Comparing William Faulkner
’s Two Short Stories, A Rose For Emily And Barn Burning Essay, Research Paper
If we compare William Faulkner s two short stories, A Rose for Emily and Barn Burning , he structures the plots of these two stories differently. However, both of the stories note the effect of a father s teaching, and in both the protagonists Miss Emily and Sarty make their own decisions about their lives. The stories present major idea through symbolism that includes strong metaphorical meaning. Both stories affect my thinking of life.
Both A Rose for Emily and Barn Burning address the influence of a father, and the protagonists of both stories make their own decisions. Miss Emily lives with her father who prevents her from dating with any young man until she is thirty. Her father s deed enhances her thirst for love and security. After her father died, she finally has the freedom of love. When she meets Homer Barron and thinks that she has found her true love. But opposite of what she wants, Homer is a homosexual: Khe liked men, and it was known that he drank with the younger men in the Elks Club — that he was not a marrying man ( A Rose for Emily , 126). To keep him with her forever, Miss Emily chooses to murder Homer. Then we noticed that in the second pillow was the indentation of a head. One of us lifted something from it, and learning forward, we saw a long strand of iron-gray hair ( A Rose for Emily , 130), Faulkner implies that Miss Emily actually sleeps with the corpse. She must love Homer deeply, to endure the rotten smell and appearance of the dead body. She even enjoys being with it. The body had apparently once lain in the attitude of an embrace ( A Rose for Emily , 130). Although she picks the most ridiculous way to express love, her courage to choose her own way of life compels admiration.
In Barn Burning , Sarty s father enjoys setting fires to burn down others properties. Sarty faces the problem between loyalty and honesty. On one hand, he wants to be loyal to his father; on the other hand, he does not endorse his father s behavior. His father teaches him: You re getting to be a man. You got to learn. 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). His father wants him to pledge loyalty to his own family, but Sarty can not tolerate his father s conduct. When his father sets fire to burn down another barn, Sarty thoroughly despairs of his father. He notifies the landlord of the fire, and runs away from his family. He [Sarty] did not look back ( Barn Burning , 25). He does not want to let his father controlling him anymore. He wants to start his own life.
Both the stories present major ideas through symbolism. Faulkner uses particular objects to link the tales with his metaphorical meaning. A Rose for Emily does not explicitly involve a rose. Faulkner notes the rose only twice, in the title and the third paragraph from the last, Kthis room decked and furnished as for a bridal: upon the valance curtains of faded rose color, upon the rose-shaded lights K ( A Rose for Emily, 129). But the significant symbolic meaning of the rose strongly affects the readers perception of Miss Emily. It stirs the readers to sympathize with Miss Emily. Rose stands for true love, expectation and the most resplendent period of life. Miss Emily adorns her room as a bridal chamber in rose color, representing a woman who yearns for true love and dreams of a fairyland where she and her beloved can stay together forever. For years, Miss Emily s father drove away all the young men who want to date with her. Her father thwarted her to experiencing love. In her dreary existence, Homer Barron is the only bright spot, one rose . Like a wilted rose, she keeps his body, forever. It reminds her of the joy she once had in her otherwise empty life. Although Miss Emily is stubborn and eccentric, she is a pitiful woman who needs more attention and love.
In Barn Burning , Faulkner uses Major de Spain s house to symbolize Sarty s ambition. Sarty vibrates to the house:
Khe saw the house for the first time and at that instant he forgot his father and the terror and despair both, and even when he remembered his father again (who had not stopped) the terror and despair did not return. Because, for all the twelve movings, they had sojourned until now in a poor country, a land of small farms and fields and houses, and he had never seen a house like this before ( Barn Burning , 10).
It is a place where Sarty wants to stay. He yearns to be free from worry and control. For years, he migrates from place to place because of his father habit of burning down other s properties. He dreams to live with peace and hopes that one day his father will change his behavior: Hit s big as a courthouse he thought quietly, with a surge of peace and joy whose reason he could not have thought into words K They are safe from him. People whose lives are a part of this peace and dignity are beyond his touch K Maybe he will feel it too. Maybe it will even change him now from what maybe he couldn t help but be. Therefore, when his father sets fire to burn down the barn that belongs to the house, he thoroughly despairs of his father. He not only destroys the barn, but also shatters Sarty s hope. Sarty decides to leave his family and find his own way of life.
The metaphorical meanings of A Rose for Emily and Barn Burning teaches me to view life in a different way. I do not agree with Miss Emily s deed, but admire her inflexible love. She reminds me to be careful when choose a beloved. It is important to find someone who suits me. The other protagonist, Sarty shows strong self-awareness. He is young, but he is able to determine right and wrong. He knows that if he continuing stay with his father, he will not be able to live his own life, or do right things. It is pretty courageous that he decide to leave his family. When I make a decision, I should have the same courage. Both stories plots themselves are odd, but the meanings stimulate deep thought.
Faulkner, William. Barn Burning. Collected Stories of William Faulkner. New York:
Random House, 1939. 3-25.
Faulkner, William. A Rose for Emily. Collected Stories of William Faulkner. New
York: Random House, 1939. 119-30.