Anthology Project

Mahnoor Sheikh

Professor. Jodi Rosen

ENG 2001-D536

Project 1

 

For the first time in my entire life there is a loud KNOCK! That echoes through my wings and startles me and makes me rather annoyed. Now. Moments from my timely death, something different decides to happen. Then another vicious sound cuts through the once silence room, CRACK. Which shakes loose dust from all corners of the room and ignites a cluster of intense buzzing. There are flies screeching hysterically flying back and forth into each other. There are so many of them though frantically flying that they look like a rising spike of smoke ascending from the still figure on the bed, into a dark black cloud. BZZZZ, BZZZZ, BZZZ. They are furiously buzzing louder and louder, much louder than any cluster of bumble bees. Still there are more flies rising, like a black sheet or a vortex of fear and consumption.  I want to get as far away from this meddlesome noise, of both my fellow flies and whatever that louder sound is but my body is weak. Regardless, I still decide to make an effort. I fling myself with all my strength towards a solitary narrow crack in the wall, where an ever slight breeze blows in. The air coming in is contrary to that of the environment of this confined space, it is fresh and clean. Against the stale, sour air within this room. I am able to slip through the crack, but before slipping through into sanctuary, I hear deep sounding murmurs coming from the other side of an old wooden door. The same door the ruckus is coming from. These brand new sounds differ to those of the shrill voice that are usually made. These voices sound different, they sound angry. I should leave immediately and pass away in peace, but I am paralyzed, by an aroma familiar but better. Blood. There is warm, gushy, tasty blood in those sounds. I have never had it fresh. The shrill voiced figure who I have not seen in a while she had blood, but it wasn’t fresh. It was old and the flavor was bland and vaguely metallic, lumpy and cold. They were so cold. But I was never too picky so her blood was mine. The shrill voiced figure had a friend who never made a sound in the entire time I existed. They were not tasty at all but they were accessible. Never moved, never winced, me and millions of other fly and maggots devoured them. Day after day. They would not swat at us. They just laid there without a care in the world. The shrill one would at least get up sometimes walk around look at their reflection in the mirror, comb their hair and eat. But this one, still. So was their blood. They never moved a muscle. And they were colder than the other one. If the shrill one was ice, this one was a winter day in the arctic. The two figures interacted a lot, the shrill one would cuddle up against the still one often. They kissed. And laid side by side for hours on end. Wrapped in each others embrace. But, the shrill voiced one, has not been around for a while.

Suddenly.

One last large wallop and BANG. The door gives way, and opens. My curiosity has piqued and I look to see several monumental figures but none the shrill one from before. All of the flies false confidence disperses as they all start flying out through the newly opened door or cracks in the floorboards or through keyholes or windows. I caution towards my crack. But still look on to see the expressions on their faces. These figures look different they are larger and their flesh is not discolored. Some hold a handkerchief to their noses, while others started coughing and gagging, one of them looks completely immobilized from fear. I observed them closely, every step closer into the room, every bit of dust their bodies disturbs. And then one figure with the look of horror on their face nears towards the exposed figure on the bed, who is almost like them. This figure’s flesh near gone and he has oozed and fused all over the bed in an array of browns, reds and blacks. He is literally apart of the bed. One of the more pink and motionful figures leans close towards the bed and on a pillow beside the cold figure, and picks up a solitary strand of hair he appears to be sickened and he begins gagging again. He drops the hair into the hand of one of the other large figures and rushes towards the door. In his path he unwittingly side steps and his shoe comes down in a swift motion going to crush me. And I am left to accept,

That this is the end.

Anthology

 

My first reading of a “Rose for Emily”, by William Faulkner was, in all honesty, confusing. For starters I did not personally understand why I would want the extremely limited point of view of an unnamed person from town, that made any information they provided seem like gossip. Then there was the way this no named civilian dictated the unraveling of events, in a disorganized, non sequential manner. They jumped from one moment of time to another so rapidly it was difficult to tell what was past or present. For instance talking about going to Emily’s home requesting she pay taxes to the moment the town started complaining about her house smelling bad, while the town complaining chronologically preceded the town asking Emily to pay taxes. Point of view of the narrator and the temporal unraveling of events, depicted through the use of tense, are both key elements of storytelling. The nature of tense that is narrated can create a tone, nostalgia if the the narrator is remembering previous events, such as in memoirs, or to build suspense if in present tense and we, the audience, are experiencing the events at the same moment as the protagonist, which is common to the horror genre. The narrative style establishes how much the reader knows and sets up bias based on who the storyteller is and their relationship to the story. In my retelling of Faulkner’s short story I change who the narrator is, the person they narrate in, the tense the narrator is talking in, and make the series of events run linear rather than jumbled up in order to reduce confusion of which events happened before others.

As previously acknowledged Faulkner’s narrator is an unnamed person from town, very little is known about the speaker but what can be inferred is that they are white, since they referred to Ms. Emily’s servant Tobe, as “the negro”. It can also be inferred that the narrator is a man because of the line, “Only a man of Colonel Sartoris’ generation and thought could have invented it, and only a woman could have believed it”, referring to women as naive, it can be assumed that a woman would not make a generalized negative statement about all women.  The benefits of this narrator is that they are witnessing the events but are not a main character, which means they had no influence in the events of the story, we only have access to their perception of them. This does not make the narrator completely reliable though, the narrator reveals their bias through their word choice, they seem to pity Emily Grierson. Admitting that they and the town felt “really sorry for her” and describing her as “SICK”, saying “poor Emily”..

I did not want my narrator to have any condescension for Emily Grierson, so clearly they could not be anyone from town. That left Emily herself. But then her bias would be much more extreme since she is the protagonist, she could not be objective in describing her own actions. So, I used defamiliarization, presenting common things in an unfamiliar way. My retelling is from the point of view of an objective fly who is about to die and is one of many other flys who have been eating Homer Barron’s decaying body. A fly has no understanding of morality, race, gender, classism, but most importantly no knowledge of Emily Grierson’s name and the respect that was once attached to it. As opposed to Faulkner’s narrator who describes Emily as someone metaphorically falling from grace losing her father, her money, and the towns respect as she physically and mentally declined over time. The fly just refers to Emily as the “shrill voiced figure”.

In my story the fly dictates events in the present tense the audience is experiencing the the events at the same time as the fly, this creates a suspense. Neither the fly nor the audience is aware of what the banging sound is on the other side of the door. Seen in lines such as, “For the first time in my entire life there is a loud KNOCK! That echoes through my wings and startles me and makes me rather annoyed”. And, “Then another vicious sound cuts through the once silence room, CRACK”. In my iteration of the story I stay within the same present tense a majority of the story only implying what happened previously. For instance how there had never been any loud banging before that day. While the opposite is apparent in the original version of the story seen in the transitions of talking about when it was assumed Emily purchased poison to kill herself to the town assuming she had passed away to her relatives moving in with her and then her dying years later. In my rendition all of the events are chronological so nothing is out of place.

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