Foreshadowing for Emily

The outcome of “A Rose for Emily” seemed to shock many readers as well as the townspeople and family members that surrounded the famous Miss Emily Grierson inside the film adaptation of the story. Sure, keeping a dead lover’s body hostage and occasionally lying beside it for a good cuddle is far from normal, but the odd thought here is how did everyone not see this coming? Several times in this story it foreshadows directly to the theory of Miss Emily killing off Homer Baron and hiding him in her house somewhere. William Faulkner uses the way Emily acted towards her father’s death, when she bought the poison, Homer Baron being last seen at her house, and that lingering smell to foreshadow the fact that Miss Emily killed and hid Homer Baron’s body inside her house.

Now the director of the film adaptation, Lyndon Chubbuck, decided to take a totally different approach to the story than William Faulkner. Of course, we know that most films over dramatize stories and bring them to life with more personality. But given that Faulkner chooses to tell the story “in reverse”, allows him to completely leave out any details of shock or concern shown by the townspeople and family. In the film adaptation, Chubbuck decides to tell the story in chronological order and the shock and disbelief of the family who finds Homer’s dead body is very clear. The very fact that the film is in chronological order creates more suspense which is why the shock is so much more apparent in the film than in the story itself.

Miss Emily’s father was very strict about men who were interested in her. He turned away most of her suitors. “None of the young men were quite good enough for Miss Emily and such. Her father a spraddled silhouette in the foreground, his back to her and clutching a horsewhip” (319). Miss Emily was close to her father because he was the only family figure that she had in her life. But given Miss Emily’s peculiar relationship with her father it was strange when she acted the way she did when he passed away. When asked about her father’s death by townspeople Miss Emily simply replied with “her father was not dead” and did it with “no trace of grief on her face” (319). It’s like she was just trying to pretend that her father was not dead and that everything was normal. Miss Emily kept lying to everyone, including herself, for three whole days before the doctors and police had to force her to let them dispose of her father’s body properly. This is the same thing that she did with Homer’s body later on in the story. That is why it is so surprising that when the townspeople found Homer’s body they were so shocked. The townspeople knew that Miss Emily didn’t do well with her father’s death. What makes them think that she wouldn’t do it again?

When Miss Emily and Homer Baron were seen together, people assumed that they would be together for a very long time because he was the only man that she had been with because of her strict father. But townspeople were skeptical because they thought Miss Emily would never be with a Northerner and there were rumors of Homer liking men. No one knows why Miss Emily decided to kill Homer but a good guess would be that she was afraid that he would leave her just like her father. In an interview William Faulkner said that “Her father had kept her more or less locked up and then she had a lover who was about to quit her, she had to murder him” (904). Miss Emily, like so many other young girls, just want to find love, and be happy with their lover. But for Miss Emily, that would never happen. Whenever her father left her, she kept his body, so it makes sense that when Homer “wanted to leave”, Miss Emily wanted to preserve his body for as long as possible. “I want some poison. I want the best you have. I don’t care what kind. I want arsenic” (320). The fact that Miss Emily bought the strongest rat poison right after she was seen with Homer is very suspicious. Some of the townspeople thought she would use the poison to kill herself, but after Homer Barron completely disappeared and Miss Emily was still living, people should have at least suspected Miss Emily of doing something to him. The buying of the poison is a direct foreshadow to what Miss Emily uses to kill Homer later on in the story.

To tie right in with that theory of Miss Emily using the rat poison on Homer, it was oddly peculiar that Homer Barron was last seen entering Miss Emily’s house. When Homer first disappeared, Miss Emily’s family had arrived just for a short while. The townspeople assumed that Emily was just preparing the house for Homer because they still believed that they were married. When Homer came back, all was well, so they thought. “A neighbor saw the Negro man admit him at the kitchen door at dusk one evening. And that was the last we saw of Homer Barron” (321). The very last place Homer was seen alive was Miss Emily’s doorstep. There was no sighting of him ever leaving the house. If that did not cause suspicion around the neighborhood, the townspeople must have not been as nosy as the story perceives them. How could they have been so shocked when they found Homer’s dead corpse when he was last seen walking inside Miss Emily’s house? This is another clear example of how Faulkner uses foreshadowing throughout this story.

Lastly, the lingering smell that filled Miss Emily’s house and had all the neighbors complaining was strange. The police and judge argued about the cause saying that it was just a “snake or a rat that nigger of hers killed in the yard” (318). But to think that just a snake or rat could cast a smell so strong that several of the local men had to take upon their own actions to try and stop it is absurd. One small dead animal would not cause such a disgusting smell that took “a week or two” (319) to go away fully. It could only be something larger. Like a dead body??

It is just downright confusing to see that both the readers of the story and the family/townspeople that found the body did not put all these foreshadowing pieces together to get the bigger picture that is presented in the end. In the film adaptation, the scenes are chronologically set up to lead up to this big finale, allowing the foreshadowing to be even more prominent. William Faulkner clearly uses foreshadowing as a key element in his story, “A Rose for Emily”. That theory is proven by showing Miss Emily’s clear problem with her father’s death in the beginning of the story, her suspicious buying of the rat poison, the fact that Homer Barron was last seen arriving at her house, and that lingering smell that engulfed her house.

Work Cited

A Rose for Emily. Dir. Lyndon Chubbuck. Perf. Anjelica Huston, John Randolph, John Carradine. Pyramid Home Video, 1982. DVD.

Faulkner, William. “A Rose for Emily.” The Story and Its Writer. Ed. Ann Charters. Compact 9th ed. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2014. 317-23. Print.

Faulkner, William. “The Meaning of ‘A Rose for Emily.’” The Story and Its Writer. Ed. Ann Charters. Compact 9th ed. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2014. 903-904. Print.


What We Do When We Talk About Difficult Topics

In reality, people try to hide behind topics such as the Holocaust and the meaning of love to avoid talking about them because so many people have different views on them. In both Raymond Carver’s “What We Talk About When We Talk About Love” and Nathan Englander’s “What We Talk About When We Talk About Anne Frank” the author uses leisurely activities like drinking and smoking marijuana to make the dense topics discussed in each story lighter to talk about. Given that the characters were participating in said activities while being in a laid back setting and atmosphere allowed for a more comfortable platform for them to engage in difficult topics. These activities create a “safe haven” for the characters to openly talk about things that bother them and stimulate interesting conversations in each story.

In Carver’s story, four friends get together to have a low-key night just sitting around drinking gin with lime, when all of sudden they get on the topic of love. Love, which seems to be a simple topic, has a whirlwind of different meanings to the four individuals, and when they mix alcohol with their opinions it just seems to fuel their fires. Do any of them actually know what love is? “It seems to me we’re just beginners at love. We say we love each other and we do, I don’t doubt it” (136). Love is such a difficult topic to dig deep into, but in this particular passage Mel gets confused about how love works, and wonders how he loves Terri so much, but once loved his ex-wife just as much as her. After Mel finishes his drunken rant Terri responds with “Mel, for God’s sake, are you getting drunk? Honey? Are you drunk?” (136). It’s as if Mel is using this time to get these things off his mind, and him having a few glasses of gin in his system grants him a new found freedom to say these things that he wouldn’t normally say in any other setting.

In the first part of Carver’s story, it mentions Terri’s past with her abusive ex, and Mel continues to bicker with her about it throughout the story. Love is a powerful thing, but when it leads to abuse is it really love? Abuse is a touchy subject to talk about, and it is another topic that the author chooses to have the characters discuss while under the influence of alcohol. Carver uses the clear explanations of Terri’s past to show that she was obviously engulfed in the possession of love and she still believed that her ex loved her even though he abused her. Mel and Terri then begin to disagree with her telling her that abuse does not really equal true love. This gives evidence to the fact that many people have different opinions and definitions of love. It must have been hard for Terri and Mel to relive the pain that Terri’s ex once brought to them, but the fact that they were in such a comfortable setting with alcohol in their systems helped them to open up to problems that were bothering them.

Lastly, near the end of Carver’s story, the two couples seem to be at a loss when the gin runs out. “Mel turned his glass over. He spilled it out on the table. “Gin’s gone,” Mel said. Terri said, “Now what?” (141). It’s as if as soon as the gin ran out, their time to talk was up. After that they just proceed to sit there not saying a thing to one another. The group didn’t even pursue their plan of going out to eat after their gathering. It seems like they all ended up in a drunken haze and after they were finished drinking, the “safe zone” to talk about whatever they please had ceased.

Similarly, in Englander’s story, alcohol is ultimately replaced with the smoking of marijuana. Englander’s story is based very closely on Carver’s and the evidence shows that there are a few reasons he chose to do this. Englander chose a topic that is very similar to the topics of love and abuse shown in Carver’s story. All of those topics are often very hard to talk about and there are a few elements that Carver used in his story, which Englander also used to make his story more casual and to set up a comfortable vibe for the topics. The setting and the atmospheres of both stories are key in the overall digestion of the topics. Both take place in a very informal setting with friends just catching up to have a drink and reminisce. There are no pressing matters for the friends to engage in, they are all just having a fun, relaxed night in. Also, the dialogue in both stories is very laid back and allows for easy flow. Both stories have the characters engaging in sort of small talk before they ease in to bigger topics. Englander modeled his story on Carver’s because of this relaxed vibe, which made him feel more open about discussing big topics, such as the Holocaust.

In Englander’s story, four friends are reunited and they begin normally reminiscing on their previous years, until they break out the pot. What makes this story interesting is the fact that the couples are Jewish and the Holocaust was a very traumatizing time for that religion especially, making this an ultra-difficult topic to bring up. The couples start off by drinking alcohol and just talking about random topics up until they discover Deb and Shoshana’s past with smoking marijuana. Then Deb suggests that they smoke some pot right there during their reunion. Like in Carver’s story, the pot provides a certain “sweet escape” for these couples, and it allows them to talk about things with a more comfortable vibe.

At the end of Englander’s story, the two couples are searching for food to fulfill their munchies craving. The narrator and Deb’s large pantry strikes up a talk about the Holocaust and how they are preparing just in case a second Holocaust would come. The topic of a game Deb and Shoshana used to play, who will hide me, came up. The Holocaust is a serious issue, and the effects of the marijuana seem to make Mark and Shoshana view this game as silly and unnecessary. Mark jokes when asked if one of his Christian friends would hide him and his wife during the Holocaust. “He’d be good for that, a Mormon. Forget this pantry. They have to keep a year of food stored in case of the Rapture, or something like that” (306) It’s as if he looks totally past the seriousness of the issue of the Holocaust, and just looks at it as a joke. This is yet another example of how the leisurely activity of smoking marijuana just sets a comfortable mood to talk about a traumatizing topic.

In both Carver’s “What We Talk About When We Talk About Love” and Englander’s “What We Talk About When We Talk About Anne Frank” a common “safe zone” was created by doing things like drinking alcohol and smoking marijuana. This allowed the characters to feel comfortable talking about topics that they wouldn’t normally talk about in an everyday setting. Both Carver and Englander used the smooth, relaxed atmospheres of the settings, paired with easy dialogue and the leisurely activities to make them feel more open to introducing harsh topics in their stories.

Work Cited

Carver, Raymond. “What We Talk About When We Talk About Love.” The Story and Its Writer. Ed. Ann Charters. Compact 9th ed. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2014. 132-141. Print.

Englander, Nathan. “What We Talk About When We Talk About Anne Frank.” The Story and Its Writer. Ed. Ann Charters. Compact 9th ed. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2014. 293-307. Print.

Pressure To Be Perfect

In Amy Tan’s “Two Kinds” a young daughter tells a truthful account of her demanding mother who pushed her to a breaking point in her race for seeking her daughter’s best. From the very beginning of this story, the mother has been pressuring her daughter to try so many different things so that she will excel in something that she is not, and the daughter had no choice but to stand there and take what her mother put her through. “In all of my imaginings, I was filled with a sense that I would soon become perfect” (821). Focusing specifically on the passages where Jing-Mei’s mother is trying to pressure her into trying activities that she clearly doesn’t want to pursue, should a child really be focused on being perfect at such a young age? Where is the carefree notions that a child should have? A child should not be disappointed in themselves for not accomplishing something that has been forced upon them. Was Jing-Mei’s childhood diminished from her mother’s demanding ways? And was her mother’s actions simple brought own because the lack in her own life, I think so.

As we know from the passage, Jing-Mei’s mother was troubled back in China, and she thought by coming to America, the big, bright land of opportunity, it would be a somewhat new start for her. “My mother believed you could be anything you wanted to be in America. You could become instantly famous” (821). So, instead of becoming something for herself, she pushes her daughter to do it. She forced Jing-Mei through several different activities to try and make her find something that stuck with her. “Every night after dinner, my mother and I would sit at the Formica kitchen table. She would present new tests, taking her examples from stories of amazing children she had read” (822). All of the mother’s life, she has experienced loss. China never gave her what she really needed. The mother doesn’t want Jing-Mei to end up like her. That has to be one of the reasons she pushes her so hard to accomplish something. Over and over, Jing-Mei’s mother tells her that she only wants Jing-Mei to try her best, not be a genius (824). But, how is she supposed to accomplish her best when her mother is trying to push her to be something she is not. Maybe if she let Jing-Mei choose an activity that she enjoys best, then she would have actually tried to succeed with it.

Secondly, Jing-Mei’s mother pushed her so hard, because she wanted her to be as good as the other children that she saw and read about. Whenever the mother was talking with friends, Lindo Jong starts bragging about her daughter Waverly and all of her chess accomplishments. The mother brags back “Our problem worser than yours. If we ask Jing-Mei wash dish, she hear nothing but music. It’s like you can’t stop this natural talent” (825). This goes to the issue of pride. It’s like a “my horse is bigger than your horse” competition. Children should not be used like this. Lots of parents think that their children are the best, and will fight to prove that to anyone. It could come down to a culture thing. Different cultures believe different things and have diverse ways of raising children. People from Chinese descent are often known to push their kids harder than most. That may or may not be the case in this passage, but the mother certainly has a standard for Jing-Mei, and she pushes her to reach that standard whether she likes it or not.

Thirdly, the demanding ways of the mother has caused Jing-Mei to give up her childhood. “And after seeing my mother’s disappointed face once again, something inside of me began to die. I hated the tests, the raised hopes and failed expectations” (822). A child should not have to feel this way. Jing-Mei is still very young and most kids at this age are still carefree and dependent on their families. Jing-Mei was too busy with constant practices and experimentation with different activities to be a child. She doesn’t get any real free time to be imaginative and play with toys, and that might be a factor towards her overall thoughts about her mother. On the first page of the passage, she imagines herself being perfect, like a ballerina or Cinderella, but she knows that dream will never be unless she reaches the prodigy in herself (821-822). Children should be able to imagine freely without the thoughts of perfect even being in her mind. Even at that age, children should have freedom to be what they want to be, and do what they want to do. And Jing-Mei doesn’t have that option until she decides to make it for herself.

Overall, I think the mother’s impact made a bad influence on Jing-Mei. In the passages, where Jing-Mei’s mother demanded her to try things that she clearly didn’t enjoy is where the evidence lies. Even though she wanted Jing-Mei to accomplish more than she did, and be as good as or better than other children, her demanding ways put a big damper on Jing-Mei’s childhood. Even if the mother thought that pushing her daughter would be good in the long run, it ended up being a big disappointment for the both of them.


Works Cited

Tan, Amy. “Two Kinds.” The Story and Its Writer. Compact 9th Ed. ed. Ann Charters. Boston: Bedford/St Martin’s, 2015. 821-829.