“a Rose for Emily” vs. “Barn Burning”

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William Faulkner is known as one America's greatest authors. In fact, his short stories, "Barn Burning," and "A Rose for Emily," are two of the best-known stories in American literature. Both are examples of the reflection of contemporary Southern American values in his work. “Barn Burning” and “A Rose for Emily” are two stories both written by William Faulkner. “Barn Burning” has a theme of family loyalty verses loyalty to the law. “A Rose for Emily” has a theme of power by death. Emily is thought of as a monument, but at the same time she is pitied and often irritating, demanding to live life on her own terms. Awkward and eerie, versus exciting and dramatic, though written by the same author, the two stories have very contrasting themes, characters and settings. In "A Rose for Emily" and "Barn Burning," William Faulkner creates two characters worthy of comparison. Emily Grierson, a recluse from Jefferson, Mississippi, is an important figure in the town, despite spending most of her life in seclusion. On the contrary, Abner Snopes is a loud, fiery-tempered man that most people tend to avoid. If these characters are judged by reputation and outward appearance only, the conclusion would be that Emily Grierson and Abner Snopes are complete opposites. However, despite the external differences, these two characters have surprisingly similar personalities. First of all, Emily Grierson and Abner Snopes have very different backgrounds. Emily Grierson is born to a wealthy family, referred to as the "high and mighty Griersons". She lives in an elegant and large house, rebuilt after the Civil War. Her house is set in the heart of what was once the most elite area of Jefferson. She spends almost all of her life inside this house, coming outside its walls only on rare occasions. Yet the townspeople are always concerned with Miss Emily, as she is the last Grierson. They are interested in what is going on with her, constantly putting together the pieces of her life. However, no matter how much the people piece together the events, few know Miss Emily at all. Upon her death, she is said to be a fallen monument because she was so idolized throughout her life. On the contrary, Abner Snopes is at the other end of the social scale. He is in the lowest class. As a tenant farmer, Abner lives a life almost like that of a slave. He works continuously from day to day, living with his family in small shacks. He is itinerant and never has any money. Abner constantly displays his lack of decency and rude manners. He is considered a menace wherever he goes, and no one has any interest in getting to know such a foul and arrogant person. Death hangs over “A Rose for Emily”. From the narrator’s mention of Emily’s death at the beginning of the story through the description of Emily’s death haunted life to the foundering of tradition in the face of modern changes. In every case, death prevails over every attempt to master it. Emily gives in to death slowly. The narrator compares her to a drowned woman, a bloated and pale figure left too long in the water. In the same description, he refers to her small, spare skeleton. Emily stands as an emblem of the Old South, a grand lady whose respectability and charm rapidly decline through the year. She is much like the outdated sensibilities the Grierson’s represent. The death of the old social order will prevail, despite many townspeople’s attempts to stay true to the old ways. Emily attempts to exert power over death by denying the fact of death itself. Her bizarre relationship to the dead bodies of the men she has loved is revealed first when her father dies. Unable to admit that he has died, Emily clings to the controlling paternal figure whose denial and control became the only, yet extreme form of love she knew. She gives up his body only reluctantly. When Homer dies, Emily refuses to acknowledge it once again, but this time she herself was responsible for bringing about the death. In killing Homer, she was...
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