For the final essay, two short stories and one poem will be used to illustrate comparisons by looking at the characters as their respective authors describe them, and how this is used to draw readers into their stories and poems. The two stories being used are, A Rose For Emily, by William Faulkner, and The Bride Comes to Yellow Sky, by Stephen Crane. The poem being used is, The Road Not Taken, by Robert Frost. Conflict and prejudice will be highlighted as the common thread among the three works. Comparison will come from using the characters in the stories and poem, and how the authors use descriptive writing to draw their readers into the stories and poem.
In A Rose For Emily, the description of Miss Emily’s house by William Faulkner is a big square frame house that had once been white (DiYanni, 2007), and how Miss Emily looked as she walked in to the meeting with the Board of Aldermen, a small, fat woman in black, with a thin gold chain descending to her waist and vanishing into her belt, leaning on an ebony cane with a tarnished gold head (DiYanni, 2007). The end of the story finds William Faulkner giving great detail about the body of Miss Emily’s suitor Homer Barron and the room decked and furnished for a bridal night, and how the body of Homer was described as fleshless and once laid as if it were in an embrace, how he had rotted beneath his nightshirt (DiYanni, 2007). The vivid description allows one to get a clear view of the room and the decomposed body of Homer. When he writes about the indention on the pillow as if someone had laid their head there and then they find the strands of grey or silver hair, one can visualize Miss Emily lying next to Homer in a macabre way.
The style of writing William Faulkner uses in this story, allows him to navigate among many points of view within the story. William Faulkner’s use of third person allows for flashbacks and the ability to dig deeper into the history of the town. By also using symbolic language such as referring to Emily as Miss Emily (DiYanni, 2007), William Faulkner is able to send the reader back in time when the story actually takes place. This allows the reader to get a better understanding of the larger issues that were at play in the South around the turn of the century.
The language used in “The Road Not Taken” by Robert Frost is quite moving. Robert Frost speaks of approaching a fork in the road. He must choose which road to proceed down. He chooses the one that appears less traveled only to find that it is traveled about the same as the other road. Robert Frost’s subtle use of description when he refers to the two roads being about the same, let’s one know that they may be close, but not exact. Many of the roads chosen in life look very similar at the entrance but change quite often as they are traveled. His use of the word sigh and difference in the fourth stanza can mean either positive or negative feelings, but since the author mentions that nothing will be known until the future, we do not know which effect these words mean. Robert Frost speaks of possibly coming back to travel the first road at a later date but doubts this as life is too short. Robert Frost infers that he will report back on his travels down the second road at some point in the future.
The character in this poem must choose a road to take without knowing where it may lead. In A Rose For Emily, Miss Emily had to make a choice as well. Her choice was to poison Homer to keep him from leaving. Another part of the poem that connects to Miss Emily is where her decisions would lead. This could be what Miss Emily was thinking when poisoning Homer. Emily may have thought briefly as to what the town would say about her actions. Perhaps this is why she kept him upstairs in the bedroom so she had him with her at all times even though he was not a living breathing being he was still with her. As long as she kept him hidden in the house, and made it look as though he would marry her, the townspeople would be satisfied. Many questions arise with the story as to why Miss Emily would do this. Perhaps Miss Emily thought she would not die alone. Even though she could not talk to Homer he would be there with her when she died.
The poem also relates to The Bride Comes to Yellow Sky. Jack had choices to make in The Bride Comes to Yellow Sky that included whether to leave town and get married, tell the townspeople before he left, tell them before he returned, and whether or not to return to Yellow Sky after the fact. I think the part of the poem where he states, I took the one less traveled (DiYanni, 2007), could describe the choices of Jack and his bride as they boarded the train. How Jack went to San Antonio and married a girl he thought he loved without letting the townspeople of Yellow Sky know what he was doing could be compared to the line in the poem, I shall be telling this with a sigh, somewhere ages and ages hence (DiYanni, 2007).
Jack’s escape route from the train station in Yellow Sky would involve the choice of two roads. The first would have been to get off the train and face the town. The one Jack chose was the second road or choice which was to plan his escape from the train to avoid being seen by the townspeople before he could come up with a plan to introduce his bride.
Just as Miss Emily loved Homer, Jack loved his bride and married her whether the townspeople would like it or not and Jack loved his town, but loved his bride more so he married her without talking to the towns people. There are many correlations between Jack and his bride and between Emily and Homer. Both Jack and Emily are in love with their significant other, and both Jack and Emily choose the road of deceit. Jack keeps his marriage a secret from the town and Emily keeps the death of Homer a secret from the town.
The two short stories chosen connect in a way that shows the reader how people judge and are prejudice towards others. In the story, “The Bride Comes to Yellow Sky”, there are several prejudices in the story. For instance when the porter bullied them with skills in ways that did not make it plain to them that they were being bullied (DiYanni, 2007). The porter on the train treated them with all the unconquerable kind of snobbery. He oppressed them in a way they had small knowledge of him doing so (DiYanni, 2007). In the story, A Rose for Emily, the towns people thought the Griersons were snobs in their own right, the towns people thought the Griersons held themselves a little too high for what they really were (DiYanni, 2007). Another part of the story finds Miss Emily’s neighbor complaining to the judge about the smell coming from Miss Emily’s house. She relates to Miss Emily as a high and mighty Grierson, and wants the judge to do something about the smell coming from the house (DiYanni, 2007).
When Miss Emily’s father dies, the towns people are glad in a way, saying Miss Emily would somehow now be humanized and learn what it was like to live on little money (DiYanni, 2007). It seems Faulkner and Crane must have been treated with some type of prejudice in their life. Perhaps Faulkner and Crane were prejudice towards others also. One could speculate that both of these writers reflect many personal life experiences in their writings.
Prejudice has been around for so long that it may never completely go away. It is sad that people have to deal with this in their everyday lives, and one could argue that this is what makes some stronger and makes others weaker. The stories here both take place in the South, which would make sense as the South is still noted for harboring prejudices. Both authors speak with an apparent knowledge of the South Even though one of them was not born there.
Stephen Crane spent quite some time in the South and found the people and towns very interesting. He was originally from New Jersey and instantly fell in love with a woman from Florida. This could have led to his writing about Jack’s instant love for his bride from San Antonio. William Faulkner came from a traditional southern family and grew up in Mississippi. Being from the south, his writing knowledge and style are ever present in his stories. He describes southern family traits and customs that are still used today. Some of these would be the hospitality and community atmosphere.
Communities do not only affect the language of the author but they also can provide the community of the author’s work. Some communities’ act like an extended family and an author may want to show that aspect. Sometimes an author may wish to write about a close-knit community that knows everyone else’s business. Often a writer will write about their community, illustrating certain cultural aspects that they hold dear. All of these can be examples of the writer’s community coming to life in their own stories.
In A Rose for Emily (DiYanni, 2007), William Faulkner shows a community that is very involved with each other. They are constantly talking about what Miss Emily does, what she says, and whom she sees. William Faulkner speaks for the community using the pronoun, we, throughout the story. He describes how the community reacts to Homer Barron trying to court her, “At first we were glad that Miss Emily would have an interestâ€¦” (p. 82). Everyone becomes very interested in Miss Emily’s love life. When she buys poison they become worried that she was dumped and will now commit suicide. Then they hear that she bought things for a man and they become happy for her again. This is probably an example of the type of people William Faulkner was around.
Another example of a community that is close comes from; The Bride Comes to Yellow Sky. In this story the marshal, Jack Potter, is illustrated as a very important figure in his community. Because he is a prominent figure he feels he committed a crime by leaving Yellow Sky to get married. Additionally, the townspeople speak kindly of the marshal when a former outlaw, Scratchy Wilson, goes on a drunken rampage, “I wish Jack Potter was back from San Anton’â€¦” (p. 487). Jack is responsible for taking care of Scratchy when he gets drunk. Stephen Crane lived briefly in the Old West and more than likely witnessed similar events to that of Scratchy Wilson.
Many people have been told they would never make anything of their lives by someone who had judged them before they knew whom they were. They then go on to prove them wrong by getting a degree and making for themselves a good life. This is what makes so many of the writers stories relevant to their readers. They are able to draw the readers in using some of their own life experiences, which make the readings more interesting and can help the reader relate to the stories. It also enables the reader to become a part of the story. The readers can actually place themselves as a character in the story because many have had some type of prejudice directed towards them at some point in their lives.
If one has ever lived in small town America, the description of how the town’s people act in both stories “The Bride Comes to Yellow Sky” and “A Rose for Emily” are right on the money. Being one from a small town, it reminds me of both stories on how people judge marriage, there is something wrong with a person if they are not married by a certain age and then if some of the elders in the town do not approve of the marriage comments are made. Both stories in so many ways compare to life in small towns, where people have nothing better to do than to spy on someone to see what they can gossip about. As a youth, it did not matter which friends home your were visiting, the adults in that home were your surrogate parents while you were there. Even today, people are watched and dissected according to what they do and don’t do as it relates to what is expected.
Robert Frost was born on the west coast and then moved to the east coast. His poems deal more with his life in New England and with rural America. His life was hard and riddled with death and depression. Only two of his kids outlived him. His struggle with life and the many crossroads he faced are evident in his poem, The Road Not taken.
Reading this poem reminds me of the fact that I am at a fork in the road and I have chosen my path. At this time, I do not know where this road will lead, but am anxious to find out. I found Frost’s poem to be very tricky and very deep. The more I read it, the more I enjoyed it. I may have to save this one as it really spoke to me about choices we make.
I found myself apprehensive at the beginning of this class. My ability to read and hopefully interpret poems has expanded since starting this course. I was never much into poems, but at least I am beginning to feel as though I can understand what the author is saying through the use of imagery and elements. As this class has progressed I have found through the readings in the class that I enjoyed most of the readings. I have found I now read with an open mind and do not judge a book, short story, poem, or play by its title. I read a story through and then read it again and find that it makes more sense the second time around.
In conclusion, I feel the two short stories and one poem I chose can be compared in many different aspects. The three of them tie in very well with each other through conflict and prejudice. Even though the authors come from similar, but different backgrounds of life, they all wrote with their life experiences in mind. The authors had a talent for drawing readers into their stories and poems and kept the reader’s attention throughout the readings.
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