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Comparing the Setting of Barn Burning to a Rose for Emily

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Comparing the Setting of “Barn Burning” to that of “A Rose for Emily”

William Faulkner has written some of the most unique novels and short stories of any author, and, to this day, his stories continue to be enjoyed by many. Both “Barn Burning” and “A Rose for Emily” tell about the life of southern people and their struggles with society, but Faulkner used the dramatic settings of these two stories to create a mood unlike any other and make the audience feel like they too were a part of these southern towns. These two stories have many similarities in there setting, but they also have many differences to that make them unique and interesting.

In many of Faulkner’s stories, he tells about an imaginary county in Mississippi named Yoknapatawpha. He uses this county as the setting for his story “Barn Burning” and it is also thought that the town of Jefferson from “A Rose for Emily” is located in Yoknapatawpha County. The story of a boy’s struggle between being loyal to his family or to his community makes “Barn Burning” exciting and dramatic, but a sense of awkwardness and unpleasantness arrives from the story of how the fictional town of Jefferson discovers that its long time resident, Emily Grierson, has been sleeping with the corpse of her long-dead friend with whom she has had a relationship with.

Another point is, both stories take place after the civil war, but “Barn Burning” takes place in a more rural area. In paragraph 2 of “A Rose for Emily,” it says, “only Miss Emily’s house was left, lifting its stubborn and coquettish decay above the cotton wagons and the gasoline pumps.” This statement gives proof that Jefferson is an urban society that is moving into the industrial period. The Snopes family in “Barn Burning” lives in the outskirts of a small rural town of farmers and sharecroppers. The contrast between the somewhat urban and high class environment of “A Rose for Emily” and the dirt covered town in “Barn Burning” becomes evident when the two houses are described.

Another aspect that contributes to the stories’ setting is the descriptions of the homes of the Snopes and the Griersons. Miss Emily’s home is described as being decorated and clean with many details in the woodwork, and the Snopes’ home is told to be a paintless, two bedroom house like the many others they had lived in. Both homes in the stories have become the symbol for the class of people which they house, but as Miss Emily had shrunk from her aristocratic mindset, so did her house. The location of the action of both stories cannot be more different, but their locations contribute greatly to the mood created in the stories.

The atmosphere created in these two stories is quite unique, but both stories have a sense of secrecy about them. In “Barn Burning,” the audience can tell that the father is withholding something from the other characters and never comes out and talks about burning the barns, and in “A Rose for Emily,” Miss Emily uses passive resistance because she feels that she is better than everyone else, thus creating a mysterious demeanor. The audience knows that Miss Emily is hiding something from the characters, and it’s not until after her death that her secret is revealed. “Barn Burning” has a suspenseful atmosphere from the beginning, and this becomes evident in the quiet wagon ride to the Snopes’ new home. “He did not know where they were going. None of them ever did or ever asked,” Sarty explains in paragraph 25 of “Barn Burning.” The wild and quick temper of Sarty’s father makes the audience feel like they’re on the edge, because they never know what he is going to do. In “A Rose for Emily,” there is an awkward feeling created because Miss Emily is keeping quiet about her actions. When the Aldermen came to Miss Emily’s home, “it smelled of dust and disuse” and “a faint dust rose sluggishly about their thighs.” The dirty and dark atmosphere of her house gives the story its mystifying feeling and the audience continues to want to find out why she has let her home go to waste. Also, the dirt and grime of her home is bringing Miss Emily down from her noblesse oblige state of mind. On the other hand the character Colonel Sartoris is used in both stories which helps develop the post civil war mood. The audience ends both stories feeling at a loss for words because the endings are unexpected. The reader does not expect Miss Emily to have been sleeping with a dead man, nor do we expect Sarty to go against his own family ending in the death of his father. The atmosphere of both stories entices the readers into feeling nasty

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