he discovers she is a prostitute. “Thus through the persistence of past impressions, especially childhood impressions, Faulkner shows that the present is submerged in the past, that what is lived in the present is what was lived in the past” (Poullion 80).

Once Joe killed MacEachern, “he entered the street which was to run for fifteen years” (Light 223). During the time Joe is running away, he loses his grasp on reality and time. “He thought that it was loneliness which he was trying to escape and not himself” (Light 226). For a while he gains some stability in his relationship with Johanna Burden, and she threatens his life with religious conversion. He is again reminded of his history and cannot handle this relationship, so he kills her and runs away again. He looses his grip on time and reality, once again. “He could never know when he would pass from one to another, when he found he has been asleep without remembering having lain down, or find himself waking without remembering having waked” (Light 333). He does not think of eating and sleeping, and in two bouts of lunacy he even demands to know the day of the week. “It was as though now and at last he had an actual and urgent need to strike off the accomplished days toward some purpose without either falling short or overshooting” (Light 335).

The secret of Joe’s past is revealed at the end of the novel, after he has been captured and accused of murder. The pieces are put together for the reader alone. It is stated that he was the illegitimate son of a black circus worker, and that his grandfather, Doc Hines, was the janitor at the orphanage. Joe is never given this crucial piece of information, and it is not until Percy Grimm castrates and murders him that he can truly rest in peace. “Then his face, body, all, seemed to collapse, to fall in upon itself and from the slashed garments about his hips and loins the pent black blood seemed to rush like a released breath” (Light 465). His past is the permanent thorn in his side that keeps him from seeing his future, or even his present.

In The Sound and the Fury, Faulkner creates a mentally retarded character named Benjy Compson. Among the novel’s four narrators, Benjy’s vivid observations combine to paint the most revealing picture of the Compson family. Benjy chronicles major events in his life such as his name change at early childhood, the realization that he has been castrated, and Caddy’s transformation. His awareness of his surroundings and aversion to change is not clear to others, because he has difficulty expressing himself. He has no sense of chronological time at all. His narration consists of mixed memories, constantly jumping from one thought to the next without any indication. Overall, Benjy’s recollections add a dreamlike quality to the novel: “The past takes on a sort of super-reality; its contours are hard and clear, unchangeable” (Sartre 89). What confuses the reader does not confuse Benjy, since his entire existence is a collage of his disjointed memories.

Benjy can only use his senses to register emotion, and relies mostly on his hearing and sense of smell. His past is “sensation” (Sartre 48). Almost instinctively, he knows when changes in his routine have occurred. For example, he loves the fact that his sister Caddy always smells like trees. On her wedding day, Benjy realizes, “Caddy put her arms around me, and her shining veil, and I couldn’t smell trees anymore and I began to cry” (Sound 40). He knows she is leaving home and he will be left without the only person who ever considered his feelings. While he is loosing his sister he also loses the only other thing that he loves, his pasture. “He lay on the ground under the window bellowing. We have sold Benjy’s pasture so that Quentin may go to Harvard” (Sound 94). His never ending continuum of memories makes his dysfunctional family background into a prison of despair.

Benjy Compson, in The Sound and the Fury, and Joe Christmas, in Light in August, are trapped in their own bitter pasts, which shows that “a man’s misfortune lies in his being time-bound” (Sartre 88). Consequently, time fixation is ever-present in the works of Faulkner to emphasize the stranglehold of the past. This fixation is usually coupled with a totally disjointed timeline. This meandering stream of consciousness can be used to show a major aspect about a character or situation. This is the premise for “A Rose for Emily,” one of Faulkner’s most widely read stories.

In “A Rose for Emily”, Faulkner relates the events of Emily’s life out of order. He does this through a mourner at her funeral sharing their memories, in the order that they remember them. Through theses memories Faulkner reveals the town’s feelings towards her. Since these events do not follow each other logically, the reader is kept in the dark to build suspense. Instead, the story starts from the end, with the mourners gathering at Miss Emily’s house, and jumps from time period to time period. Faulkner “juxtaposed the lives of different characters in scenes that did not proceed linearly or chronologically” (McHaney 50), and this slow revelation is created to place the events in order of importance and not just linearly.

Faulkner believes Emily’s pride and presence, in dealing with the aldermen, is more important than her past, so he gives the account of how she “vanquished them, horse and foot” (Emily 52), before he explained her past. He then jumps back thirty years, to further explain her hold on the community. By relating the story about the aldermen fixing the smell at Emily’s house, Faulkner is slowly revealing the clues to what is the ultimate discovery. Then he reveals Homer Baron, and how the town thought she would never “think seriously of a Northerner, a day laborer” (Emily 55). Homer was Emily’s only real suitor and had left town shortly before the smell. The final clue is revealed by her purchase of the arsenic, and her ability to circumvent the law to get it. “Miss Emily just stared at him, her head tilted back in order to look him eye for eye, until he looked away and went and got the arsenic and wrapped it up” (Emily 56). Instead of blatantly stating that Homer was the reason for the smell, Faulkner makes the reader discover it, by giving Homer’s story after giving an account of the smell.

Faulkner’s gradual exposure of Emily’s character, through the memory of the mourner, subtly foreshadows the shock and horror of finding the monster in the matriarch of Jefferson, Mississippi. In this way, the reader learns what the town thinks of her, before the discovery, and the feelings that allowed Emily to get away with whatever she wanted for so long. The people of the town never expect this turn of events. Emily represented so much to the town that they could never have suspected her of anything more than eccentricity. This truly shows how their feelings for her clouded their perception of her. By making the reader discover the true sequence of events, Faulkner makes it so that the reader has insight that the town does not see. Although, Homer’s dead body may not be expected by the townspeople it is expected by the reader. While the stream of consciousness can be hard to follow, it does add a sense of accomplishment to figuring out Emily’s secret before the town does. If Faulkner would have used a linear plot in the story, part of its meaning and enjoyment would be lost. If there was to be no detective work, then the story would just be a story about an old lady who was a monster.

The honing of his techniques, over the years, is what makes Faulkner such a refreshingly individual novelist. Although he can be somewhat long-winded and overly descriptive, his character development is a hallmark of the modernist literature movement of the early twentieth century. His works transcend “Southern literature” and should be viewed as literature about the South. Even though the dialect may be hard to follow at times, Faulkner has a true gift at capturing the hearts and minds of his characters. The reader does not need to be from the South, or even know much about Southern life, to appreciate the depth and breadth of his works. The works covered are merely his best known, a showcase of what Faulkner can do with a pen. There are many other great stories in his catalogue, from “Two Soldiers” to Sanctuary, and Faulkner is well worth his reputation and recognition.

Works Cited

Faulkner, William. “A Rose for Emily”. Selected Short Stories of William Faulkner. Random House, 1932. 49-61.

Faulkner, William. “Barn Burning”. Selected Short Stories of William Faulkner. Random House, 1932. 3-27.

Faulkner, William. Light in August. Vintage International, 1990.

Faulkner, William. The Sound and the Fury. Vintage International, 1980.

Ferris, William R. “A Sense of Place”. Humanities. National Endowment for the Humanities. July/August 1999. 4-13.

Harmon, Melissa Burdick. “William Faulkner: The Sound and the Fury of a Self-Destructive Life”. Biography. June 2000. 96-101.

McDavid, Raven I. Varieties of American English: Essays. Stanford University Press. 1980.

McHaney, Thomas L. “Faulkner’s Techniques”. Gale Study Guides to Great

Literature Vol.6: William Faulkner. Gale Group, 2000. 48-57

Poillon, Jean. “Time and Destiny in Faulkner”. Faulkner. Ed. Robert Penn Warren. Prentice Hall, 1996.

Singal, Daniel J. William Faulkner: The Making of a Modernist. UC Davis. 03 October 2001. .

Sartre, Jean-Paul. “On The Sound and the Fury: Time in the work of Faulkner”. Faulkner. Ed. Robert Penn Warren. Prentice Hall, 1996.

“William Faulkner.” Nobel Lectures, Literature 1901-1967. Editor Horst Frenz. Elsevier Publishing Company, Amsterdam. 1969

Us and the Other: Humanity in William Faulkner’s The Bear

Us and the Other: Humanity in William Faulkner’s The Bear William Faulkner’s short novel The Bear is a rich story of characters going through rites of passage to understand themselves in the context of the Other. The Other is represented by interrelated characters who come to understand different ways of life. One example of this discovery is the relationship between the characters of the Bear himself and that of Sam Fathers. Both characters are old, isolated individuals with little or no connection to their own species. Old Ben, the bear, is both a hunted animal and one of the story’s main characters. He is an Other to those that hunt him as well as to the other bears. He, like Sam Fathers is an old cripple – the “two-toed bear.” Constantly being hunted by the humans he turns into a reclusive beast whose actions against the humans have almost begun to take on a form of insolence. He sometimes walks away, or kills a dog just for fun. In this way he begins to take on a human characteristic which allows Faulkner to contrast him better against the humans as the Other and, as such, an essential element of how the humans view themselves in the world, in nature and in regards to the animals. This, in turn, shapes humans’ own view of themselves and draws parallels between their own species. It makes the Other an irreducible part of the Self. A perfect example of this is when Major de Spain refers to the Bear in very human terms: “I’m disappointed in him. He has broken the rules. I didn’t think he would have done that. He has killed mine and McCaslin’s dogs, but that was all right. We gambled the dogs against him; we gave each other warning. But now he has come into my house and destroyed my property, out of season too. He broke the rules.” By painting the Bear as a fellow human being, it is as if General de Spain is acknowledging the fact that the Bear is also part of the fabric of the world he lives in. Instead of portraying the bear as something so foreign, something that can’t be understood by humans, Faulkner gives credence to the bear’s actions and mentality by putting him on the level of the human beings. The result is a better understanding of the bear as the Other. It’s not only humans that the novel is targeting – it is the White Man who has come into the forest. For the same reason, by having the bear represent something similar to a human being, Faulkner is able to make the connection to the White Hunter (the White Machine), who comes into the forest to hunt and destroy everything living within it. It also puts the bear on a level with the Native Americans, who are also being hunted to extinction. Sam identifies with Old Ben as being part of a dying breed, and he and Ben die at similar times. They are both relics of the past, unable to identify with their own tribe and hunted by a growing White culture. We see this when a dying Sam is being tended to by the doctor in a passage midway through the novel: “They undressed him. He lay there- the copper-brown, almost hairless body, the old man’s body, the old man, the wild man not even one generation from the woods, childless, kinless, peopleless- motionless, his eyes open but no longer looking at any of them…” Sam Fathers dies in much the same way that Old Ben does, with his eyes open, and when Sam dies he speaks something in a native tongue indiscernible to the others. This represents the past, the purity of Nature, and a time when the laws of Nature were the laws of the land – a time before the white man and his machines of destruction and industrialization came to power. Sam understood this deep down and the Bear understood this to a point where he challenged the humans, flagrantly displaying his isolation and individuality, before he was eventually overcome. Sam was on the side of the humans, but never really identifies with them. He was always a part of the Other and this was something he couldn’t escape.

Stunning Comparison in Faulkner’s A Rose for Emily and Barn Burning

In the words of Oscar Wilde, “The well-bred contradict other people. The wise contradict themselves.” Conflict between the “well-bred” people and their “wise” counterparts satiates William Faulkner’s short stories “A Rose for Emily” and “Barn Burning.” The inability of Emily Grierson in “A Rose for Emily” and Abner Snopes’ father in “Barn Burning” to accept and cope with their changing environments leads to an even greater quarrel with their neighbors; in each of Faulkner’s stories, this inability escalates into a horrific murder. “A Rose for Emily” and “Barn Burning” are filled with gross contradictions that make conflict unavoidable.In “A Rose for Emily,” different characters hold two opposing views of time itself. The first interpretation of time is that of a “world as present, a mechanical progression” (West 75). The narrator, the new Board of Aldermen, Homer Barron, and the newest generation represent this interpretation. These individuals, holding a new, less restricted point of view, prefer to keep everything set down in books, a practice strongly disapproved of by those who interpret their time as a “world of tradition, divided from us by the most recent decade of years” (West 75). Emily Grierson and her Negro servant, Colonel Sartoris, and the old Board of Aldermen represent this old view. This old view of time prefers the social decorum associated with the Old South. All of the supporters of the old view are survivors of the Civil War, and it is no coincidence that these are the same people who continue to deny the changing customs of the post-war society. Furthermore, the jumbled order of events in “A Rose for Emily” symbolizes the South’s struggle to maintain pace with the accelerating industrialization in the North (West 72). The South’s struggle causes it to be a “culture unable to cope with its own death and decay” (West 72). The overall conflict between the old and new thought can also be viewed as a rivalry between the pragmatic present and the set traditions of the past (West 75).Emily Grierson, the main character in “A Rose for Emily,” is the old view’s main advocate. She fails to see that she is in a new age, one not bound by past promises (West 75). Emily is obsessed with halting the unwavering passage of time, and it is her obsession that causes her to be unable to accept death. Emily’s problem is first accounted for when she cannot accept her father’s death; later, it causes tension in the community after the death of Colonel Sartoris, who had previously exempted her of her taxes. Emily fails to recognize the death of Colonel Sartoris, so she adamantly refuses to pay her taxes even with the new Board of Aldermen in control. Emily’s stubbornness contributes to her desolation, and while she is “shut away from the world, she grows into something monstrous” (Stone 75). Her monstrousness reaches a pinnacle when she poisons Homer Barron. Because she is unable to cope with the deterioration of her life, she attempts to blur the past and the present together. By murdering Homer Barron and the new view he represents, Emily can bring her only love into her state of mind. She locks him in a room in her dilapidated home, and “what was left of him had become inextricable from the bed in which he lay” (West 75). The room truly becomes timeless, as all the objects held within its walls remain untouched. West is correct when he states, “When the circumvention of time produces acts of violence, the atmosphere becomes one of horror” (73). Emily Grierson’s strict adherence to the old view causes her desolation and Homer Barron’s murder.On the contrary side, Homer Barron, although ironically Emily’s only love, stands for the exact opposite of Emily. Homer is a workingman accustomed to machinery, while Emily is considered a testament of Southern gentility (West 74). Homer refuses to be overtaken by time and tradition as Emily would have wished, but when Emily kills Homer he clearly falls victim to Emily’s way of life. West contends that, unlike Emily, Homer is unheroic because he relies too heavily on his selfish philosophy – a philosophy based on a selfish exploitation without any regard to his relationship to the past and impact on the future (West 74).Similar to “A Rose for Emily,” in “Barn Burning” the two main characters, Abner Snopes and his son Sarty, hold differing opinions that cause conflict. Abner has a “habit of burning down something every time he gets angry” (Bernardo). Sarty recognizes his father’s psychological problem and begins to question what is more important: sticking up for his family or doing what is right. According to Karen Bernardo:At the story’s beginning, when Sarty was ready to testify that his father did not burn down that barn, he would have done it because a son’s job is to stick to his father. At the story’s end, he warns Major de Spain that his father is about to burn down his beautiful plantation, even though he knows that this will bring his family down once and for all, even though he knows that this means he will never be able to go home again.Abner Snopes’ bitterness toward Major de Spain largely stems from jealousy. The de Spain’s are wealthy, powerful aristocratic Southerners; the Snopes are among the South’s lower class: sharecroppers with little money and pride.The disagreement over time in “A Rose for Emily” and the class struggle in “Barn Burning” causes the characters in the short stories to live in conflict. It is the characters’ narrow point of view and unwillingness to compromise that makes a resolution of their conflicts impossible. William Faulkner uses these circumstances to make his short stories unforgettable.

A Rose for the Landlady: A Dissection of the Affections of the Dahl and Faulkner’s Macabre Murderesses

Roald Dahl and William Faulkner explore the curious connection between love and death through their tales of passion-induced murder. Dahl’s “The Landlady” and Faulkner’s “A Rose for Emily” are remarkably similar, but diverge on key elements of the narrative, namely the differences between the love Miss Emily shows Homer Barron and the “love” the Landlady shows her victims. By juxtaposing these works and analyzing “The Landlady” through the context of its differences to “A Rose for Emily,” it becomes apparent that, unlike Miss Emily, the Landlady does not love her victims. Instead, she idolizes their beauty without regard to their identities as people.

To begin, the difference in setting establishes both Emily’s love for her victim and the Landlady’s lack of love for her victims. The Landlady has created a trap; everything about her lodgings is meant to be charming and inviting. Upon seeing animals through the window, Billy notes that “Animals were usually a good sign in a place like this” (Dahl 1), but the animals are purposefully placed, acting as lures. Her sincerity is as much a facade as the stuffed pets that decorate her establishment. In parallel, the Grierson house is entirely private to all but Miss Emily, her servant and Homer Barron. The environment Miss Emily creates for her victim is protective. She does not enclose him in a prison, but his own little world inside her home — one where nothing exists outside their love for each other. The room is supposed to convey their marital but there are details that imply the space is meant specifically for Homer Barron. Not only are a “suit, carefully folded; beneath it the two mute shoes and the discarded socks” (Faulkner V) found in the room but so are the silver toilet things with his initials on them. These details show that Miss Emily does not merely want a groom, but Homer Barron specifically. Compare this again to the environment from “The Landlady.” Because of the nature of her method of killing, the Landlady is incapable of personalizing the environment in which she kills. She tells Billy, “I’m inclined to be… choosy and particular… But I’m always ready. Everything is always ready day and night in this house just on the off-chance that an acceptable young gentleman will come along” (Dahl 2). Always being ready means the environment is constantly being changed; a room cannot be left for years at a time and be suitable to sleep in when finally used. After comparing the environments where Miss Emily and the Landlady conduct their murders, it becomes clear that the efforts Miss Emily makes to personalize her space show that she genuinely loves her victim, while, in contrast, the Landlady’s readiness for anyone who meets her expectations shows she does not hold the same depth of affection for her victims.

One of the most revealing differences between the sentiments Miss Emily and the Landlady have for their victims is the details of the victims themselves. The Landlady is a serial killer with three victims, all strangers, by the end of her story. Miss Emily has only one confirmed victim: her fiancé Homer Barron. Although the difference at first seems inconsequential, it shows that the Landlady has less regard for her victims than Miss Emily has for hers. Billy Weaver’s accounts of his stay at the Bed and Breakfast clearly demonstrate that the Landlady is collecting young men based solely on their objective, attractive qualities. After remarking that Billy is an acceptable applicant to her establishment, the narration notes that “her blue eyes travelled slowly all the way down the length of Billy’s body, to his feet, and then up again” (Dahl 2). This gesture, in particular, denotes sexual objectification. When the Landlady sexually objectifies Billy, she turns him into a means to an end, a tool that she uses in order to support her obsession. And by the end, he is a literal object to her. In their findings on serial murder, Ronald M. Holmes and Stephen T. Holmes write, “The victim must fulfill the killer’s fantasy for him to be satisfied. Since most… serialists kill for sexual purposes, it is evident that the victim should… possess attractive traits” (Holmes and Holmes 223). This “fantasy” is unsustainable, as evidenced by the Landlady taking multiple victims, but it is also unfulfilling as an emotional connection. On multiple occasions, the Landlady misidentifies or even forgets the names of those she has killed:

Because later on, if I happen to forget what you were called, then I can always come down here and look it up. I still do that almost every day with Mr Mulholland and Mr… Mr… (Dahl 5).

She does not appear to need a connection with them before killing. Any “love” she could harbour for them is based on superficial qualities.

Further evidence that the Landlady does not love her victims, but idolizes their beauty, comes from juxtaposing her victims to Homer Barron. Unlike the Landlady and her victims, it is clear that Miss Emily and Homer Barron have a connection. The narrator notes that “the streets had been finished some time” (Faulkner IV), yet Homer Barron stays in Jefferson with Miss Emily, presumably for her company. Additionally, the room containing Homer Barron’s corpse is described as “decked and furnished as for a bridal” (Faulkner V), confirming that they had intentions to marry. Cluff, Hunter and Hinch explain a situation extremely similar to Miss Emily’s in their essay on female serial killers: “Female serialists avoid detection… in part because there is a reluctance by the community, including the police, to believe that these women are killers. Typically, the community feels pity for these women who have tragically lost someone close to them” (Cluff and Hunter and Hinch 296). Much like the scenario described, Miss Emily having killed Homer Barron does not undermine her love for him; she still very clearly cares. Because of their relationship, Miss Emily’s motive for murdering her intended appears to be love, and more specifically, a fear that, like her father, he will leave her. Miss Emily is clearly unperturbed by death, so “leaving,” in this case, refers to the physical body being taken away from her. The reader is shown how Miss Emily handles the death of a loved one from her actions after her father’s death: “Miss Emily met [the townswomen] at the door, dressed as usual and with no trace of grief on her face. She told them that her father was not dead. She did that for three days… Just as they were about to resort to law and force, she broke down” (Faulkner II). “She broke down” appears to imply that she stopped denying that her father was dead. However, this is not supported by Miss Emily’s actions after killing Homer Barron. Instead, her actions seem to show that she does not view death as the end of her loved ones’ existences.

While discussing the dichotomies found in Miss Emily’s character, Dennis W. Allen writes that her narrative is “concerned with the mutation and corruption of bodies, with violations of the line between life and death” (Allen 686). Homer Barron’s corpse is not shown to have had any attempt made to preserve it; his body ages along with Miss Emily. In a way, they fulfill the promise of marriage and spend their lives together. The Landlady conveys a completely different objective in her murders. When the Landlady kills young men, she does not allow them to decompose like Miss Emily but is heavily implied to taxidermy them: “I stuff all my little pets myself when they pass away” (Dahl 5). She is indirectly referring to Billy when she says this, not only confirming her intentions but also reaffirming that she does not see him as a person, but a commodity. While Homer Barron’s intentions to stay with Miss Emily are ambiguous, the reader is perfectly aware that the men who stay at the Bed and Breakfast have no intention to stay with the Landlady. Both rob their victims of their autonomy, but the Landlady is actively violating her victims even after death. Comparing the Landlady’s murders to Miss Emily’s crime provides clear evidence that the Landlady does not love her victims, but merely wishes to preserve their beauty.

Both “A Rose for Emily” and “The Landlady” expertly handle the subject of murder committed because of passion. Though the two share many similarities, by comparing the Landlady’s murders to Miss Emily’s, it becomes clear that the Landlady does not love her victims, but is instead infatuated with their physical beauty and is uninterested by their identities as people. The environments convey Miss Emily’s attempts to create a safe, personal space for Homer Barron while the Landlady merely keeps a tidy open room for the men who fall for her trap. Additionally, the details of the victims expose both the deep affection Miss Emily has for Homer Barron and the superficial attraction the Landlady feels for her tenants. Comparing these works tells the reader that not all murders are created equal; even such a cruel act can be born of pure intentions.

Works Cited

Allen, Dennis W. “Horror and Perverse Delight: Faulkner’s “A Rose for Emily”.” Modern Fiction Studies, Vol. 30, No. 4 (Winter 1984), pp. 685-696.

Cluff, Julie, and Allison Hunter, and Ronald Hinch. “Feminist Perspectives on Serial Murder: A Critical Analysis.” Homicide Studies, Vol. 1, No. 3, August 1997, pp. 291-308.

Dahl, Roald. “A Rose for Emily.” David Higham Associates, teachingenglish.org.uk/sites/teacheng/files/landlady_text.pdf. Accessed 9 Apr. 2018.

Faulkner, William. “A Rose for Emily.” xroads.virginia.edu/~drbr/wf_rose.html. Accessed 9 Apr. 2018.

Holmes, Ronald M. and Stephen T. Holmes. Serial Murder. SAGE Publications, Inc., 2010.

How the Southern Hierarchy “Others” Black Women in Literature: Absalom, Absalom!, “That Evening Sun Goes Down,” and “Desiree’s Baby”

William Faulkner created Yokopatpua County to constitute a world in which his fictional stories/novels would take place and fit into the southern gothic genre. Within this town is tragedy, death, racism, gender role reversal, and a social hierarchy urging to be broken. Although he did not create this genre, his work certainly made it more noteworthy. Among this genre, other authors portray the real-life hardships of living in the deep south such as Kate Chopin, in the short story Desiree’s Baby. By examining Desiree’s Baby and comparing it Faulkner’s works such as That Evening Sun Goes Down and the novel Absalom, Absalom! one can see that racism is a distinguishing feature among this genre. Specifically, racism towards black women that features the sexualization of their bodies, and violence towards them. In an article in the New York Times by John Sullivan, they say that Faulkner sets up these storylines surrounding the civil war not to just make the story feel more authentically southern, but to add the intrinsic fixation of the south within the stories themselves. Sullivan says “No book that tries to dissect the South’s psyche like that can overlook its founding obsession: miscegenation.” (Sullivan.) From this, one can interpret that within the colonialism and removal of natives by land-hungry plantation owners, lies the mixing of races, a large focal point of southern development. By examining works from two distinctive southern authors it can tie in multiple plots that will ultimately lead to one conclusion; within southern works black women are discriminated against from the white hierarchy of the south. Starting by examining William Faulkner’s Absalom, Absalom! Mr. Compson seeks to explicate how women are separated into categories in the south during the 19th century by saying “The other sex is separated into three sharp divisions, separated (two of them) by a chasm which could be crossed but one time and in but one direction—ladies, women, females—the virgins whom gentlemen someday married, the courtesans to whom they went to while on sabbaticals to the cities, the slave girls and women upon whom that first caste rested and to whom in certain cases it doubtless owed the very fact of its virginity…”(Faulkner 87). Mr. Compson separates women into categories he thinks every female at the time falls into. By reviewing character from all three works, Desiree’s Baby, Absalom, Absalom! and “That Evening Sun Goes Down”, each female cannot quite fit into one of his categories during their appearances in the works. For example, Desiree was an example of a lady whom a man would eventually want to marry but would discover to be tainted by African American bloodlines. Nancy would have been seen as a black female of service to white families, specifically white men. A confusing character to place into Mr. Compson’s “hierarchy of southern women” is Charles Bon’s octoroon mistress. While she was married to Bon at one point, she would not fall under the “women gentlemen would want to marry” category, but can’t be equated to a slave at that time. Readers can only understand her character through passed down information from other characters. Stephanie Li in an article called “Resistance, Silence, and Places” she says “Mr. Compson presents us with a fantasy figure who becomes the vehicle through which he expounds his views concerning women, sexuality, and race.”(Li 88). This fantasy figure is the octoroon mistress who is talked about very little, except when Judith finds a picture of the mistress and the child she had with Charles Bon. Although Charles himself is a mixed race, he created a version of himself that would be accepted in the white man’s world, which he then portrayed to the characters that tell his perspective since Charles is never a character in Absalom, Absalom!. Bon creates the character of his mistress basing her on the fact she was easy for procreation retold by Quentin, “For a price, of course, but a price offered and accepted or declined through a system more formal than any that white girls are sold under since they are more valuable as commodities than white girls, raised and trained to fulfill a woman’s sole end and purpose: to love, to be beautiful, to divert…”(Faulkner 93). The Octoroon mistress is not only a service to Bon but also Quentin because Quentin loves to be able to put together the pieces of Bon’s puzzle. From Quentin’s portrayal, we learn that Bon marries her originally to have children but then later when Judith, a woman who a man would want to marry is an option, she becomes Bon’s goal for procreation. Li goes on to say “Neither Sutpen nor Bon envisions a world to which their children can belong. Both create fantasies exclusively for men like themselves, with the requirement, at least on the part of Sutpen, that their heirs be exact versions of themselves.”(Li 89). Without it being possible to have an heir be accepted in a white man’s world, the octoroon mistress is further othered and evermore expendable. This situation is similar to the experience Desiree goes through with her husband Armand in Desiree’s Baby. Desiree is introduced as a character with unknown genealogy, having the readers infer she is of a mixed race. This causes intense speculation after the birth of her child, from which he then uses to his advantage. He is worried his mixed genealogy will be found out and risk losing his “design.” A white man’s ideal design during this time includes land for a successful plantation, wealth, and heir to the family line. Armand, who takes pride in his inheritance and home, has to produce the lineage of his family with a male heir. He also likes to be in control which is shown when the slaves say how he runs the plantation differently than his father. By using Desiree for a test trial of how his children would look, he is in control of his lineage. In “ Fear and Desire: Regional Aesthetics and Colonial Desire in Kate Chopin’s Portrayals of the Tragic Mulatta Stereo” by Dagmar Pegues, he points out an obsession with using a black woman’s body in narrative and stories: “In the context of the examination of the work of Kate Chopin, the fetishization of the black body, i.e. the fear of the racial Other and a coexistent desire projected toward the body of the tragic mulatta, embodies the complex and paradoxical nature of stereotype as a confluence of knowledge and power.”(Pegues 6). Armand agrees to marry her while knowing her background may have octoroon blood in it, shown right before they get married “Monsieur Valmonde grew practical and wanted things well considered: that is the girl’s obscure origin. Armand looked into her eyes and did not care. He was reminded she was nameless.”(Chopin 403). If their child looked obviously black he would be able to direct the blame to the mother rather than himself, whom he knew was of mixed race. Ellen Peel says “In addition, namelessness has a particularly female cast in this society, since women, including Desiree, lose their last name. What did it matter about a name when he could give her one of the oldest and proudest in Louisiana?”(Peel 226). He does not care what Desiree’s past could be because he thinks his name can erase it for their son who is a necessity for Armand to carry on his family name. He tried to associate the blame on Desiree for the color of their child’s skin. “That the child is not white; it means that you are not white.”(Chopin 403). He knew she would be too embarrassed to stay knowing she was the reason he had a black child, thus she felt she has ruined his family when she begs for her mother to tell her it cannot be true. “For God’s sake tell them it is not true. You must know it is not true. I shall die. I must die. I cannot be so unhappy, and live.”(Chopin 404). Desiree is sexually and racially othered by Armand because she does not fit into his white patriarchal system that she had believed to be pure. Pegues also points out an obsession with using a black woman’s body in narrative and stories: “examining one plateau of the sexualized stereotype of the dusky-eyed, exotic quadroons and octoroons, i.e. the desirability of their bodies for their white masters, which paradoxically underlies the perpetuation of the white southern hierarchy, as well as by examining portrayals of (sexual and non-sexual) violence and victimization of the black body”(Pegues 2). Armand, as the master in this scenario, was attracted to Desiree knowing that she was adopted with an unknown background making her more mysterious and attractive to him. He made use of her body and fertility, but when his son was black she was no longer of use. William Faulkner’s short story “That Evening Sun Goes Down” shows the victimization and sexualizing of the black female’s body through Nancy’s character who is sexually exploited by her white male clients and violently victimized by her husband. Nancy seeks to threaten the southern hierarchy by standing up to her white counterparts in the story. She is victimized by white men while they use her body sexually as a prostitute, manually by doing their laundry, and mentally as she begins to understand place within the black/white divide during the story. In an article by Laurel Bollinger called “Narrating Racial Identity and Transgression in Faulkner’s “That Evening Sun”, she explains that while Nancy challenges the hegemony, she is met with violence that highlights the racial divide even more. At first when Nancy stands up to Mr. Stovall and requests her payment for her services she does not take his no for a final answer. She persists by saying “When you going to pay me, white man? It’s been three times now since you paid me a cent-” which is where her speech is interrupted by him hitting her (Faulkner 295). Nancy continues to challenge him and ask for her money until she is put in jail by a white police officer. Both her getting hit, then being put into jail retracted any power she had within the hierarchy. In an article from the Journal of American Studies, Drik Kuyk explores Nancy using the Compsons from protection of violence by offering the interpretation that “Nancy’s plans to use the Compsons to shield herself from the badman Jesus – to have them walk home with her, to have the children stay with her in her cabin, or to take sanctuary in the Compsons’ kitchen or even in the children’s bedrooms – were thus unlikely to succeed.”(Kuyk 40). In this particular part of the story, race roles are reversed in the fact that her black husband is the antagonist and she is trying to seek shelter from a white family. The only issue is the Compsons feel no obligation to keep her safe due to her not being devoted to the Compson family, only coming to their aid once Dilsey fell ill. Nancy’s power is ultimately relinquished when she gives herself up and refused Mr. Compson to chaperone her to Jesus’s mother’s house. The author of the “Black Culture in William Faulkner’s “That Evening Sun Goes Down.” in Journal Of American Studies, also offer up an explanation of Jesus’s name and how it correlates to Nancy power deterioration. Dirk Kuyk says “Jesus’ attack, if it comes, will stem from sexual jealousy and will take exactly the same form as Nancy herself threatens against him. Finally, Nancy reports that Jesus has said that she has “woke up the devil” in him, hardly a remark from a Christ figure. Christian morality suggests that the reason for her feeling that she is to be punished comes from her relationship with Mr. Stovall.”(Kuyk 43). If Nancy is not being punished by a figure of Christ, but the opposite, Nancy will assume that God is no longer with her, therefore, the reason she no longer fights for protection at the end letting the white family return to their home where they will be safe, and her violent black husband come back for her. The violence explicated towards Nancy by not only Mr. Stovall, and Jesus, but also the Compson family is relative to the violence Ellen Peel depicts towards Desiree in “Semiotic Subversion.” She says “Neither has a “proper” name, only a descriptive one.” (Peel 226). During the scene in which Armand rejects his wife, he explicitly points out the physical resemblance between the women: “As white as La Blanche’s,” he returned cruelly.”(Chopin 403). While it does not clearly state that he is abusive to Desiree, Armand is not portrayed to be sweet loving towards her until after the baby is born making it seem that is the only reason he grows more loving. This violence toward the black body is explicated within Desiree’s Baby when it is known Desiree’s husband is a violent slave owner, who also takes advantage of Desiree’s unknown background. “I believe, chiefly because it is a boy to bear his name; though he says not,- that he would have loved a girl as well. But I know this isn’t true.” (Chopin 402). Desiree admits she is scared of her husband’s violence, possibly showing he has been violent towards her. She then goes on to say “He hasn’t punished one of them-not one of them-since baby is born. Even Negrillon, who pretended to have burnt his leg that he might rest from work- he only laughed and said Negrillon was a great scamp. Oh, mamma I’m so happy; it frightens me.”(Chopin 402). Although Faulkner does not give the details about the relationship between Clytie’s mother and Sutpen, his character can be equivalated to Armand just the same. After dismissing Wash Jones, while sleeping with his granddaughter Sutpen’s irresponsibility and cruelty are represented. Another time is while Sutpen asks Rosa Coldfield to marry him, but only after they have a child so he can have an heir. Linda Dunleavy in “Marriage and the Invisibility of Women in Absalom, Absalom!” examines the situation as Rosa being the only woman who cannot give men the ability to belittle her, although she wants to be the woman or the lady that Mr. Compson earlier said gentleman will marry. She explains the situation by saying “Aware that she is inscribing herself into absence, Rosa agrees to marry Sutpen because she wants to have a sexual life and wants to have access to the female experience.” (Dunleavy 458). This specific event correlates to the women’s inability to have control over themselves and if Rosa would have agreed, she would have been in Sutpen’s power. To explore the othering of black women incorporated in these stories, looking into the relationship between “white masters and their slaves” would help develop these ideas further. In the south, having slaves during this period was not uncommon and are often incorporated in the stories. While Nancy is a free woman, she lives to serve white families by doing their laundry, watching their children, and giving sexual favors to white men. When she tries to cross the barrier of separate white and black stereotypical roles, she is met with violence from the white men scared of her gaining a higher stance within the southern hierarchy. Janet Barnwell explains this situation in “ Narrative Patterns of Racism and Resistance in the Work of William Faulkner” by saying Faulkner uses a poor black character such as Nancy to be abandoned and show the position of the poor black class itself. She says “In the earlier texts, Faulkner sets in motion plots in which an excluded character, a “black” character, is abandoned “when the crisis of[his or] her need came” by a white male character who could be called a “moderate” With “That Evening Sun” so these narratives could be said to emphasize the position of the one who is poor, black, and excluded”( Barnwell 129). Moreover, Thomas Sutpen who was a slave owner is Absalom, Absalom! worked with his slaves to create his plantation, within his design. But, he also had Clytie with a slave woman he impregnated, returning to the idea that white men have a desire for their slave’s bodies. Similarly, in Desiree’s Baby, La Blanche is a slave on Armand’s plantation who could possibly have a child with Armand. While Desiree is coming to terms with her son’s skin color, she compares his to La Blanche’s child, making another connection between Armand and La Blanche. La Blanche works on the plantation and just like Nancy in “That Evening Sun Goes Down”, serves the white families and their needs dominated by their hierarchy. In “Narrating Racial Identity and Transgression in Faulkner’s ‘That Evening Sun.” Laurel Bollinger says, that once Nancy’s strong character has been silenced, the male hierarchy that she challenged at first, becomes her ultimate demise but not just through her husband, white male clients, or Mr. Compson but through Jason who is still a child. Eventually, Jason will be the one in control she says, “Jason’s efforts at establishing a binary opposition of racial categories invokes the claim to interpretive authority implicit in his eventual position as an adult white male.” (Bollinger 62). Jason challenges her placement in their world due to his eventual place in the Faulknerian hierarchy, this is another loss for Nancy’s character that will lead her to her lowest point of giving into the male supremacy. Nancy struggles at the end of the story to keep her sanity and tries to use the whiteness of the Compson family to protect her. To elaborate more on the white men within these stories dominating the hierarchy, Thomas Sutpen in Absalom, Absalom! tells General Compson that in order to achieve his design he would require the following things: money, a house, a plantation, slaves, a family incidentally, of course, a wife. Just as Armand required the same to be content with himself, both portraying the southern male ideals of success and happiness. After Desiree leaves Armand, he may decide to follow in Sutpen’s footsteps and remarry in hopes that he has an heir that can be socially accepted. Thomas Sutpen needed to marry Ellen in order to produce his heir and gain the respect of the town to complete his design of becoming a true southern man with respect within the community, the same as Armand. His desire to marry Judith stems from that, and the hope to make Henry proud. Stephanie Li in the article “Resistance, Silence, and Placées: Charles Bon’s Octoroon Mistress” talked about Bon and Henry’s intricate relationship which added complications to Bon. “Although Bon’s mistress embodies a chaos of identities that overturns all pretense of order, Henry perceives her primarily through the lens of sexual desire. For Henry, issues of race and class are irrelevant in a social order that grants white men the freedom of sexual dominance.”(Li 92). confirming that the male characters within these southern stories all feel a dominance over the women especially black women. To conclude, by examining the works of William Faulkner, and comparing them to another southern gothic text, such as Desiree’s Baby, one can see similar qualities attributed to the era and location of the stories. The stores that are being presented in the south created the tensions of class difference, racism, sexism, and a constant theme of othering, without including the conflict of the plot. In “Narrative patterns of racism and resistance in the work of William Faulkner” Janet Barnwell said, “Rather than familiarizing oneself with southern community, a reader should read more of Faulkner’s texts to understand not Faulkner’s “community”—there is not only one community–or even “the South,” but instead to comprehend the narrative oppositions that Faulkner repeatedly sets up.”(Barnwell 50). This explains the constant othering of black women in the south shown through not only “Faulkner’s community”, but through the facts of what “the south” itself represented at the time. This theme progressed with Faulkner’s short stories such as “That Evening Sun Goes Down”, by using physical symbols represent the segregation of the town. To further separate the race, and class division within the story, Nancy is oppressed by the white families. Within the southern narrative, one can see that racism and class division is obvious and straightforward and authors each represent it with similar conflicts their characters endure. Charles Bon’s octoroon Mistress is othered by Bon who like other male characters has a white man’s dream to fit in the hierarchy of that society. Her story is not told first hand, giving the males the power to fantasize and sexualize her character in a way they seem fit. John Sullivan explains the narrative of Absalom, Absalom! such as “Faulkner needed Sutpen’s story to be not just authentically but intrinsically Southern this way, less a symbol than an instance of the Southern principle ”(Sullivan). To make these narrative feel more intrinsically southern the women not only are ostracized to their roles of black women but face violence and abandonment in each story. Desiree, in Desiree’s Baby, was abandoned and victimization due to her not fitting Armand’s original idea of how their relationship would turn out ultimately giving into the male supremacy. Each black woman in the three stories struggles with the southern hierarchy and where they fit into it. Relating back to Mr. Compson’s explanation of the female hierarchy, all three characters do not quite fit into a category giving a reason for them being victimized even further. After recognizing the colonialism, greedy plantation owners, and the social divide, one is left with the racism that is a large focal point of each story. Southern authors aim to depict the real south within southern gothic works that reveal the concern of discrimination and acknowledgement of black women being discriminated against inside of the white-male hierarchy.

Death vs. Life

“A Rose for Emily,” written by Faulkner in 1931, looks back at the life of Emily Grierson once she passes away and as some acquaintances and family members of hers go through her house and belongings. Faulkner uses a very detailed plot of Emily’s life and uses the deaths of both her father and Homer, her lover, to highlight Emily’s fear of abandonment and how one’s life events create such psychological issues.

The story is given from a third-person narrator, which allows for the reader to get an unbiased perspective since seeing it from Emily’s point of view might not show how strange her reactions were, and begins with Emily’s funeral, only to go back in time and talk about Emily’s life from her childhood up to her death. By going back and explaining essential details of Emily’s life, the narrator brings up possible reasons as to why Emily had such a fear of abandonment, which led her to keep Homer’s body and sleep next to him until she died. First, it seems that her mother died when she was at a young age since her mother is never mentioned and it is said that it was always just her and her dad. Growing up without a mother can be a plausible reason for a fear of abandonment, meaning that that is the first event of causation for her psychological issue showed in the text. Secondly, her father always isolated her from the town and from young men who could have been suitors, since “None of the young men were quite good enough for Miss Emily and such.” (Faulkner 4). This isolation and lack of finding a suitor, which is made evident that it is something she would have wanted by the way she acted towards Homer, must have felt as if she was being abandoned by the town since they never reached out to her. Lastly, her father dying and leaving her alone in the house was the final event in leading her to the extreme in her fear of abandonment and was the leading event to her actions with Homer.

“After her father’s death she went out very little; after her sweetheart went away, people hardly saw her at all” (Faulkner 3) compares the two men and how their abandonment affected Emily deeply. After her father died, she spent three days refusing to admit that he had died and refusing to give the body to anyone. Years after her father had passed, she had “a crayon portrait of Miss Emily’s father” (Faulkner 2), which shows that she was still not ready to let go and had a deep fear of being alone. Not only does this show how hard of a time she had letting him go and realizing that he had abandoned her by dying, but this also foreshadows that she would keep Homer’s body; with nobody forcing her to give up the body and nobody asking questions about whether he was dead, no one broke her down, and she kept his body until her death. However, it is also interesting to focus on the fact that she murdered Homer in order to make sure he would not leave her. The narrator makes it clear that Homer “liked men” (Faulkner 6) and that he had already left her before. Her going to such great lengths as getting arsenic to poison him, only to keep his body in a room upstairs and to sleep with him every night, shows a deep mental and psychological disturbance based on a fear of abandonment. Although it is not told clearly that she killed him and laid with him, the reader is shown a scene where she bought arsenic and is later showed a room within her house where “the man himself lay in the bed” (Faulkner 9) and “that in the second pillow was the indentation of a head…[and] a long strand of iron-gray hair” (Faulkner 9), which automatically tells the reader that it is Emily’s hair since it is previously mentioned that she had gray hair. Faulkner uses her actions after her father’s death and similar, but escalated and aggravated, actions after her lover tries to leave her, to show how one with deep fear of abandonment might react to the idea of being left and to the thought of being alone.

Faulkner’s writing style allows for the reader to see how Emily acted from a third-person perspective and to understand what had happened in her past that created her fear of abandonment and her fear of loneliness. By showing both the death of her father and her killing her lover, the reader can see the progression of her actions towards insanity, all of which derived from her fear. By doing so, Faulkner highlights the ideas behind the fear of abandonment and focuses the reader in on a psychological issue, or flaw, in the main character.

The Ignominy of Insanity

Mental illnesses have always carried a stigma with their name and their history as people who suffer from these disorders have always struggled to face the misconception and the shame that came from being involuntarily affected by such disorders. In each story, the authors, Charlotte Perkins Gilman and William Faulkner, use the theme of insanity to bring attention to problems within their eras regarding the topic of mental disorders and isolation. Gilman’s story, The Yellow Wallpaper, deals with how a woman’s mental state gradually declines as she is forced to remain in isolation to cure what was thought of as a “nervous condition” back then. Faulkner tells the story of Emily Grierson in A Rose For Emily and how she, longing for companionship and love, is driven to insanity as isolation take a toll on her. Gilman uses the theme of insanity in order to shed light on mental illness treatments for women at the time, also using the main character as a symbol for oppression faced by women before the 20th century. Faulkner uses insanity in a way that demonstrates the devastating mental effects caused by extreme isolation, focusing on Emily’s alienation and what it led to.

Charlotte Gilman had been diagnosed with a “nervous condition”; similarly, the unnamed narrator in The Yellow Wallpaper says she is suffering from a “temporary” nervous condition that her husband, John, does not seem to fully acknowledge. John, an experienced physician, says it is nothing to worry about, and provides her with a common treatment given to women diagnosed with such conditions— isolation. This plotline fabricated by Gilman brings attention towards the topic of ethical treatments for both women and mental disorders during this time. In the beginning of the short story, the unnamed narrator states,“If a physician of high standing, and one’s own husband, assures friends and relatives that there is really nothing the matter with one but temporary nervous depression,—a slight hysterical tendency,—what is one to do?”. Gilman’s word choice for describing her condition adds to her own uncertainty of her state, as her outside environment becomes the main influence in her mentality. The males in this story all seem to be ignorant of the narrator’s problem right from the start, adding to the symbolization of female oppression. Women were no more than just house wives and companions during the time that this story was written; that is, around the 19th and early 20th centuries. Their problems were overlooked and as a result of being constantly locked inside their houses, women were more prone to hysteria than men were. However, the treatment given to women suffering from hysteria were usually very ineffective, causing the problem to worse rather than be solved. Gilman brings this information into the spotlight as she describes her character progressively losing her mind while being isolated from social interaction— that is, besides her own husband, child, and sister-in-law. The wallpaper is a key element that plays in the role of her mind slipping into insanity, as it is there that she finds companionship in a woman “trapped” behind the wallpaper patterns, and later, comes to believe that it is in fact her own self inside the walls.

Faulkner uses Emily’s story to bring attention to the ill effects of isolation and what one’s environment is capable. Emily is subjected the constant gossip from the townspeople as the story progresses, ranging from pitiful remarks to sarcastic comments. In fact, it is them who give the reader their own interpretation of Emily as a sacred, yet pitiful, symbol of tradition, but even then, the neighbors check and criticize her every move. Rather than give aid, they further pushed Emily into isolation with their remarks and rumors, distancing her further away than what she had been before the death of her father. She was left completely alone and to her own mercy, for all her potential lovers had been driven away by the only protector and family Emily had. The narrator of the story states, “We remembered all the young men her father had driven away, and we knew that with nothing left, she would have to cling to that which had robbed her, as people will.” Faulkner’s usage of the word “robbed” leaves an open view to Emily’s character development, open to the reader’s own interpretation; it could be that her father was to blame for her loneliness. Perhaps, this had been a warning about Emily’s obsessive longing for companionship, as she had clung to her dead father for three days before letting him go and having the corpse buried. Similarly, when Emily poisons Homer Barron, it must have been an act of helplessness rather than malice. Emily’s persistence even after Barron’s rejection must have left no choice in her mindset but to have him stay by force— murder. Emily was pushed, not to the brink, but further into the depths of insanity by neighbors and own long-term isolation.

In earlier centuries, the term “insane” would describe someone who was mentally disturbed. These labels were more common for females, as they were often disregarded and not taken seriously. Because of these views people had towards women with disorders, treatments were not quite reasonable or ethical. Charlotte Perkins Gilman is able to demonstrate the effects of isolation as a treatment, and how it had extreme deteriorating effects on the female brain as time progressed. Rather than becoming better, they got worse. Likewise, William Faulkner uses Emily’s story to show the problem with overlooking one’s mental state. Emily had fallen into a deep depression after she was left by her father; she had been pushed further into it with the townspeople’s talk, and to top it off, she had little to no interaction with the outside world for years, driving herself to the point of madness. Both of these authors were capable using their characters, actions, and word choice in order to describe both the causes and the destructive effects of mental disorders effectively.

Old and New Worlds in William Faulkner’s The Bear

In The Bear, William Faulkner uses specific depictions of the wilderness and the main characters of Ben, Ike, and Sam Fathers to represent much more than just a group of guys going on a bear hunt once a year. At first, this book seems like a simple story of a bear hunting adventure, but in reality, it is much more than that; the wilderness and the way the characters act and change in the book represent changes in society during this time in the history. Through analysis of the setting, characters, and symbols, it is obvious that The Bear conveys an intriguing story of a bear hunt that turns into a much deeper story about the wilderness and the societal change during the upbringing of the New West during the 1800’s. As an overall theme, Faulkner uses the wilderness as an important symbol throughout the entirety of the book.

The story begins with the introduction of the long-standing tradition of the annual hunt of the bear, Ben. Ben lives in the wilderness, which Faulkner describes as the “…doomed wilderness” on page 193, instilling fear instantly in the mind of the reader. He also describes the wilderness as “…solitude…” on page 198, drawing a very specific image of an extremely dark and lonely place. The bear has become so infamous in the wilderness as a symbol of fear for hunters that he even earned himself a human name, Ben, and Ike grew up in fear of this bear his entire life. Faulkner continues to use very specific word choice when describing the wilderness in order to ensure the idea that men feared the wilderness and whatever was in it, including Ben, the bear. Another example of this is how Faulkner always describes the wilderness as “…the big woods…” (page 192), making it obvious that the wilderness is a key factor of this story. Additionally, Faulkner describes the wilderness as “…tall and endless…” with a “…wall of dense November woods under the dissolving afternoon and the year’s death, somber, impenetrable…” (page 194). This is important because he is showing the audience how the men of this time period felt about the woods and the wilderness as they embark on their yearly hunt into the woods.

After the first chapter, however, it becomes clear that the wilderness becomes an affront to Ike’s success; if he wants to make it as an entrepreneur and planter in this time he must be able to defeat the wilderness, which could, potentially, include killing the bear. As the book continues, it becomes obvious that the wilderness has more to it then just being a scary place, and we begin to understand exactly why Faulkner describes the wilderness in this way. One of the most significant ideas to understand about this story is that even though the first half of the book is based on the annual bear hunt, that is not what they are actually doing. Instead, they are carrying out a tradition, which is important because Ike loves to hold onto tradition, especially when he realizes that the traditional way he lives his life in the Old World is changing as the New West is born. Every year, Ike, Sam Fathers, his cousin McCaslin, as well as a few others, all go hunting for Ben, but it turns out to be more of a tradition than an actual hunt. This is shown on page 200, where Faulkner explains how Ike finally understands how the tradition matters more than the hunt, writing “…he realised that the bear…was a mortal animal and that they had departed for the camp each November with no actual intention of slaying it…” This is a key moment in the story, as it is the moment in which Ike finally understands the deeper meaning behind the annual bear hunt, beginning the transformation from the Old World to the New West. Additionally, Faulkner writes that Ike realizes that “…they were going not to hunt bear…but to keep yearly rendezvous with the bear which they did not even intend to kill” (page 194). This is important because it also shows how the annual hunt for the bear is not really a hunt, but rather, a tradition of old times before all the change that eventually comes with the rise of the New West. This is a key moment in the book because it shows us that the wilderness is used to describe the entire situation of the change of society from Old World to New West, and the shift of priorities for men in this time period to more superficial ideas, such as money and success, rather than what has always been viewed as important to the people of this time. Ike has the hardest time with this transformation, so this is extremely important to note as a moment when Ike first understands that times are changing, and not necessarily for the better. The bear, Sam Fathers, and Lion, the dog, all become clear symbols of the wilderness in chapter 3 because when they die, society shifts and Ike begins to see this change happening right in front of him for himself.

The moment in which the whole story shifts from a story of a hunt to an even bigger story of change into the New West is when Sam, Ben, and Lion all die at the end of chapter 3. After more than 11 years of the annual hunt for the bear, the boys embark on the journey into the wilderness yet again. Out of all people, Boon ends up shooting and killing Ben, and just like that, the bear is dead, after all these years. On page 239, Faulkner writes how the bear’s “…guts are all out of him” when Boon attacks him on the hunt and finally kills him. This is a turning point for the story because for so many years this hunt had been just a tradition and more like a game than an actual hunt. Then, after the bear dies, Sam Fathers dies suddenly, possibly of a stroke or old age. This is another striking moment, which shocks everyone in the group because he is the old man who has been in charge for what seems like ever. Especially to Ike, Sam Fathers was like a father figure. Sam taught Ike everything he knew about hunting, and Ike would not be one of the best “…woodsman…” (page 235) and hunters in the group if it weren’t for Sam Fathers’ guidance and teachings. Everyone is extremely upset when Sam Fathers dies because he is such a key figure that has had a positive effect on almost every character in the story, when McCaslin (Cass) screams at Boon, asking, “Did you kill him, Boon?” (page 251). It is clear here that Sam symbolizes the Old World and the wilderness, as Sam was basically the last one left that believed that the woods and wild should be shared and not be taken over by man with the rise of the New West. Finally, Lion, the hunting dog, dies as well, and it is very obvious at this point that when the bear, Sam Fathers, and Lion all die, the wilderness dies along with them as society switches to the New West.

When the wilderness dies and the Old World disappears with it, Ike begins to see the New West taking over and how it is going to negatively affect the way he knows to live his life, abiding by tradition and customs, as opposed to change and superficiality. This is when it becomes clear that Ike represents the Old World while his cousin, Cass, represents just the opposite; the New West. Ike is all about tradition, and does not want to own or sell anything, does not want to be in control of other humans, while Cass is all for modernizing, moving forward, making money, and being successful in the New World. On page 254, Ike states that not only does he not want to inherit his family legacy and land, but that he believes that “it was never Father’s and Uncle Buddy’s to bequeath [him] to repudiate because it was never Grandfather’s to bequeath to them to bequeath to [him]” on page 254. Ike thinks that the land was taken and cleared many years ago from the Indians in an unfair way, so the land isn’t even theirs to be able to take over and control, so he doesn’t want any part of it. Ike also uses the bible as evidence in saying that if you read the bible right, you will see that men were never intended to own the land. We see the divide in Ike and Cass here, as Ike stands with the wilderness and lower class characters like Boon, when he stands with him at Sam Fathers’ grave site, not wanting to be associated with his family heritage and land and the money of old McCaslin. However, Ike finds his family ledger books in the commissary in chapter 4, and a new, important symbol is created. These ledger books are where Ike reads about the family history of how they first obtained the land, had slaves, and cleared it, which is what strikes Ike’s fury and dedication to old times and tradition. Through reading the ledgers, Ike learns that his grandfather committed terrible things, such as incest, which lead to the deaths of other people and a whole other black side of the family which is usually kept as a secret for the McCaslin family. On page 255, Cass responds to Ike by stating that “…nevertheless and notwithstanding old Carothers did own it. Bought it, got it, no matter; kept it, held it, no matter; bequeathed it…” stating that their family bought the land so that makes it theirs to own and control. Here, Cass also responds to Ike’s biblical evidence, stating that “He made the earth first and peopled it with dumb creatures…” and if it were really bad for them to own the land then God would have done something about it by now. This part is important because it alludes to the bible and religion a lot, by also connecting it to the story of Eden and how men have always had a question of ownership as they were kicked out of the first place they lived (in the Garden of Eden). Cass thinks Ike is being an idealist, saying that he didn’t invent land ownership or slavery, and that they are not doing anything different from their ancestors have done for so many years before them. Cass tries to explain his discovery of the New World to Ike on page 254 by stating that it is a new world but that we do the same things; people still own land and slaves, it’s just how the world works. This moment is important because it emphasizes the divide between Ike and Cass, or the Old World and the New World/West, which is the main point of the entire story. This is also important because it shows how Ike is against all the change going on in society around him and how hopeless he feels during this transformation, as a man of the past.

The last important part of the story which helps show the way the world is changing from old times to the New West are all of the racial relations in the book. As the only white male heir, Ike is supposed to inherit the land and money, but Ike finds this wrong, and makes a point to get Tennies Jim and Lucas and all of the black side of his family a $1000 inheritance as well. Additionally, when reading the ledgers, Ike realizes that his family used to own and mistreat slaves as well, and that this is not right. Then, Ike, and perhaps even Faulkner, begins to accept the idea that it was good to end slavery, but that it should have been done differently. On page 290, Ike says that “…what [black people] got not only not from white people but not even despite white people because they had it already from the old free fathers a longer time free than [them] because [they] have never been free…” stating that he feels that the black race is better than the white race. Ike thinks that the way slavery was ended was too abrupt, so former slaves were not prepared to live as independent adults who needed to work for money, and so white people tried to reassert their power. Because of the way northerners fleeted to the south and how unprepared slaves were for life after slavery, Ike feels as though he must protect all of them and take care of them. Then, Ike presents his idea that African Americans will, and should, inherit the south. He believes that it is the African American race’s turn and that they are better than the white race anyway, so they should be able to lift the “curse” (page 294) that Ike believes their families brought to the land all those years ago when they took it from the Indians and took control. This is important to the story as it shows the final idea that Ike has about the change into the New World. Everything around Ike is changing, Sam, Ben and Lion all die, the wilderness dies, and it is time now for a different kind of change. Instead of the change into the New West, Ike wants to change for the better. Instead of working for success and money, Ike thinks they should be changing things like who is in control of the land, as he hates the idea of modernization and change in the society away from the wilderness and towards technology and the New World.

The Bear by William Faulkner begins with a chase for a bear in the woods, but turns into a more complex story of the hunt, which is actually a metaphor for a larger story about how the south changes and how the wilderness goes away. When the bear, Sam Fathers, and Lion all die, this loss symbolizes the loss of the wilderness, which is an even bigger symbol for the loss of the old south and all of its societal ways. When the wilderness dies, we see nature being replaced by commerce, as people used money to purchase property, people, and goods, and stopped caring as much about the nature and wilderness, as Ike did. In the end, Ike goes back to the woods for one last time before Major De Spain sells it all to a lumber company. This moment symbolizes the end of the wilderness and of the old world, and, therefore, the acceptance that the world is changing and the New West is coming. In the end, it is obvious that Ike is so opposed to change and the New West because he hates worldly vanity and all that comes with it. Although Ike’s ideas about the world are nice and seem great, he is just an idealist, while Cass is a more realist thinker. Ike wants things to be as they should be, not as they are, and wants to be free from all the vain people in the New World who are only focused on money and achievement rather than what has always been thought of as important to Ike in the Old World; family, freedom, and equality. Ike says “I’m free” in the last 2 chapters of the book many times, meaning he is free from this type of worldly vanity. As things are changing in society in the south, Ike wishes to be free from the shallowness and superficiality which he believes all people possess in the New West and wants to continue to live life in the Old World, doing as he has always done. In the end, however, Ike ends up married to a woman who is only with him for his money and inheritance, which is clear on page 309, when she asks Ike to “promise” that he will give her his land and money. It is ironic that this happened to Ike because he is the only one who still stands by the wilderness and ways of the Old World once Sam Fathers dies. Throughout the entirety of the story, Ike is a heroic figure, standing up for what he believes is right and fighting for his ideas as societal views shift to New World ideas. However, even after all the fighting for old ways and standing up for what he believed was right, the New West still proved victorious in the end, as society transforms and welcomes the New World, leaving all of the traditions that Ike stood for in the dust, never to look back upon again.

Works Cited

Faulkner, William. Three Famous Short Novels. New York: Vintage, 1961. Print.

A Critique of “Uncovering the Past: The Role of Dust Imagery in A ROSE FOR EMILY”

Aubrey Binder’s “Uncovering the Past: The Role of Dust Imagery in a Rose For Emily’” explains that the motifs of dust and decay are very important and prominent in Faulkner’s story. Binder’s arguments for the motifs are strong, especially for the motif of dust. However, her article provides very little literary evidence for the motif of decay. While I agree with Binder’s motif of dust, I don’t agree with her arguments for the motif of decay, and I believe that the motif of pity would better fit the text.

Binder’s motif of dust is heavily supported in the text. She believes that the dust covering the objects and people in Emily’s home represents the obscuring of past events. She makes it very apparent that the dust does not change or erode the past, it simply hides it. (Binder 5) The dust provides ambiguity which helps to keep the townspeople clueless about what’s really going on inside Emily’s home. To support this statement, Binder points out that Homer Barron’s body was covered in an “even coating of the patient and biding dust.” This quote exemplifies how the dust really conceals parts of Emily’s life from the townspeople. When the townspeople found Homer’s body, it’s like the dust was being brushed away, revealing the truth of the past. The dust shows how events from the past are sometimes discovered, so the dust does not make Emily invincible from outside presence. The dust is brushed away and the past is revealed, altering Miss Emily’s life several times throughout the text. Binder provides an example of this when the government officials come to Miss Emily and tell her that she owes taxes to the town. When the officials enter Miss Emily’s home, they disturb the dust and uncover the fact that Emily does owe taxes to the town. However, Emily, disliking change, held onto Colonel Sartoris’ involved story that made her exempt from taxes.

Binder also states that other elements that aren’t actual events in the story also are affected by the dust. Binder uses the example of the continuous influence of Emily’s father even after his death. “The house filled with dust and shadows…” is a quote from the text that shows how Emily’s father influenced her life. He left her with a very small amount of money, and no husband because of his strict standards. Emily’s father made her unavailable to be wed, Binder links the psychological damage that her father inflicted on her to Homer’s murder. Emily murdered Homer so that he could never leave her. This idea was supported by the following quote from the text, “…and we all knew that with nothing left, she would have to cling to that which had robbed her, as people will.” Emily clinged onto Homer because he was the only thing she had left.

Binder claims that decay is a strong motif in this short story,however she hardly even mentions decay in her review. Binder states that, “The reader finds descriptions of decay in the slow degrading of the town, Emily’s inherited home, and even in the aging Emily herself.” After she describes how decay could be a motif, she goes on to explain the motif of dust but never revisits decay. The rest of Binder’s review is about how dust affected “A Rose for Emily.” Binder makes the very common literary mistake of not providing enough evidence from the text. She jumps to the conclusion that because Miss Emily and her house seem to be decaying that decay a major motif of this story. When really, the decay is more of a description about the setting and Miss Emily herself rather than a motif.

A possible motif that is well supported by literary evidence is the motif of pity and it actually plays an important role in this story. Binder touches on the topic of how the townspeople feel sorry for Emily, but she is doesn’t talk about how very important their pity is. The townspeople were always slightly pitious to the Grierson’s because of how highly they believed themselves to be, when in reality they were not. The townspeople really pitied Emily after her father died. “At last they could pity Miss Emily. Being left alone, and a pauper, she had become humanized…” When her father died, she refused to give the body up the until they threatened to use force. “We did not say she was crazy then. We believed she had to do that.” The townspeople didn’t believe that she was crazy because they knew that her relationship with her father was the only real relationship she had, so when she lost her father the townspeople felt sorry for her. After her father’s death, the town officials remitted her taxes, but to evade the obvious charity of the act, Colonel Sartoris created a story about how Emily’s father loaned money to the town and that remitting Emily’s taxes was the town’s way of repaying the loan. Another example to support the motif of pity is when Emily visits the druggist to buy some arsenic, claiming it was for killing rats. Many of the townspeople suspected that Emily was going to use the poison to kill herself, but they thought it would be ‘the best thing.”

Binder’s article, “Uncovering the Past: The Role of Dust Imagery in a ‘Rose For Emily’” is very well thought out and really captures the story, “A Rose for Emily.” Her motif of dust is supported with textual evidence and is crucial to the story. The dust in Faulkner’s story symbolizes the secrecy of Emily’s life and the unveiling of those secrets. I disagree about her arguments for decay. The element of decay is only a description in the story, however, the motif of pity is well supported by literary evidence and is a crucial element to the story.

Binder, Aubrey. “Uncovering The Past: The Role Of Dust Imagery In A ROSE FOR EMILY.” Explicator 70.1 (2012): 5-7. MasterFILE Elite. Web. 22 Sept. 2016.