Jun 8, 2020 in Analysis

William Faulkner is an American writer known for unique writing style and well-developed characters. His short stories are worth noting because the way the author describes events in such great detail is truly astounding. “Barn Burning” and “A Rose for Emily” must be highlighted. Both stories are quite tragic and share some similarities. They are focused on characters that suffer from internal struggle, and it is nearly impossible to justify their actions. It is reasonable to compare both stories to get a better understanding of techniques the author utilizes to generate sympathy towards such characters.

Abner Snopes is one of the central characters in “Barn Burning” and he has seen a lot throughout his life. His arrogance was an enormous threat to every individual that surrounded him. His son and wife were too afraid to argue and did not even try to change his perspective. His accomplishments as a veteran should be respected, but it is clear that he has abused this position to gain personal benefits. He has focused only on profits and did not care about the destiny of others. Abner becomes even more unstable as the story develops. His habit of barn burning endangered his family, and his son realized that he is the one who must stop the madness. It was a difficult situation and Sarty had to make a critical decision. Abner was an important figure in his son’s life and has managed to convince his family that this type of behavior is acceptable and such actions are justified. Additionally, Abner realized that close ones would not dare to challenge his views because of the family ties. He made a vital mistake when attempting to destroy de Spain barn. Patriarch of this family underestimated the value of justice, and could not fathom the fact that his son could warn other about his intentions. Ke-dong and Shi-rong suggest that Abner is too focused on financial inequality, but he does not address the core of this problem because his analysis of relationships between wealthy and low-income individuals is rather primitive. He is not capable of thinking rationally because his anger has affected his perception of the world.

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«A Rose for Emily» is not linear, and it makes it much harder to understand the development of the character. The author tries to be as subtle as possible and provides only a few small hints to ensure that the ending is not spoiled. Foregrounding is used to attract attention to specific details that help to move the story forward. Additionally, Faulkner uses other characters to influence the way a reader perceives Emily. They think that she does not deserve much empathy because of her lifestyle. However, they do not lack compassion and understand that psychological damage associated with the death of a family member is enormous. People in this story change their opinion of this lonely lady quite frequently because of the lack of interaction. They did not know anything about her or her personal qualities and were forced to speculate. Therefore, reader’s experience is quite similar, and it creates a unique sense of connection.

Emily lost any hope after her father’s death, and it was hard for her to accept the situation. Her behavior highlights the fact that she was traumatized by the way others treated her throughout the life. One may argue that she did not have to deal with any significant difficulties, but the harm caused by psychological pressure can be destructive. It was hard for her to accept any changes. She thought that she finally found true love, but did not realize that Homer did not feel the same way because of his sexuality. He has openly admitted that he is attracted to men on numerous occasions. However, Emily was living in her distorted reality and did not want to accept the truth. The author focuses on her mental problems to highlight issues that such people may face. She needed help but did not have people around her that would understand the situation. The short story affects individuals that had to deal with similar losses the most. Faulkner portrays her as a strong woman, but she was broken inside and did not want to show her weakness to the public.

It is clear that both characters were misguided and made terrible mistakes. Nevertheless, Abner is less deserving of empathy because he committed atrocious crimes to satisfy his ego. “I can't find against you, Snopes, but I can give you advice” is a crucial line that highlights an important moment in the story. The character becomes overconfident because he realizes that he will not face punishment unless judges have access to sufficient evidence. Abner thinks that his crimes will be hard to prove, and it makes him reckless. It is impossible to empathize with a person that has no respect for the law. Additionally, one could argue that he has reached the point where he could not redeem himself. The antagonist has lost his mind and acted without any reasoning. He could not understand such emotions as empathy and guilt, and focused only on the suffering of others.

Emily is also a person that has committed a crime. One may argue that murder is much worse than barn burning. However, context is incredibly important in this situation. Abner would continue committing crimes unless someone stopped him because it has become the only important thing in his life. On the other hand, Emily made such a terrible mistake because she was too afraid to stay alone. Homer did not agree to a marriage because he was obsessed with men and it has traumatized her. She was worried that she would be left alone again, and it has affected her ability to make decisions. “We did not say she was crazy then” is the line that is worth mentioning. This quote suggests that people did not realize the fact that Emily was ill, and it was a reasonable reaction to such a loss. This statement makes the character much more sympathetic because it shows how she slowly started to lose her mind. It was the point that has changed her life forever, and she could no longer accept such cruel reality. It is clear that both characters suffered from mental problems, but Abner is the one that was much more dangerous and could destroy the lives of many people. They were guilty and deserved punishments for their evil deeds. They believed that it was too late to seek redemption, and tried to avoid consequences of their actions until their deaths.

In summary, the portrayal of both characters in these stories is outstanding, but the description of Emily is much more convincing and evokes more positive emotions. The ending was unexpected, and one may have to read the short story several times to get a better understanding of central character’s intentions and motives. Overall, it is evident that William Faulkner has utilized a range of techniques to ensure that readers can sympathize with such characters even if he portrays them as terrible people. The author acknowledges the fact that even villains must have some redeeming qualities, and this aspect makes him stories unique and realistic.


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