A Rose for Emily vs Shiloh: Compare & Contrast
The story of Bobbie Ann Mason’s ‘Shiloh’ and William Faulkner’s classic ‘Arose for Emily’ both revolve around the inevitable progress that would abandon the past and the apparent reluctance of those who are accustomed to it. The past becomes an integral part of the community as it becomes definitive of their character. But there comes a time imperative in any town’s existence when it must move forward as the time changes or it will cease to be. In these times, there will be those left in the middle who are just not quite able to adapt while there will be others who are just more than happy to be part of the change. The stories illustrate the conflict of struggling for change and stagnating to hold on to the past as seen through the eyes of the people that may seem at first to be bystanders in our lives.
The South as we know it had always had a long-standing tradition of exclusivity and identity they are proud of. Patriotism in the subdued essence of the word can never quite compare to how the South particularly represents itself. The Civil War is one, if not the best, an example of this point. No one quite held on to their history as they have. There are many things that as a group people would not like to see. Concurrently, these may also be the things that become the topic of conversation. And the conversation is an integral diversion in any community. A town is just too small for a secret to be kept. There are a number of these things that are easily passed down from one to the other. The union of two people, their subsequent marriage, troubles that brew in the home, death of someone known, and unexplainable disappearance among other things would always stir up conversation.
“They never spoke about their memories of Randy, which have almost faded, but now that Leroy is home all the time, they sometimes feel awkward around each other, and Leroy wonders if one of them should mention the child” (Mason, 2007). Here the narrator in ‘Shiloh’ tells us of the core problem in the relationship of Norma Jean and Leroy. Speaking as though he knows more than the two of them does, offering an analysis of their doomed marriage from a perspective that is almost nonchalant in its delivery. Leroy being unable to cope with the changes around him as he is unable to face the death of his child and come to terms with it together with his wife. Norma Jean on the other hand finds closure elsewhere and resigns herself to the inexorableness that her marriage no longer works.
‘A Rose for Emily’ on the other hand gives the reader a clear indication of who the author is by the opening statement, “When Miss Emily Grierson died, our whole town went to her funeral” (Faulkner, 2007). Though we are again uncertain about who exactly or on their status in the community Faulkner was direct in his contemplation of the intertwined relationships of the people in a small suburban town. Indications of the participation of the people in the life of Emily Grierson is seen throughout the story. This includes their speculations on the relationship between her and Homer, the esteem they still held for the history that she represents, and the significance of her death to the entire town.
The truth is, more often than not people around us know more about our lives than we think. There may even be times when they know us more than we know our lives. The grapevine is always a good source of information in small folks’ town. The stories give the reader a point of view in the third person of someone unknown in the story but at the same time know the characters in and out. There is the notion of closeness although we are not quite sure how but are subdued to their explicit narration of the lives of the main characters of the stories. They offer an in-depth commentary that automatically signifies the reader to be enthralled in the details given in an objective manner as the narrator is not exactly one of the characters, therefore, has no direct claim except for telling a particularly interesting story.
Faulkner, W. (2007). A Rose for Emily. In R. DiYanni, Literature, reading fiction, poetry, and drama (pp. 79-86). New York: McGraw-Hill.
Mason, B. A. (2007). Shiloh. In R. DiYanni, Literature, reading fiction, poetry, and drama (pp. 67-78). New York: McGraw-Hill.