Comparative Essay “A Rose for Emily” & “Poor Emily”

The original story, “A Rose for Emily,” by William Faulkner is told using first person narration.  The narrator is a member of the town where Miss Emily lived, who is a minor character not centrally involved in the plot.  This type of narration limited the access of the reader to the thoughts, emotions, setting of events and interaction of the point of view character Miss Emily, with other characters.  In the retelling of the story entitled, “Poor Emily,” the narration used is third person limited.  Tobe, Miss Emily’s servant becomes a central character in the story.   With this type of narration the narrator is able to provide readers with in-depth access to the thoughts and feelings of Miss Emily.  Readers also gain access to the settings and events they were not privileged with in the style of the original story narration.  Also Tobe, a key person in Miss Emily’s life becomes less mysterious.  The reader is able to get a glimpse of his interaction with Miss Emily inside the home.

The original story started with the death of Miss Emily, the narrator opened the plot by stating, “when Miss Emily died, our whole town went to her funeral.”   This is in contrast to the retelling where the plot commenced with the death of Emily’s father, Mr. Grierson.  The narrator stated, “when Miss Emily’s father died Tobe was worried about her.”  The original story is told using the flashback technique.  This technique resulted in plots from earlier events interrupting current events as the story progressed.  For example, although the story began with the death of Miss Emily the author then told the events that led up to the death of Miss Emily before culminating the events surrounding her death.

The retelling, “Poor Emily,” told the story in chronological order.  The plot unfolded to the reader frame by frame as events occurred.  There is however, one aspect of the story where flashback was used briefly.  This occurred when Mr. Grierson’s died and Miss Emily was in denial and refused to bury him.  “Just as the law was ready to force her to release the body Tobe appeared at the coroner’s office.”  “Miss Emily is ready to bury her father was all he said.” The flashback occurred when the narrator stated, “It was not an easy task for Tobe to get Miss Emily to relent.”  “This is wrong Miss Emily.” “He said to her earlier that morning.”  Clearly Tobe went to speak to the coroner before the reader was given access to the event or conversation that occurred before he was allowed by Miss Emily to go there.

The original story had more plots for the reader to follow.  Faulkner started with Miss Emily’s death then he gave us an insight into her life and the various events that occurred.  He gave us an insigt into her life when she was alone and was excluded from paying taxes by Colonel Sartoris.  After the Colonel’s death the new town officials saw through the made up story of a so call loan that Emily’s father had given to the town.  They became adamant that Miss Emily pay her taxes.  Of course she refused stating, “I have no taxes in Jefferson, Colonel Sartoris explained it to me.” From there the story progressed to the death of her father.  Then her life seemed to be renewed when she met Homer Barron her love interest.  The narrator stated on page 5, “presently we began to see him and Miss Emily on Sunday afternoons driving in the yellow-wheeled buggy and the matched team of bays from the livery stable.”   Unlike the original story the retelling has less plot and the chronological order helps the reader to follow the plot much easier.

In the original story the only insight we had into the emotions of Miss Emily is when she became a recluse after her father’s death and again after she killed Homer Baron.  On page 3  the narrator sated, “after her father’s death she went out very little, after her sweetheart went away, people hardly see her at all.”  It is clear that when she was experiencing situations that made her sad she would avoid being seen in public.  In the retelling we get the sense of how devastated she was after her father died.  On page 1 while she was grieving and in denial of her father’s death she angrily spoke to Tobe, “no one is to touch my father!” “as she turned her head tears ran down her cheek.”  This is a moment where the reader gets to understand the level of distress Miss Emily was experiencing.  In the original story the reader could only imply that she was sad because she lost her father and was alone, husbandless and had no family in town.

Another contrasting moment in the retelling and the original story is how Miss Emily met Homer Baron.  In the original story Faulkner gave the reader no insight as to how Miss Emily met Homer Barron.  The reader had an understanding of who Homer Barron was and suddenly Miss Emily started to be seen with him on Sunday afternoons.  In the retelling the reader has a better idea of how they both met.  On page 2 Tobe explained who Homer Barron was, “he is out there with some niggers paving the sidewalks.”   “Tobe she yelled as the noise became more bothersome, fetch me my hat.”  “When she came back inside Tobe thought he saw a faint smile on her face.”  This indicated to the reader that Miss Emily’s first meeting with Homer Barron was a pleasant base on her demeanor.

The mood of the original story is somber and tragic.  Because of the nature of the plot the retelling had to remain in the same tone.  Miss Emily in both stories was sad and lonely.  For a while it seemed as if her prospects was changing after she met Homer Barron, everyone including her thought she was to be married.  However, this was not to be.  Both the original and the retelling ended in tragedy for Miss Emily.  While the original kept the reader in suspense about the whereabouts of Homer Barron after the night Tobe admitted him through the kitchen door.   The retelling gave the reader obvious hints about what happened to Homer Barron.  The narrator stated, “after the meal Homer just sat there as if he could not move.”  “Tobe, take Mr. Barron upstairs to his room said Miss Emily.”  “The next day he thought Homer had left town.”  “He noticed the room he had put Homer in was kept locked.”  Then the overpowering smell that reminded Tobe of when the father had died came back.

 

 

 

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