Sunday, September 21, 2008

Re: The Unknown

In many ways, I agree with Sam Starbuck’s analysis of “A Rose for Emily” – one’s initial reaction to the level of gossip in Faulkner’s story is ‘this never happens where I’m from.’ After more careful introspection, however, one see’s ‘gossip’ all around, invading many facets of life – we just don’t call it ‘gossip.’ This weekend was a big party weekend on campus – today (Sunday) I heard many second hand ‘stories’ about the actions of other students. On first glance, we wouldn’t call this ‘gossip’ – this is just a recount of what went on the night before. As you reconstruct how the story was laid out for you by an individual who did not directly experience the story but saw it/heard it from another individual, you see portions of the story where embellishments and sensationalizing what actually happened most likely occurred. Adding to it the storytellers personal speculation as to what happened after the event, you have gossip.

Nevertheless I disagree with Sam’s analysis about the validity of the gossip in the story. I think the information about Miss Emily, which is by definition gossip, is true. Faulkner wrote this story as a snapshot of a small Southern town – replete with its old aristocracy, ambiguous governmental policies, a powerful religious leader and gossip. All parts of the information provided vindicated each of these small town stereotypes. The preacher (who isn’t even of the same Protestant denomination as Miss Emily) takes it upon himself to visit her in her home; his wife writes letters to Miss Emily’s family. The old mayor creatively creates a tax exemption for Miss Emily. With the truth of these stereotypes and the revelation of Miss Emily’s necrophilia, one can easily believe that the rest of the information in “A Rose for Emily” is true. As I have stated before, the strange drama that was Miss Emily’s life would be the greatest story that could happen to a small town.

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