Short Story Paper Assignment
Short Story Critical Analysis Paper
This paper is like any argument or illustration/exemplification essay you learned to write in College Composition I and II. You state a point in your introductory paragraph, and then you prove it with specific examples from the story and the critical articles I uploaded to our class MODULES webpage about the story. You are required to use at least one of the critical articles/interviews I uploaded to MODULES and cite it using MLA format throughout the body of the paper. You will use the critical articles to support your analysis, and you may also use discussion posts in your paper. However, you are not permitted to use any other sources at all (nothing from the Internet, etc.).
Paper length: 3-4 pages, typed, double-spaced.Follow MLA documentation guidelines when you use sources (see chapters 6 and 7 for MLA documentation).Standard college essay format: Introduction, thesis, body paragraphs, conclusion.
First read a symbol-theme analysis model student paper on pages 194-195 about “The Secret Lion.” This is the type of paper I’m looking for (with the addition of using critical articles). Then read pages 21-33 about how to write a literary analysis. Your paper should follow the same physical format as the “Secret Lion” symbol analysis paper in your book (with the addition of using and citing at least one of the critical articles about your story).
Topic: Analyze how symbols reveal the story’s theme in one of the following short stories: “Gryphon,” “A Rose for Emily,” “Greasy Lake,” “Everyday Use,” or “Doe Season.” Only papers about these stories will be accepted and graded.
1. Audience: your professor who is fully knowledgeable of the story–no need to retell it). See page 20 in our book.
2. Purpose: to write a critical symbol analysis of one story and determine how the symbols reveal the theme of that story.
3. Topic: Analyze how symbols reveal the story’s theme in one of the following short stories: “Gryphon,” “A Rose for Emily,” “Greasy Lake,” “Everyday Use,” or “Doe Season.” Only papers about these stories will be accepted and graded.
Upload paper in ASSIGNMENTS by the due date and time! All late papers lose 20 points and will not be accepted after one week past the due date. Remember–no sources allowed except the ones I uploaded to MODULES, and you are REQUIRED to use at least one of those articles throughout the body of your paper.
Use the Short Story Paper Rubric as a final checklist to ensure you have followed the assignment correctly.
Finally, after you have followed these instructions, or at any time of the paper writing process, please don’t hesitate to email me with questions or for help. That’s what I’m here for. 🙂
THESE ARE THE ARTICLES
“A Rose for Emily” Two articles
How to cite in your paper (Madden).
How to cite on your Works Cited Page: Madden, David. “A Rose for Emily.” Masterplots II: Short Story Series, 2004. The Literary Reference Center. EBSCOhost. Web. 28 June 2007.
Miss Emily’s story is certainly bizarre, suspenseful, and mysterious enough to engage the reader’s attention fully. She is a grotesque, southern gothic character whose neurotic or psychotic behavior in her relationships with her father, her lover, and her black servant may elicit many Freudian interpretations. For example, her affair with Homer Barron may be seen as a middle-aged woman’s belated rebellion against her repressive father and against the town’s burdensome expectations. That William Faulkner intended her story to have a much larger dimension is suggested by his choice of an unnamed citizen of Jefferson to tell it.
The narrator never speaks or writes as an individual, never uses the pronoun I, always speaks as we. As representative of the townspeople, the narrator feels a compulsion to tell the story of a woman who represents something important to the community. Black voices are excluded from this collective voice as it speaks out of old and new generations. Colonel Sartoris’s antebellum generation is succeeded by one with modern ideas: Thus, she passed from generation to generation.
Even though Miss Emily was a child during the Civil War, she represents to generations past and present the old Deep South of the Delta cotton-plantation aristocracy. She is a visible holdover into the modern South of a bygone era of romance, chivalry, and the Lost Cause. Even this new South, striving for a prosperity based on Northern technology, cannot fully accept the decay of antebellum culture and ideals. Early, the narrator invokes such concepts as tradition, duty, hereditary obligation, and custom, suggesting a perpetuation in the community consciousness of those old values. The community’s sense of time is predominantly chronological, but it is also like Emily’s, the confused, psychological time sense of memory. Like many women of the defeated upper class in the Deep South, Miss Emily withdraws from the chronological time of reality into the timelessness of illusion.
Miss Emily is then symbolic of the religion of “southernness” that survived military defeat and material destruction. The children of Colonel Sartoris’s generation are sent to learn china-painting from Miss Emily in the same spirit that they were sent to church. It is because we see her as resembling those angels in colored church windows that her affair with a Yankee makes her a bad example to the young people.
Given the fact that the Yankee colonel who made the deepest raid into Rebel territory was named Grierson, Faulkner may have intended Emily’s family name to be ironic. The insanity of clinging to exposed illusions is suggested by the fact that Miss Emily’s great-aunt went crazy and that Miss Emily later appears crazy to the townspeople. Ironically, even within aristocratic families there is division; her father fell out with Alabama kinsmen over the great-aunt’s estate.
Immediately after the narrator refers to Miss Emily as being like an idol and to her great-aunt as crazy, Faulkner presents this image, symbolic of the aristocracy: We had long thought of them as a tableau, Miss Emily a slender figure in white in the background, her father a spraddled silhouette in the foreground, his back to her and clutching a horsewhip, the two of them framed by the back-flung front door. Her father’s rejection of her suitors is like the defeated aristocracy’s rejection of new methods of creating a future. Emily’s refusal to accept the fact of her father’s death suggests the refusal of some aristocrats to accept the death of the South even when faced with the evidence of its corpse. Perversely, She would have to cling to that which had robbed her, as people will. However, the modern generations insist on burying the decaying corpse of the past.
Miss Emily preserves all the dead, in memory if not literally. See Colonel Sartoris, she tells the new town fathers, as if he were alive. The townspeople are like Miss Emily in that they persist in preserving her dignity as the last representative of the Old South (her death ends the Grierson line); after she is dead, the narrator preserves her in this story. The rose is a symbol of the age of romance in which the aristocracy were obsessed with delusions of grandeur, pure women being a symbol of the ideal in every phase of life. Perhaps the narrator offers this story as a rose for Emily. As a lady might press a rose between the pages of a history of the South, she keeps her own personal rose, her lover, preserved in the bridal chamber where a rose color pervades everything. Miss Emily’s rose is ironically symbolic because her lover was a modern Yankee, whose laughter drew the townspeople to him and whose corpse has grinned profoundly for forty years, as if he, or Miss Emily, had played a joke on all of them.
How to cite in your paper (Schwab).
How to cite on your Works Cited Page: Schwab, Milinda. “A Rose for Emily.” Studies in Short Fiction; Spring 91, Vol. 28, Issue 2: 215. The Literary Reference Center. EBSCOhost. Web. 28 June 2007.
Even the casual reader of William Faulkner (if there can be such a person) will recognize the element of time as a crucial one in much of the writer’s work, and the critical attention given to the subject of time in Faulkner most certainly fills as many pages as the longest novel of Yoknapatawpha County. A goodly number of those pages of criticism deal with the well-known short story, “A Rose for Emily.” Several scholars, most notably Paul McGlynn, have worked to untangle the confusing chronology of this work (461-62). Others have given a variety of symbolic and psychological reasons for Emily Grierson’s inability (or refusal) to acknowledge the passage of time. Yet in all of this careful literary analysis, no one has discussed one troubling and therefore highly significant detail. When we first meet Miss Emily, she carries in a pocket somewhere within her clothing an “invisible watch ticking at the end of [a] gold chain” (Faulkner 121). What would a woman like Emily Grierson, who seems to us fixed in the past and oblivious to any passing of time, need with a watch? An awareness of the significance of this watch, however, is crucial for a clear understanding of Miss Emily herself. The watch’s placement in her pocket, its unusually loud ticking, and the chain to which it is attached illustrate both her attempts to control the passage of the years and the consequences of such an ultimately futile effort.
The idiom of having something or someone “in one’s pocket,” that is, under one’s personal control, is important here, for by wearing the watch in her pocket rather than, say, pinned to her bodice, Emily demonstrates her effort to subjugate the clock to her own will. In staring down the aldermen who have come about the taxes, and, in effect, obliterating the events of several decades, she has, to her way of thinking, taken control of time. She resists change because for her change will always involve loss. She must prevent time from passing if she is to hold on to what matters to her. Her desire to keep her life from changing is further evidenced by her reluctance to have her father’s body removed and buried and by her refusal to allow street numbers to be attached to the door of her beloved family home.
The extreme example of her need to control change, to keep time “in her pocket,” is her poisoning Homer and placing him carefully in the upstairs room. The townspeople have joined forces with the representatives of her own family and are on the verge of separating her from him, just as earlier they separated her from her father. Homer alive and active in her life has become too serious an affront to those around her. The only way she can keep him with her is to arrest his activity and to suspend his vitality. As a corpse, this Yankee outsider will be less offensive to the sensibilities of the closed Southern community. (Evidence exists of the town’s complicity in Homer’s murder. Their knowledge of Emily’s purchase of the arsenic, followed by Homer Barron’s disappearance and the subsequent odor surrounding the Grierson house indicate at least some level of community awareness of what had happened.) More important for Emily, however, Homer will now stay fixed as a part of her life forever.
The consequence of Emily’s attempt to keep things from changing is that time for her loses its “mathematical progression” (129) and becomes static and repetitive. By putting the watch in her pocket, Emily removes from sight that which makes one conscious of time’s passing, namely the movement of the hands around the face of the clock. In this action she has a counterpart in Quentin Compson in Faulkner’s The Sound and the Fury, which was published within a few months of “A Rose for Emily.” Like Emily, Quentin is destroyed by his inability to break free from the oppressive, arbitrary, antiquated values of a decaying gentility. On the day of his death we see Quentin tear the hands off his watch in a symbolic, and, of course, futile attempt to keep time from moving forward. With Emily’s watch out of sight, what remains is the incessant ticking, loud enough even for the visiting aldermen to hear during the awkward silences of the interview. Added to the monotonous tick of the watch, we hear another repetition–Emily’s dry, cold voice declaring over and, over, “I have no taxes in Jefferson . . . I have no taxes in Jefferson” (1, 21). Time for Emily does not move forward; it merely drones on in endless repetition, like the absurdly loud tick, tick, tick of her invisible watch.
Emily’s attempt to halt the movement of time, like any such attempt, is doomed to failure, and the thin gold chain attached to Emily’s watch show just how completely she is “chained” to precisely that which she thinks she has controlled. The other gold items mentioned in this scene–the gilt frame holding the portrait of Emily’s father and the gold head of the ebony cane on which she leans–are both “tarnished,” both relics of the past. The watch chain, significantly, is not. An object of the present, it connects Emily to the watch, constantly reminding her of the passage of time. The slim, young Emily of an earlier time has not aged gracefully into an aristocratic matron, but has become unnaturally obese, bloated, and doughy, “like a body long submerged in motionless water” (121). The passage of time halts, of course, only in death, and thus Emily, who has worked so hard to stop time, appears here as a kind of living corpse.
The structure itself of the story underscores the stagnant, repetitive nature of Emily Grierson’s existence. Faulkner introduces the watch at the same time he introduces us to Emily herself at the end of part one, thereby establishing the metaphor early in the narrative. Within the timeline of the story, however, the scene occurs late in Emily’s life, perhaps fifteen or twenty years after Homer Barron’s murder. This rearrangement of the sequence of events reinforces the imagery of the watch that ticks repeatedly but does not move forward, for what is new to us, we soon learn, is not new to Miss Emily. Repeatedly, she has attempted to control time, to fix people and events in the past, and the structure of the story mirrors this. Also, since the story begins and ends, more or less, with Emily’s funeral (the events of her life being presented to us in a series of flashbacks), very little actual time passes in the course of the narrative. By telling her story after her death, Faulkner shows that, in the only way possible, time now stands still for her. Thus this one small detail, the hidden yet constantly ticking watch, becomes a symbol for the horror and futility that are Emily Grierson.