In order to truly understand and appreciate a story, it needs to be taken and profoundly analyzed, different aspects need to be considered like settings, the time it is supposed to be taking place in, the location, even the writer plays a big role. Here comparing and contrasting the stories ‘A Rose for Emily’ by William Faulkner and ‘Everyday Use’ by Alice Walker, ‘A rose for Emily’ is written by William Faulkner in the form of a short story where the it is divided into sections that follow the life of Emily Grierson, the whole story takes place in in a small town called Jefferson in the early 20th century where as ‘Everyday Use’ was taken place on a pasture during the mid 20th century.
The ‘Rose for Emily’ mainly took place on the same site, but however throughout the story the site would change as time passed. The exact time it took place around is never really said in the story, but we can get to this conclusion based on the language and little context clues we get in the stories like for example how they derogatorily call dark skinned people or African Americans “Negros”. Knowing the time and place in which the story is happening gives us other information, in this case having in mind that they lived in the south during those years, there were certain distinctive culture aspects like the first being that everyone had their place in society in addition to that, we know that even after the civil war there were serious cases of racism and sexism happening there. In addition to this, there were many and judgmental and strict social guidelines that were supposed to be followed by women.
In A Rose for Emily the author uses the protagonist, Miss Emily to symbolize the old south aristocracy. Like her farther she is proud. She possesses a duty and doesn’t accept to many favors. When Emily’s father died, the mayor, Colonel Sartoris protected Emily by remitting her taxes. when the board of Alderman went to talk to her about her taxes, she ignored their request and pushed them to leave. It was her stature of superiority along with pride that made her turn others away. Her pride kept her from paying taxes since, Colonel Sartoris said it was the town’s way of repaying her father. The mayor even created a lie so Emily would not feel ashamed for accepting charity. The whole town expected for Emily Grierson to marry, but when she was still single at thirty the town pitied her.
Another example from Everyday Use is Maggie’s impending marriage to John Thomas. Even though John Thomas has “mossy teeth”, since Maggie is scarred with burns this marriage is considered lucky. Another aspect of the Deep South that affects and has big relevance because of the setting is the distrust of outsiders. After the Reconstruction era, Southerners, white and black, distrusted outsiders. White Southerners distrusted outsiders because of the war that destroyed their way of life, while African Americans distrusted outsiders because their ways. “Whites” had treated African Americans poorly in the South, this made African Americans distrust white people and vice versa. Faulkner and Walker both show the facet of distrust against outsiders. In A Rose for Emily, when Emily was seen taking rides with a Yankee foreman, the town thought it was scandalous; a preacher even went to speak to her about the impropriety. Alice Walker’s Everyday Use the mother distrusted Wagner’s boyfriend. She even distrusted him more when he said, “farming and raising cattle is not my style”. The Deep South culture was the tension between the races. Everyday Use showed this aspect when the mother remembered white men poisoning the wells of neighbors.
Faulkner showed this by the “negro” working for Emily not trusting white neighbors with Emily’s secrets. In these stories there is a lot of symbolism like in ‘A Rose for Emily’ by William Faulkner, Emily’s mansion is a big thing in the story “Emily’s house, like Emily herself, is a monument, the only remaining emblem of a dying world of Southern aristocracy. The outside of the large, square frame house is lavishly decorated. The cupolas, spires, and scrolled balconies are the hallmarks of a decadent style of architecture that became popular in the 1870s. By the time the story takes place, much has changed. The street and neighborhood, at one time affluent, pristine, and privileged, have lost their standing as the realm of the elite. The house is in some ways an extension of Emily: it bares its “stubborn and coquettish decay” to the town’s residents. It is a testament to the endurance and preservation of tradition but now seems out of place among the cotton wagons, gasoline pumps, and other industrial trappings that surround it—just as the South’s old values are out of place in a changing society.
Emily’s house also represents alienation, mental illness, and death. It is a shrine to the living past, and the sealed upstairs bedroom is her macabre trophy room where she preserves the man, she would not allow to leave her. As when the group of men sprinkled lime along the foundation to counteract the stench of rotting flesh, the townspeople skulk along the edges of Emily’s life and property. The house, like its owner, is an object of fascination for them. They project their own lurid fantasies and interpretations onto the crumbling edifice and mysterious figure inside. Emily’s death is a chance for them to gain access to this forbidden realm and confirm their wildest notions and most sensationalistic suppositions about what had occurred on the inside.” (Barnes and Noble) According to this, the house was more than just a house it represented Emily in many ways as of her mental health, how the house with the years got more and more deteriorated and with the person in charge of keeping it how it was before not really doing anything for it, how loneliness and everything she went through with the death of her Father as well as him not allowing her to get married or even be close to a man adjudicating her to a life of loneliness and not having a mom affected her was reflected in the house as the years went by, these things became stronger and the house got more and more deteriorated.
In ‘Everyday Use’ by Alice Walker we can witness a lot of symbolism too here with a different and maybe a less significant item as how the sisters fight for the quilts ““Everyday Use” focuses on the bonds between women of different generations and their enduring legacy, as symbolized in the quilts they fashion together. This connection between generations is strong, yet Dee’s arrival and lack of understanding of her history shows that those bonds are vulnerable as well. The relationship between Aunt Dicie and Mama, the experienced seamstresses who made the quilts, is very different from the relationship between Maggie and Dee, sisters who share barely a word and have almost nothing in common.
Just as Dee cannot understand the legacy of her name, passed along through four generations, she does not understand the significance of the quilts, which contain swatches of clothes once worn or owned by at least a century’s worth of ancestors. The quilts are pieces of living history, documents in fabric that chronicle the lives of the various generations and the trials, such as war and poverty, that they faced. The quilts serve as a testament to a family’s history of pride and struggle. With the limitations that poverty and lack of education placed on her life, Mama considers her personal history one of her few treasures. Her house contains the handicrafts of her extended family. Instead of receiving a financial inheritance from her ancestors, Mama has been given the quilts. For her, these objects have a value that Dee, despite professing her desire to care for and preserve the quilts, is unable to fathom.” (Barnes and Nobles)
Based on this it can be concluded that these quilts really meant something they were a very valuable treasure with an actual non-monetary value but a sentimental one, they represent heritage. And the “perfect” sister Dee wants them even though her sister Maggie had asked for them before but she argues that she won’t appreciate them giving her sister underestimating her sister and her abilities, it could be said that she sees herself as a superior human being than her sister because she has achieved other things in life while her sister is still home with their mom taking care of the house and focusing on other things. Dee’s mom even says that life has never learned how to say ‘no’ to Dee implying that what she’s achieved, she didn’t really have to work that hard in order to get them.