Compare and Contrast: “A Rose for Emily” by William Faulkner and “The Lottery” by Shirley Jackson
October 8, 2018
“A Rose for Emily”, by William Faulkner and “The Lottery”, by Shirley Jackson have many similarities and differences. Both short stories are written in the gothic style of fiction with third person narrators that paint the picture of undeniable underlying fear and a level of conflict between the character’s and the communities that they live in. The main comparisons between the two short stories are the unwillingness to change, subtle violence and how both Tessie in “The Lottery” and Emily in “A Rose for Emily” are victims of the society they live in. Jackson and Faulkner both hint at outdated tradition and flawed human nature in society. In “The Lottery”, Jackson writes of a town that appears as normal, but has a dark and sinister tradition of conducting a lottery drawing annually amongst the heads of households to determine who will be stoned to death for the benefit of the town in hopes that it may help the crops flourish. In “A Rose for Emily”, Faulkner writes of a once beautiful woman, who came from a wealthy family was never allowed by her father to be courted because no one was ever good enough for her. Having to be forced to come to terms with the passing of her father three days later Emily decides to never be left alone again. Emily refuses to conform to the towns request for taxes and to modernize her home with numbers for the postal service. When a laborer, named Homer from the north comes to town for work on the upgrade on the roads, he and Emily become close and in fear that he may also abandon her, she poisons him and proceeds to sleep next to his decaying corpse for decades. In both stories there is conflict between the main characters and the community that they live in, conflict between the main characters and other characters and conflict between the main characters and the traditions that influence the everyday expectations within the social norm of their culture.
There are many ways that a reader can be prepared for the ending of a story. In “A Rose for Emily” and “The Lottery” they use the narrational stance, imagery and foreshadowing to prepare the reader for the ending. The narrational stance in “A Rose for Emily” was third person biography, which is defined as a single character point of view in which the narrator is not involved with the story and the narrational stance in “The Lottery” was third person anonymous which involves a narrator that takes no stance, just tells the story from a member of the town’s point of view. How the story is told is one integral part in how the reader may prepare for the foreshadowed endings of each story.
Tradition and the resistance to change are extremely important and prevalent in both short stories. In “The Lottery” the town uses an old black wooden box that is made from pieces of the box that preceded it and itself has become “shabbier each year” (Jackson 256) and “was no longer completely black but splintered badly” (Jackson 256). While waiting for the lottery to start, a few of the town’s people mentioned how other towns have “talked of giving up the lottery.” (Jackson 259) The notion of no longer having the tradition drew a tart response from Old Man Warner, who had participated in seventy seven lottery drawings, snorted “Pack of crazy fools” (Jackson 259) he went on to say declare “nothing’s good enough for them.” (Jackson 259)
In “A Rose for Emily” Emily herself is described as “a tradition, a duty, and a care; a sort of hereditary obligation upon the town” (Faulkner 219). Emily initially refuses to accept that her father died and kept people way from his body for three days, only giving in just before the town resorted to “law and force” (Faulkner 222) did she break down and allow them to bury him. As the story progresses it is clear that Emily has no intentions of conforming from her old southern traditions and even refuses to place numbers and a mailbox on her house when the town got free postal delivery. Emily continues to refute the allegations that she owes the town taxes, turning the aldermen away each time they sent a letter or stopped by her house, which had become “an eyesore of eyesores.” (Faulkner 219)
Subtle violence is included into each story. In “The Lottery” the fact that Tessie is stoned to death by the same people that she was just joking and conversing with moments before as if the act was just another chore in the lives of hardworking men and women is astonishing. The calloused way that murder is carried out by the town’s people is accentuated