Analyze How Setting Effects the Stories “A Rose for Emily” by William Faulkner and “Everyday use” by Alice Walker
The settings for A Rose for Emily by William Faulkner and Everyday Use by Alice Walker had a great impact on both stories. Both stories are set in the United States’ Deep South before or around the 1960. The style of writing would also be affected negatively if William Faulkner and Alice Walker chose a different setting for these stories. The setting allows both stories to work, whereas another location or time would cause serious problems with both plots.
The United States’ Deep South, especially before the 1960’s, had certain distinctive culture aspects. The first being everyone had their place in society. Looking back now the system seems archaic and racist. Many people do not want to face the ugly truth, but the Deep South was racist and oppressive even after the Civil War. But the Deep South was also sexist. Women were expected to follow social guidelines as well. Both stories show how the culture of that time anticipated women to act.
For example, in A Rose for Emily the whole town expected for Emily Grierson to marry, but when she was still single at thirty the town pitied her (Faulkner). Also in A Rose for Emily when Emily’s father died, the mayor, Colonel Sartoris protected Emily by remitting her taxes. The mayor even created a lie so Emily would not feel ashamed for accepting charity (Faulkner). Another example from Everyday Use is Maggie’s impending marriage to John Thomas. Even though John Thomas has “mossy teeth”, since Maggie is scarred with burns this marriage is considered lucky (Walker).
Another aspect of the Deep South is the distrust of outsiders. After the Reconstruction era, Southerners, white and black, distrusted outsiders. White Southerners distrusted outsiders because of the war that destroyed their way of life, while African Americans distrusted outsiders because their ways. Whites had treated African Americans poorly in the South, this made African Americans distrust white people and vice versa.
Faulkner and Walker both show the facet of distrust against outsiders. In A Rose for Emily, when Emily was seen taking rides with a Yankee foreman, the town thought it was scandalous; a preacher even went to speak to her about the impropriety (Faulkner). Alice Walker’s Everyday Use the mother distrusted Wangero’s boyfriend. She even distrusted him more when he said “farming and raising cattle is not my style” (Walker).
Another component of the Deep South culture was the tension between the races. Everyday Use showed this aspect when the mother remembered white men poisoning the wells of neighbors. Faulkner showed this by the “negro” working for Emily not trusting white neighbors with Emily’s secrets (Faulkner).
All of these features of the Southern lifestyle make these stories work. The mother and Maggie in Alice Walker’s story would not have survived in New York City. These two women were farmers (Faulkner). In A Rose for Emily, no one realized she killed her Yankee fiancé because of the cultural propriety dictated in the South (Faulkner). If this story would have taken place in New York City, cops would have long been investigating Emily’s fiancé’s disappearance. Emily would have gone to prison.
Since both of these stories were situated in the United States’ Deep South, they narrative flowed flawlessly. Both writers have shown the world different facets of life in America’s Deep South. Since one is a white man, and the other an African America man, the Deep South is broadly represented. There are many differences, but the similarities bring out the true culture of this setting. Both stories represent the Deep South’s culture from the author’s point of view, but the facts of the time make these stories truly unique.
Faulkner, William. “A Rose for Emily.” Collected Stories of William Faulkner. New York: Random House, 1950.
Walker, Alice. “Everyday Use.” Literature: Reading, Fiction, Poetry, Drama, and the Essay. 4th ed. Robert DiYonni, Ed. New York: McGraw Hill, 1998.