Comparison Essay “A Rose for Emily'” and “Song for a Dark Girl”
The tradition of the South is deeply integrated in the writings of both William Faulkner and Langston Hughes. ‘A Rose for Emily’ and ‘Song for a DarkGirl’ hold some parallelism that discusses American culture and the idiosyncrasies that make up a nation. The treatment of various races as it is a country composed of a melting pot of cultures makes it distinct from others. This is shown in the kinds of literature that have been produced through the generations. It is a clear indication and a reflection of how the people understand the ethnicities as it stands and where it is heading.
One of the best American writers, William Faulkner writes with so much subtlety without compromising the beauty of the plot of his short stories. His use of language is simple and so precise that the reader easily becomes enthralled into reading what he has so eloquently put down in paper. The evidence of history integrated into his short stories makes empathy effortlessly derived from the reader. Among the most widely read American short story, ‘A Rose for Emily’ gives us Ms. Emily Grierson, a staple character in a Southern town who progressed into becoming a symbol of the past the townsfolk wants to remember and forget simultaneously. The tradition and the standards for which the people stand for was among the silent characters in the story.
The story opens with the death of an older Ms. Emily and the men paying respect in the funeral as a last rite to a ‘fallen monument’ (par. 1). With her death comes the end of an era that had once been a defining aspect of the community. The conclusion of what was to what it has become, younger generations overtaking old ideals. Here we are painted with the picture of the demise of Ms. Grierson and of the part of town which had been an aristocratic street for the old rich owning cotton plantations. The narrator also tells of the recurring smell that reeks from her house which the people have taken upon themselves to solve after a number of complaints from those who live around her house.
Langston Hughes’ ‘Song for a Dark Girl’ is a short and dark poem that contains elements of the blues rhythm he had become famous for. The poem makes use of refrain by repeating the line ‘Way down South in Dixie’ (line 1) in the beginning of every stanza. It is a short poem that approaches a direct storyline where the persona of the poem narrates of an event and his emotions pertaining to it. The veracity of racial discrimination and of racial crime is the main theme Hughes employed. The brevity of the poem swiftly instigates the reader to consider the events that led to the tragedy and the association of the narrator to the character presented in the incident that took place.
An impressionable piece, Keenan Norris in his article suggests that the poem speaks of the death of a black man though it is titled ‘Song for a Dark Girl.’ He argues that the lines pertaining to the figure of a body is that of a man positioned in its iconic form. The shadow is implicative of its dark color. Morris maintains that there is an antagonistic feeling of blacks with regard to authority that was perpetuated through history and that a way to suppress insurgent feelings is employ ‘rituals of discipline.’ Furthermore, the main subject of the poem is the persona narrating rather than the dead figure as defined. “Although there is a considerable literature regarding the objectification and subjugation of the black female body, it is important to remember that the primary image of black suppression in the public imagination of segregation-era America was the lynched black male body” (par. 4).
‘Song for a Dark Girl’ contains a lamentation of racial symbolism through the lines “I asked the white Lord Jesus/ What was the use of prayer” (lines 7-8). This is a questioning by someone who had most probably been faithful in religion beforehand. The persona seems to be iconoclastic because of the tragedy. The superiority that had been attributed on the basis of skin color is something that has become part of imperialistic western standards. The image of Jesus Christ, the proponent of the most famous religion has been proliferated to be of light skin color although it may be scrutinized that he was not actually White. This has been done to create assimilation as the Romans who had disseminated the religion in scale are predominantly light.
The similarity between the two texts can mainly be seen in their setting as both took place in the South. The perceptible importance of the black characters was developed. As with the Negro servant in ‘A Rose for Emily’ who had been a silent mover in the course of the story epitomized loyalty for his master and the intimacy of the personas in ‘Song for a Dark Girl’ concurrently. But while the servant takes a secondary role, the poem puts his character in the spotlight. The macabre plots exemplify the congruence in technique of both writers in two different literary forms. The murder of Homer Barron in the short story and that of the poem integrates this. Another difference was the progression of the story where the short story lingered to bring it to a climactic ending but the poem was direct pointblank. But while Faulkner showed generational progress in abandoning Southern customs by the latter generation, Hughes deliberates on the racial discrimination that African-Americans endure.
Hughes, Langston. “Song for a Dark Girl.” N.p., n.d. Web. 28 Apr. 2010. .
Faulkner, William. “A Rose for Emily.” N.p., n.d. Web. 27 Apr. 2010. .
Norris, Keenan. Freedom Vision. 12 October 2006. 27 April 2010 .