12 Jul 2009

Essays on Absalom, Absalom!

The story of “Absalom, Absalom!” takes place during the era from 1833 to 1909.  It is the chronicle of the Stupen family of Jefferson, Mississippi, the patriarch of which is Thomas Stupen who arrives in Jefferson in 1833, arriving with a French architect and several slaves.  Thomas ends up marrying the daughter of a local merchant who gives birth to a son and a daughter.  The children grow in uncultivated northern Mississippi countryside.  Thomas’ son, Henry, goes off to college where he meets a debonair student, Charles Bon, with the two becoming fast friends.  When Henry brings Charles home for Christmas, Charles seems to fall madly in love with Henry’s sister, Judith.  Thomas comes to realize that Charles is his own son from a prior marriage.  When Thomas tries to warn Henry, Henry believes his father is lying to him and leaves with Charles.

After Henry and Charles serve in the Confederate Army, Henry returns home and is told the whole truth about Charles, including the fact that Charles was given birth by a woman who was part black.  This information causes Henry to turn on Charles and when Charles returns to marry Judith, Henry murders him in front of the plantation gates.  Years later, Henry is murdered himself by a half-sister who was born of one of Thomas’ black slaves.

  • The story’s presentation was considered innovative when it was written.  Presented as a series of flashbacks as the events were related by different people telling the character Quentin Compson the details they were individually aware of, the story follows Quentin’s efforts to learn more about the history of the Stupen.    As each person relates their knowledge to this twenty year old college student, the dynamics of the tale come into focus. Describe the strengths and weaknesses of this approach and how effectively the approach was used in the novel
    The novel covers several controversial topics, including divorce, incest, racism and slavery.  Select one of these topics and discuss how the story presented the topic, how the topic itself affected the flow and outcome of the story and how these views have changed over the years in our society.

To piece together the puzzle of “Absalom, Absalom!” takes particular talent that many students lack.    The intricacies of its presentation give many students difficulty.  The novel’s name itself even holds somewhat hidden significance with the name Absalom coming from the Hebrew language, meaning “Father” or “Leader of,” giving a hidden hint of the novel’s nature.  Our skilled writers are available to assist in development of essays on this and many other literary novels.  Contact us today and let us assist you in the writing of your next essay assignment.

Filed under: College literature papers — Tags: , , , , — admin @ 12:56 pm

23 Jun 2009

Sample Essay: A Rose For Emily By William Faulkner

William Faulkner’s A Rose for Emily was published on April 30, 1930, and it is a short story that occurs in Yoknapatawpha County, a fictional county created by Faulkner as a setting for many of his novels. The county is located in northwestern Mississippi and its seat of government is located in Jefferson. In this essay, we will attempt to characterize Emily Grierson, the main character of the story, to further examine her actions, behavior and the symbolism of these.

A Rose for Emily is the story of Miss Emily Grierson and her eccentric and somewhat unconventional life. Based on all her actions throughout the story, one cannot help but wonder whether she was just indeed eccentric or downright suffering from a psychological illness. It is the belief of this writer however, that she is just eccentric and hardly afflicted by insanity. It should be noted the old South went by certain strictly held traditions and beliefs. Emily was a representation of these old norms, and so her actions must be understood in that same context. During those times, women of high class such as Emily played very limited roles in society. Mostly, they were restricted to a show of support for their husbands, and if not, there was a semblance of deference always required towards the men. If anything, Emily’s behavior of keeping Homer’s death a secret affair is merely a symbolism for her finally wanting to break free of those same restrictive traditions. Also, the allusion that she was insane could just be another way for the townspeople to excuse themselves for their ignorance of her. The insanity defense is supported by the comparison between her and her house, which through neglect, eventually crumbles slowly into decay. But this image of a slowly rotting house could stand for Emily’s increasingly eccentric behavior, and should by no means be taken as conclusive symbolism for her becoming crazy. Up to the very end of the story, it can be said that her actions were merely eccentric, perhaps even overly so, but not to the point of being mentally unstable or ill.

In the story, although it is commonly assumed that Emily herself killed Homer (through the use of the arsenic she had bought) there can be other conjectures made, such as her Negro servant being the one to have done it. Had it been Emily, her motivation for killing Homer would have been immediately obvious: she had surely known that he was not really interested in marrying her, and since she believed herself to have finally had love, she couldn’t bring it upon her to lose him. As for her long-time servant being responsible, it was also possible for he too, had motive. Being an extremely loyal helper to Emily, he would also have known about Homer’s true intentions, and in order to avoid Emily from getting hurt, decided to kill Homer that he may “stay” with her forevermore. Furthermore, black is a symbolic representation of death, depression or gloom. The very fact that her servant was black could have special meaning then, especially after factoring in the mysterious death of Homer Barron. With regards to the strand of hair found beside Homer’s decaying body, it can be supposed that either she had lain down with him after he died, or had sex with him after the same. The latter scenario, as unbelievable as it sounds, is one of the many contentions given by critical analysts of the novel.

The story also represents the decay and crumbling of the old Southern gentile class, and Emily is Faulkner’s representation of the past generations. The short story is one of those classified as belonging to the Southern Gothic genre, a type of writing style which has story elements with one form of unfortunate quality or the other, while still having a redeeming factor all the while. Emily fits this characterization of the Southern Gothic genre, as her eccentricity is one of the defining facets of her personality, while her desire to be able to love is another. There are also other possible interpretations to the narrative, such that Emily’s refusal to conform to the wishes of the new county administration runs parallel to the idea of the American South being unable or unwilling to follow in the footsteps of the American North. This is where A Rose for Emily is possibly being related to events after the Civil War. Emily’s refusal is very symbolic of this same incident in American history. She is further representative of the Old South with her southern heritage and actions. Her complete stubbornness and unrelenting attitude towards change represented the very values held by Southern society during those times. Also, her behavior was completely contrasting to the behavior and values being exhibited by the rest of her society at the time (her refusal to pay taxes even after so many years on the grounds of Colonel Sartoris’ proclamation, even though he had long been dead), and this is indicative of the South’s being hard-pressed to adapt and change as compared to the North. And if Emily was Faulkner’s representation of the South, Homer Barron stood for the North, a symbol of modern times and adaptability to change. Ultimately, A Rose for Emily uses grotesque mental imagery and first person plural narration to highlight a society trapped in the vestiges, belief and traditions of the past and its struggles to move into the future.

Works Cited

A Rose for Emily.28 Mar. 2007.Ariyam.com.29 Mar. 2007 <http://www.ariyam.com/docs/lit/wf_rose.html>

A Rose for Emily.2007.Answers.com.29 Mar. 2007. <http://www.answers.com/topic/a-rose-for-emily>

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