SHORT STORY PAPER
“Compare/contrast Faulkner’s ‘Dry September’ with ‘A rose for Emily’ in terms of writing style and character presentation.”
What is going to be analyzed in this paper are the two short stories by W. Faulkner ‘A Rose for Emily’ and ‘Dry September’. Basically, what is to be performed is a comparison/contrast analysis in terms of the writing style and character presentation. More specifically, I will provide first the information from the story ‘A Rose for Emily’, concerning writing style and character presentation, and following is going to be the same analysis for the other story ‘Dry September’. After the necessary data are provided, there is going to be a comparison/contrast of these data, by also citing passages from the two stories, for making them more understandable.
The similarities and differences that exist in the two stories are substantial. Before, the analysis on the stories takes place there are some general points that have to be mentioned that concern other elements of fiction that are as well important. To begin with, the town name that is used in both stories is the same and that is ‘Jefferson’. Also both stories are taking place in the old South. And finally, in both of them the main character is a woman, Miss Emily Grierson and Miss Minnie Cooper respectively.
The first story that is going to be analyzed is ‘A Rose for Emily’, and more specifically the analysis is divided in two parts, first I am concerned with the writing style and second with the character presentation. To begin with I have to say that this story is one that keeps the readers’ interest undiminished. It has a complex plot and many questions arise when reading through it. Basically what is creating this is the lack of chronological order in the evolution of the facts that are presented. Things become more clear when one places them in the right order. Since the story is taking place in the old South, the choice and use of words indicts us to that region. Furthermore, what is also noticed here is that there are many descriptions(descriptive language) used in the story; “It was a big, squarish frame house that … an eyesore among eyesores”(431-2). These help to understand more about the surrounding environment and about the appearance, “They rose when she entered-a small fat woman in black … while the visitors stated their errand”(432) of the people that are involved in the story as well. Also we have to say that there are many similes and metaphors in the text that make it more true to the reader, “She looked bloated, like a body long … stated their errand”(432).
Inversely, another element of fiction that is going to be analyzed is the character presentation. There are many characters involved in the story, and Faulkner is presenting information about all of them, in most of the cases he also describes the appearance of them as well; “… a Yankee-a big, dark, ready man with… team of bays from the livery stable”(434). The information that I received can be interconnected and form a point of view for each one of the persons involved. The protagonist in the story is Miss Emily, for whom I have many information. She is aristocratic and once belonged to the distinguished and prestigious people of Jefferson. We have many backup information about her concerning her past, especially the role of her father towards Emily. Moreover there is a man involved in the story also, whose name is Homer Barron, and is the man that Emily falls in love with, and consequently he disappears. Some of the town people are presented in the story also. Throughout the story we see that there are many descriptions about the people and especially for Miss Emily, as mentioned before. This helps us understand the various stages that she is going through and how her behavior is affected. We see that as the years pass Emily is becoming more and more enigmatic until she reaches the point where she is locking herself in the house and nobody sees her for 10 years, “She was sick for… -sort of tragic and serene”(434). Finally all the questions that are created are answered when she finally dies and town people enter her house, “The violence of breaking down the door… lay in the bed”(437-8). Generally I can say about the characters, that Faulkner creates in this story, are puzzling, and are revealed throughout miscellaneous stages that are taking place, and through which the reader receives information that show this for them.
On the other hand, the other story that is going to be discussed is ‘Dry September’, which as well is a story that keeps the readers’ interest in high levels, due to the interesting plot that it has, and the various changes in it. Here also, I first analyze the writing style and then proceed with the character presentation. This story has to do as well with a woman(Miss Minnie Cooper), who is supposedly raped by a black man. This woman was once in the high social class of Jefferson and as the years pass by she began to ‘fall’.The choice and use of words is really careful, again, and especially here the use of ‘South’ words and way of speaking is obvious and extensive, “ ‘Maybe you know who… ,you damn niggerlover’”(517). The story contains dialogues between characters, from which also the reader acquires necessary information, in order to understand better the story. Descriptions are spread all over the text, which have to deal basically with the setting, “… none of them, gathered in the barber shop… ,knew exactly what had happened”(517) and the characters as well, “The screen door crashed… had been decorated for valor”(518), to make the reader understand and know more about their special features. There are many similes and metaphors, “…like a fire in my glass…”(517); used throughout the text that transform and make the text more interesting and intensive. Again here, Faulkner has lack of chronological order but not so complex. The story basically when reading through it, gives the impression of two stories in one since Faulkner is changing settings constantly, from the barber shop to Minnies house, or from the alley to the road and then to the factory. Even though the story is moving around Miss Minnie and Will Mayes(black man), there are not many information about the black man as if it was not necessary or important, because his fate did not depend on him, but on the white people of the town. Besides this, I observed that throughout the text during the dialogues there are many interruptions, “ ‘I just know and you… a woman that never-’ ”(518), which do not let the reader receive some more information. These interruptions also help in rising the interest of the reader in what is going to happen next.
Furthermore, I am going to proceed with the character presentation. There are many characters presented throughout the text. The author provides with information about their past or even for now like their appearance. The information that we receive can help us understand and justify the actions of these people and at some point even foresee how the situations are going to turn out in the end. Through the character presentation Faulkner here also presents two conflicting arguments which are whether the black man is guilty or not. Through the various people that are presented, we get to know as well the perceptions and how people used to face this kind of problem-rape. The woman that is the main character of the story, Minnie, is falling in love with a bank cashier who finally leaves to the city and abandons her. One problem that was understood when reading through the text is that Faulkner is using different names for the same characters and that the characters are so many that it requires careful reading, in order not to get confused, and think that other people are saying the words. A point that has to be mentioned and it is of major importance is that in this story we see the transformation of a ‘popular’ girl, to a woman that nobody cares for and then again we see her feeling different in the picture show where men start again paying attention to her. Generally, he shows to us how the life of a woman changes, and how an incident affected her life.
Now if we compare the two stories we will find similarities in terms of the two elements of fiction, we discussed before. One of the major similarities that the two stories have is that both of them have to do with women, who had a strange life; also both of these stories are taking place in the old South, in the same town. Likewise, as much as the writing style is concerned we see that in both texts the use of descriptive language is obvious, which is something that helps the reader understand and interpret them so as to have a clearer point of view. In like manner, there are also similarities that have to do with the character presentation. Basically, a common tactic that Faulkner uses in both stories is to describe their appearance, because in a way it is interrelated with their actions. The heroines in both stories have common features like their belonging in the high social class of town, and are both disappointed by men in their own way. The author also is providing us with the past of some of the characters involved. Both women at one point in their lives they were called by the town people ‘Poor, Emily’(Faulkner,436), and ‘Poor Minnie’ (Faulkner,521), respectively which shows that they created the same feelings to them, but for different reasons.
Furthermore, what we are going to provide here is the contrast between the two stories, concerning again the two elements of fiction. To begin with, we have to denote a major difference that is observed and this is the diction and the language that the author uses. In Emily’s story we see that, due to the fact that Emily belonged to a high social class the language used in the dialogues is not that much ‘South’, while in Minnie’s story we have the large dialogues between the men in the barber shop and in other settings where we can see clear the use of these kind of words. This is natural because the people in the second story, and especially the people(men) in the barber shop did not seem to belong in high social class.
In addition to that I have also to denote that ‘Dry September’ is a story that it is based on dialogue while ‘A Rose for Emily’ is more like a narration by an observer, with some small exceptions of dialogue and quotes of words. On the other side, I have also to comment that in the first story Faulkner uses more descriptions about people, due to the fact that large dialogues exist. These descriptions include main and secondary characters like McLendon, Hawkshaw, stranger, barbers and others.
Likewise, there are differences existing in the character presentation. Basically, I observed that the characters in “Dry September” were presented and described more extensively. This is happening almost for everybody. On the contrary in Emily’s story the descriptions about characters are referring to Emily a lot, and to other people that were close to her like the servant and H. Barron. In “A Rose for Emily”, I saw that the reader is more like adduced to Emily’s actions and emotions, while on the other story the reader has to deal with other people’s actions and feelings. Added to this, I have also to say that two big differences concerning the main characters in that Emily’s complex personality-in relation with her father and loved one is projected more, while on the other story we have more on Minnie’s environment and relationships with other people.
Summing up, throughout the analysis of the two stories by W. Faulkner, I spotted many similarities and differences, concerning the two elements of fiction, the writing style and the characters’ presentation. Overall, the two stories are really interesting with a strange plot. Faulkner maintains in both stories, the strange feeling of an almost horror stories. He shows the profound wickedness that penetrates the various characters in both of the stories. Bizarre characters, outlandish settings, but more or less the same feelings to the reader, created by William Faulkner.