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Life And Style Of William Faulkner Essay, Research Paper

The Life and Style of William Faulkner

William Faulkner was a writer in the early to mid 1900?s. Faulkner was born into a life of a well-known family and a somewhat rich family. Faulkner also has a very unique style and this paper will show his unique style in the story ?A Rose for Emily.?

William Faulkner was born on September 25, 1897 in New Albany, Mississippi. Faulkner was born into a pretty famous household. His great-grandfather, Senior John Sactoris was part of Mississippi?s history. His great-granddaddy was an author of several books, a lawyer, soldier, railroad builder, and poet. He was twice acquitted of murder charges.

` ?Faulkner grew up around traditional lore-family and regional stories, rural folk wisdom and humor, heroic and tragic accounts of the Civil War, and tales of the hunting code and the southern gentlemen?s ideas of conduct (Collier?s, 1)? He also grew up in conditions of poverty.

As a child Faulkner grew up in his hometown, Oxford, Mississippi. He went through all of grammar school and only a few years of high school and college classes. As a young adult Faulkner knew he wanted to be a writer. As a teenager Faulkner wrote and illustrated homemade books.

After attending a few college classes Faulkner entered the Royal Canadian Air Force during World War I. When the war came to an end Faulkner went back to his hometown of Oxford. To keep himself from becoming poor Faulkner performed many odd jobs, some of which included a journeyman, carpenter, house painter, fireman, night watchman, and a postman. During that time Faulkner started writing his first book, The Marble Fawn. The Marble Fawn, written in 1924, was a collection of largely intellectual and derivative verse.

After publishing his first novel Faulkner started moving around to such areas as the Bohemian Quarter of New Orleans, New York, and all over Europe. He moved around until he met Sherwood Anderson, and was advised to write pieces of fiction.

Sometime later Faulkner published his second novel, Mosquitoes, which was about his life in Bohemian Quarters of New Orleans. Two years later in 1929 Faulkner published Sarlons. This was Faulkner?s first book to include his made up country found in many of his stories, which was know as Yoknapatawpa County.

Faulkner died on July 6, 1962. His writing career lasted for three long decades and every single one of his novels from his first to his last have all been popular and won acclaim from many people.

Faulkner himself has a very unique style, ?he is credited with having the imagination to see, before other serious writers saw, the tremendous potential for dramas, pathos, and sophisticated humor in the history and people of the south (Short Story Writers, 293).? Faulkner has been called by many the Literary Carpenter. By using this material and showing others how to use this style Faulkner is credited with sparking the Southern Renaissance. By writing about the South?s history, Faulkner changed the American view on the people in the south. ?In undercutting the false idealizations, Faulkner often distorted the stereotypes and rendered them somewhat grotesque in the interest of bringing them to three-dimensional life; and he attempted to show through social and political presumptions of the South the portent of it?s inevitable destruction- first through war then through an insidious new social order based on commercial pragmatism and shortsighted lust for progress (Short Story Writers, 293).? In this sense the new south was shown as mainstream America.

Faulkner writes in a way that makes it harder for the reader to understand. He uses long sentences that challenge the reader to make out the speaker, the time, and even the subject of the narrative. Faulkner uses stream of consciousness interior monologues, and frequently combines time to stress his belief that the past and present are linked together in the human psyche. The story ?A Rose for Emily? exemplifies these points very well.

?A Rose for Emily? is one of Faulkner?s most critiqued stories and it is also one of his best stories as well. It is a popular book for its elements of mystery, suspense, and the macabre. In the story Emily Grierson murders her husband because he cheated on her and then she sleeps with his dead rotting carcass. The main point of the story is not her killing, but of her relationship to the two generations of people in her town, the first generation is known as the old guard and the second one is known as the new generation with ?modern ideas.?

In the beginning of the story the reader is informed that Emily is dead and the whole town goes to her funeral. Most of the people at the funeral were part of that young generation, and they could never really accept Emily into their generation. To them she was the classic idea of an old fashioned southern woman. In the story the old generation fathers relieve Miss Emily from taxes and they send their children to take part in her china painting classes. On the other hand, the new generation fathers do not think it is fair that she is exempted from taxes and make her pay, they do not allow their children to attend Miss Emily?s china painting classes. Because Miss Emily tells the town she will not pay the taxes and tells them to take it up with a man who has been dead for ten years she is labeled insane by that generation. After that she becomes somewhat of a recluse and lives in her home with her black servant. Miss Emily then becomes a symbol of the old generation?s values and the sins of the old fathers.

Many readers see Emily as just a symbol of the past, but to a point that is not correct. As the story goes on the reader finds out that she is not really part of the old generation either. She, in fact, is part of the post war generation, which was a defeated group that yearned for their Old World that they once had. The reader also finds out that the new generation is nothing but a bunch of posers, because of the way they adapted their life to fit the American way. As the reader can see the two generations are complicit in ignoring the real Emily and creating and maintaining the myth of Emily as a exemplum of southern womanhood from a lost age. As the story progresses there are two men who buy limestone and sprinkle it around Emily?s house to get rid of the smell of the rotting carcass, and once the smell went away the town dropped the issue.

The story now goes to the characterization of the slave era, the new south learns to forget the past by forgetting that Miss Emily the recluse and murderess, and by valorizing the romantic tableau. The new generation sees the Greirsons as a high and mighty power; they also inherited a land sullied with cotton gins and garbage that commemorate the old south?s defeat.

In the end the narrator, a townsperson himself, reveals Miss Emily?s real purpose.

She was a reminder that both generations were guilty of the same misplaced value. Not only did they let Miss Emily, the murderess, come into being, but also that they covered up her crime and enshrined her in a tableau into which they can inset themselves. There is an interbreeding of ideas between the two groups that allow them to have such bad ideas in maintaining the ideas of what they would like to be.

Miss Emily is a fallen monument not only to her family but also to the ends of the two generations. The monument is topped with death and not by the ethical evolution of the town. The narrator realizes it was the town?s fault for Miss Emily?s actions, because they drove her into isolation madness by treating her bad.

Blother, Joseph. Faulkner: A biography. Second Volume. (1972; repr.1991).

Brooks, Cleanth. The Yaknapatawpha Country and William Faulkner: Toward

Yonapatawpha and Beyond. (1978).

Collier?s Encyclopedias Online. 1997

Compton?s Encyclopedia Online. The Learning Company Inc. 1997.

Greenburg, Martin H. and Charles G. Waugh, Eds. Great Short Stories of the 20th

Century. New York: Avenel Books, 1987.

Hoffman, J. Frederick. William Faulkner. New York: Twayne Publishers Inc. 1966.

Karl, Frederick. William Faulkner: An American Writer. (1989; repr. 1990).

Lee, A.R. William Faulkner: The Yoknapatawpha Fiction. (1986).

Meriwether, James B. Studies in the Sound and the Fury. (1985).

Skaggs, Calvin. Ed. The American Short Story ?Volume 2.? New York: Dell Publishing

Co., 1980.

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