William Faulkner’s “A Rose for Emily” is a story that uses flashbacks to foreshadow a surprise ending. The story begins with the death of a prominent old woman, Emily, and finishes with the startling discovery that Emily as been sleeping with the corpse of her lover, whom she murdered, for the past forty years. The middle of the story is told in flashbacks by a narrator who seems to represent the collective memory of an entire town. Within these flashbacks, which jump in time from ten years past to forty years past, are hidden clues which prepare the reader for the unexpected ending, such as hints of Emily’s insanity, her odd behavior concerning the deaths of loved ones, and the evidence that the murder took place.
Without bluntly saying it, Faulkner, in several instances, hints that Emily has gone mad. At a few points in the story, the narrator mentions Emily’s Great Aunt Wyatt, who “had gone completely crazy at last” (paragraph 25). This is the narrator’s insinuation that insa…
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…was a desperate act of a lonely, insane woman who could not bear to loose him. The structure of this story, however, is such that the important details are delivered in almost random order, without a clear road map that connects events. The ending comes as a morbid shock, until a second reading of the story reveals the carefully hidden details that foreshadow the logical conclusion.
Faulkner, William. “A Rose for Emily”. An Introduction to Literature, 11th ed. Ed. Barnet, Sylvan, et al. 287-294.
Essay on the Setting of Everyday Use
In the short story, “Everyday Use”, author Alice Walker uses everyday objects, which are described in the story with some detail, and the reactions of the main characters to these objects, to contrast the simple and practical with the stylish and faddish. The main characters in this story, “Mama” and Maggie on one side, Dee on the other, each have opposing views on the value and worth of the various items in their lives, and the author uses this conflict to make the point that the substance of an object, and of people, is more important than style.
The main characters in this story appear to be polar opposites. Mama, the narrator of the story, describes herself as a “large, big-boned woman with rough, man-working hands” (paragraph 5). She does not paint an attractive picture of herself, however she goes on to list the many things she can do. Like the items in the setting around her, she seems more interested in practicality, and less interested in aesthetics. Dee, on the other hand, is defined by her sense of style, and does not seem to do anything. When her name was Dee, she hated the objects around her for their lack of beauty and style. When she became a member of the Nation of Islam and changed her name to Wangero, she saw these old items as a part of her heritage and works of art. At no time, however, did she ever have a real use for them.
Examples of such items are the butter churn and dasher. The butter churn and dasher are both described in detail by Mama, which highlights their value to her. The butter churn, which had been whittled by Dee’s Uncle Buddy, was something that Dee wanted to take back with her, even though she only wanted to use the churn top as a “centerpiece for the alcove table” (paragraph 53). The bottom half, presumably, would be wasted. Dee would also “think of something artistic to do with the dasher” (paragraph 53). Dee never seems to consider that she is taking away her mother’s butter churn, a useful item, for a trivial use.
The objects that lead to the final confrontation between Dee and Mama are the old quilts. These quilts are described as being made from old material by family members, which enhances their value to Mama, and the detail with which they are described increases the sense of setting.