Dr. William Bedford
10 September 2013
Comparing and Contrasting “A Rose for Emily” and “Barn Burning”
In William Faulkner’s short stories “A Rose for Emily” and “Barn Burning” the characters are both guilty of committing terrible crimes. However, Miss Emily in “A Rose for Emily” and Abner Snopes in “Barn Burning” are both portrayed very differently from each other. A few things to consider while reading these short stories is how each of these characters is characterized, how the author generates sympathy for these characters, and the order in which the events in these stories occur.
The way Faulkner characterizes Miss Emily and Abner Snopes throughout these stories is very different. In “A Rose for Emily”, Miss Emily is characterized as a respected, helpless, and possibly mentally ill elderly woman whose pride has left her living in the past when her family was higher up on the social ladder. There are many examples of these traits being shown throughout the story. When the smell begins to emanate from Miss Emily’s house, a few men from town snuck over there in the middle of the night and “broke open the cellar door and sprinkled lime there, and in all the outbuildings” (Emily 81). This illustrates how helpless Miss Emily was to extinguish the smell by herself and how the townsfolk respected her enough to preserve her dignity. The fact that Colonel Sartoris had to invent the story that “Miss Emily’s father had loaned money to the town, which the town, as a matter of business, preferred this way of repaying” (Emily 79), in reference to her taxes being remitted, illustrates how prideful she was, and her denial of her father’s death (Emily 81) indicates her unwillingness to let go of the past and the presence of a mental illness (while her sleeping with a dead body for roughly forty years is confirmation of her mental illness).
In “Barn Burning”, Abner Snopes is characterized as a psychopathic tenant farmer whose family...