The Masterful Descriptions in William Faulkner’s A Rose for Emily
William Faulkner’s “A Rose for Emily” tells a story of a woman who dies and explains the story of her life before her death. The story describes her life, the things she did and the funeral that was held after her death. The story starts be telling how everyone went to her funeral. The men attended because they respected her, and the women went because they wanted to see what was in the inside of her house. When Emily was alive, she did not pay taxes after her father died. The story talks about this a lot. The mayor did not make her pay, and when the next generation mayor came into office, he made her pay, yet she refused. The officers never arrested Emily, but they kept sending tax notices that went unanswered for a long period of time. The story also mentions how Emily claims that he father is not dead. This made people feel bad for Miss Emily, and people claimed she was crazy. The irony in the story is that Emily’s father corpse was kept inside the house.
The story ends describing what the house looked like at her funeral, how everything was covered in dust as if it had not been touched and the way her father looked in the untouched room that no one would open before Emily died. They say “They waiting until Miss Emily was decently in the ground before they opened it.” Inside laid her father’s body: gray, old and dusty. Ambrose Bierce’s “An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge” is a story of a man who breaks the law and dies. The story describes why the man was hanged, the life after death and his life before death. The irony in this story is great in the fact that that the entire story is a description of the man’s “great escape.” In reality they are describing what has happened in his afterlife after he is hanged. The story proceeds to tell about how he was freed from the rope that was supposed to kill him and how he gets away. He swims with all of his strength until he can reach the point where it is safe to get out and be free of the bullets. The author depicts beautiful scenery that ironically seems heavenly with “the fragrance of their blooms,” and “the wind made in their branches the music of Aeolian harps,” when describing the sounds this man hears. As the story continues through his long journey to what he believes to be home and gives the reader a sense of hope and relief when he at last sees his wife “looking fresh and cool and sweet” as he had thought of her trying to get home. After he lunges toward her to embrace her he feels an intense bluster on his neck and the only thing that Peyton Farquar can feel is a dead, cold silence. The kind where there is no returning. He now hangs dead from the Owl Creek Bridge.
The stories compare in so many different ways. The irony in both the stories correlates because they are both about death. Emily seems to believe that her father is not indeed dead, and that he is still alive. In a morbid sense, this is kind of like Peyton in “An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge” because he dreams up an entire journey home in the seconds before he dies, a false sense of hope to escape. He would most likely want to believe that he is not about to die, as well as Emily believing that her father is alive. After Emily’s father dies, she does not leave the house. People never her see her out anymore. This leaves the reader thinking after it is revealed that he is still in the house, that she spent time with him as if he were alive.The other reason that these stories would compare for obvious reasons would be the love that Emily and Peyton have for their families. Emily acts as though her father is not dead, and isolates herself only because of the immense love that she had for her father. After this tragic death, she is consumed with him, and keeps memories such as his body and a portrait of him hanging in the house. The “iron-gray hair” that they find after finding his body shows that she still spent time with him, longing for him, as Peyton longed for his family. The way that even before his death he dreams of holding his wife and children, and the way he travels long and hard to reach home when he is about to die shows the commitment that he has to his family. The other most obvious reason that the stories are similar would be the fact that they both take place during a time of the war. Soldiers, officers or colonels hassle both Emily and Peyton. The reason for Peyton’s death was because he did not know the horseman was a Federal Scout. He broke the law and was hanged for it because he was not aware of the Scout’s identity. Peyton was made the example for the town, and because of this, he lost his family and his life. The officers and Mayor made Emily’s life easier at first giving her special treatment because of her father. She was made an idol in the town by the mayor: The brave soldier’s daughter who survived him. The new mayor tries to make her pay taxes just like any other law-abiding citizen, but Emily feels like she should not have to. Both stories use Emily and Peyton to show that they have to pay attention to laws and authority.
These stories both show a creepy and ironic look at the grieving process of death. Emily and Peyton both handle the situation of death in the same way. They both embrace the people who mean the most to them. Both stories depict the mind of a person dying and show the struggles that they go through when having to grip the harsh reality. It seems that both characters waiver in between what is reality and what is not. Emily shows this when it is revealed that she had been lying with her dead father. This is proven to be true when the people attending her funeral see the imprint of another head next to her father’s, and when they see the strand of gray hair. Peyton shows this through his hallucination of the trip home. The tone in both stories is eerie and serious. The tone in each story is very morbid, and leaves the reader feeling at the end of each story sorry for Emily and Peyton. Even though the story of “An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge” actually tells in detail the way he feels about his emotions regarding death in a little more detail then in “A Rose for Emily,” the reader can still see by Emily’s actions the way she is feeling about this part of her life and her view of death.Regardless of whether Emily or Peyton broke laws in their lives, the story never denounces their actions. In a morbid perspective, the reader may even think that the narrator glorifies them by telling their stories. The authors in each of these stories also show that the characters have pride. They never shatter their spirit and think in the way that they are losing their family. Emily and Peyton both hold on to their loved ones by either keeping them physically or in their minds. Both stories leave the reader feeling glum as the stories end. Both stories also use flashbacks to help tell the story the way they author’s wanted it.
In “A Rose for Emily,” The author will often “jump” to different parts of Emily’s life to lead to the gruesome result at the end of the story. In “An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge” uses flashbacks the most out of the two stories. In the three parts of the story, the narrator does not follow the chronological order in order to give the reader a shocking surprise at the end of the story just like Emily’s story. Both stories also use foreshadowing to lead up to the end of the stories. In “A Rose for Emily” foreshadowing is used when the neighbors start to notice the smell of something dead coming from her house. In “An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge,” the author uses foreshadowing by describing the unrealistic situation that Peyton is in as well as when the narrator explaining that he has one last thought about his family. This thought indicates that he is about to perhaps have dream.
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