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A Rose for Emily and Barn Burning - Comparison

Autor:   •  December 1, 2016  •  Essay  •  1,219 Words (5 Pages)  •  605 Views

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Wenjun Zhu

English 1B



Emily and Abner

In “A Rose for Emily” and “barn Burning”, William Faulkner creates two sympathetic characters. Emily Grierson, who is a single lady from Jefferson, Mississippi, is an important person in the town, spending her whole life in her big house. Abner Snopes is the perfect opposite of Emily, being a violent man that most people try to avoid. They are two opposite characters, but these two characters have similar sides in which they both are guilty of terrible crimes, and William Faulkner generates sympathy for them. However, Abner Snopes is more sympathetic than Emily Grierson.

        Firstly, Emily Grierson and Aber Snopes have very different backgrounds, and Abner Snops is more sympathetic when we look at their backgrounds. Emily Grierson is born to a rich family, which Faulkner wrote that her family is “high and mighty Griersons”(99). Emily lives in a big house, which is built in the heart of Jefferson, the most expensive area to live in. Emily also has a male steward to take care of her. Unfortunately, Emily’s father died when he was eating dinner (know it from the movie), but Emily does not worry about money because Colonel Sartoris “remitted her tax, the dispensation dating from the death of her father on into perpetuity”(99). On the contrary, Abner Snopes lives like a slave. He lives with his family in small shacks which his daughter said “Likely hit ain’t fitten for hawgs.” (483) Abner has to work continuously from day to day supporting his family because his daughters do not work and his youngest son is only 10 years old. We know that Abner is a mercenary during the Civil War. A mercenary fights in an army for money, and not out of patriotic duty, later he is shot in the leg during the war when he is caught stealing Confederate horses for personal profit (485). In short, looking at Emily Grierson’s, and Abner Snopes’ whole life, Emily lives with no worries, and Abner has to worry about money all the time, while working hard with his broken leg day by day. It seems that Abner is more sympathetic.

        Secondly, Emily Grierson and Abner Snopes are both outsiders in the communities in which they live, but Emily separate herself from others, and Abner is separated by others. After Emily’s father died, she does not want to accept that, and she keeps saying her father is still alive when people came to visit her, and say sorry about her father(100). After that, Emily begins to keeps herself in the house, and avoids seeing other people except her steward. At her funeral, all the people come and are “takeing of Miss Emily as if she had been a contemporary of theirs, believing they had danced with her and courted her perhaps, confusing time with its mathematical progression”(99). However, people come to the funeral not because Emily and they are close friends. The reason is that they view Emily as “a tradition, a duty, and a care; assort of hereditary obligation upon the town”(99). We can see that nobody who lives in the town face Emily as a friend because she is inhuman. Similarly, Abner Snopes is an outcast in the societies in which he lives; all people see him as a low class outsider. His low class status causes his abnormal mentality. He begins to be an angry, vengeful, and violent man. He doesn't respect anyone or anything. Because he is a poor man, he joined the army, not to be patriotic to a cause, but to see how much stuff he could steal. Abner Snopes steals from people, cheats and destroys the work of others. He is not justified in any of the negative things he did. Even though he has his family, when he decides to burn his employer’s barn, his youngest son who tries to tell the barn’s owner what Snopes is going to do. Even his family is not on his side. Over all, Emily and Abner both lock themselves into their own strange worlds, and they are unable to communicate in society, but Abner is forced to live outside of society because everybody see him as a slave. At that point, Abner is more sympathetic.


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