Fancy Outfits, Prideful Pasts, and Deadly Lifestyles: Who Wore It Better?
Book Review Essay
Many everyday people use the famous saying: “There’s a time and place for everything…” to justify certain life morals and standards; but, what happens to that person who has no restraints on what they do? How will that affect their life or the people around them? In the two short stories A Rose for Emily by William Faulkner and A Good Man Is Hard to Find by Flannery O’Connor, both authors’ themes have relatable points about their main characters. Even though the stories share similar themes, their point-of-view narrations points out the differences between Miss Emily and the Grandmother. Also, another difference between the two stories is their overall plot. The stories A Rose for Emily and A Good Man Is Hard to Find are alike with their themes, yet have their contrasts from examining the point-of-view narrations, and plots.
The themes in A Rose for Emily and A Good Man Is Hard to Find are alike because both the Grandmother and Miss Emily have their difficulties with letting go of their pasts. In William Faulkner’s story, Miss Emily makes it known to everyone that she is a well-known family name that still has its power, even in the upcoming new generation. “She carried her head high enough–even when we believed that she was fallen. It was as if she demanded more than ever the recognition of her dignity as the last Grierson …” (Faulkner, 303). In Flannery O’Connor’s story, The Grandmother clings to her past life in Tennessee and Georgia, and wants her grandchildren to appreciate their heritage too. “‘If I were a boy,’ said the grandmother, ‘I wouldn’t talk about my native state like that way.’ …In my time, … children were more respectful of their native states and their parents and everything else’” (O’Connor, 406-407). Despite having the two characters share the same themes, the point-of-view narration of each voice describes the mood of the character’s life.
The two point-of-view narrations in the stories are different by how one view is from the opinions of the gossiping townspeople, and the other is from the complaining mind of the Grandmother. The whole town in Faulkner’s story, mainly its women, pities Miss Emily because she still wants to hold on to her fading family name in the new-generation society that is rising after Colonel Sartoris’s death. “And as soon as the old people said, 'Poor Emily,' the whispering began” (303). In Flannery O’Connor’s story, the Grandmother is always saying the wrong things at the wrong time, which leads to everyone getting in trouble—and maybe costing their lives:
[“The grandmother shrieked. She scrambled to her feet and stood staring. “You’re The Misfit!” she said. “I recognized you at once!” … “You wouldn’t shoot a lady, would you?” the grandmother said … The Misfit pointed the toe of his shoe into the ground and made a little hole and then covered it up again.
“I would hate to have to,” he said” (413).]
The whole family would have been safe if it were not for the Grandmother opening up her mouth and revealing The Misfit’s secret. The differences in their point-of-views lead up to the reason why the plots have two separate directions, yet powerful meanings.
In A Rose for Emily and A Good Man Is Hard to Find, their plots are contrasting because Faulkner writes about a nosey town trying to find out the secret to the horrible house smell, while O’Connor explains the horrible events of a family road-trip that leads to tragedy. The new generation after the death of Colonel Sartoris’s death complains about Miss Emily’s house smelling bad –due to the dead body of Homer Barron she has in her bedroom. “That night the Board of Alderman met –three gray-beards and one younger man, a member of the rising generation. … “Send her word to have her place cleaned up.” … “…will you accuse a lady to her face of smelling bad?” (301). The family (in “A Good Man Is Hard to Find”) was planning a trip to Florida; the Grandmother nags about not having her way, and eventually convinces her son Bailey to travel to Tennessee –which leads to everyone getting killed along the roadside. “The Grandmother didn’t want to go to Florida. She wanted to visit some of her connections in east Tennessee and was seizing at every chance to change Bailey’s mind. … In case of an accident, anyone seeing her dead on the highway would know at once that she was a lady” (405-406). William Faulkner and Flannery O’Connor both have two great stories that show some comparisons, although they have their own separate background plots.
William Faulkner’s A Rose for Emily and Flannery O’Connor’s A Good Man Is Hard to Find both have two stand-out characters that keep the interest throughout the stories from their prideful and secretive personalities. Faulkner and O’Connor share themes through the explanations of how their character cannot let go of her past, which leads to their twisted ending. Their point-of-view narrations vary between the meddling townspeople in Miss Emily’s life, to the unrestrained outbursts from the Grandmother towards the rest of her family. Another hint to their differences is within the plots that give the readers a view of how each author chose to write with the Southern Gothic style. A Rose for Emily and A Good Man Is Hard to Find are classics that can be compared through their themes, yet so opposite that portrays each authors unique point-of-view narrations and plots.
Works Cited Page
Faulkner, William. “A Rose for Emily.” The Norton Introduction to Literature. Ed. Kelly J. Mays. Portable 11th ed. New York: Norton, 2014. 301, 303. Print.
O’Connor, Flannery. “A Good Man Is Hard to Find.” The Norton Introduction to Literature. Ed. Kelly J. Mays. Portable 11th ed. New York: Norton, 2014. 405, 407, 413, 417-418. Print.