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Comparison – Contrast: A Rose for Emily/ Everything That Rises Must Converge

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Comparison – Contrast: A Rose for Emily/ Everything That Rises Must Converge


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            Understanding literature is based on understanding its plot, themes, and characters. The works of fiction are sometimes too different at first glance, but display similarity when compared. Despite the fact that the two stories which will be analyzed in this paper have absolutely different plots, they convey similar ideas and are centered on similar themes. Thesis statement: within the framework of different plots the stories display a common thread of isolation theme, but are opposite in the dynamism of action.

            A Rose for Emily by William Faulkner and Everything That Rises Must Converge by Flannery O’Connor have different plots. However, Kirszner & Mandell refer to the fact that plot has to do with the way in which a story’s events are arranged and not “merely with what happens.” (189). It is difficult to deny that the events in both stories take place in different environments. Emily Grierson was described living in her isolated house with no one but “the Negro man – a young man then”, who was her servant (Kirszner & Mandell 207).

Julian’s mother lived with her son, – the man who wanted to become a writer but did nothing to earn his living. “Were it not that she was a widow who had struggled fiercely to feed and clothe and put him through school and who was supporting him still, ‘until he got on his feet’” (Kirszner & Mandell 611). Definitely, the plots are different, because the events in the discussed stories are arranged in a different manner. O’Connor was more open with her readers and did not finish the story with any unexpected outcomes, similar to those in Faulkner’s story.

The similar theme, where the isolation of protagonist is opposed to his presence in the community can be found in both stories. The fantasies in which both Emily and Julian’s mother live are referred to their past, with the underlying desire to return to those events and not to accept the changing reality. “You remain who you are” states Julian’s mother, speaking about the brightest events of her youth, which she viewed as the best time of her life (Kirszner & Mandell 612). In her turn, Emily completely rejected even the idea of being obliged to pay taxes. She sent the Deputation away with the words “Perhaps he considers himself the sheriff… I have no taxes in Jefferson” (Kirszner & Mandell 206). Emily and Julian’s mother are isolated (or try to remain isolated) from the rest of the changing society by rejecting even a possibility of the objective changes which have already taken place in their communities: the tax-free existence for Emily has gone together with the death of her father, but she is reluctant to admit it; the good times of slavery and owing plantations for Julian’s mother have also remained in the past but she keeps finding herself in that imaginary world: “I remember going to Grandpa’s when I was a little girl. Then the house had double stairways that went up to what was really the second floor – all the cooking was done on the first” (Kirszner & Mandell 613).

            The two women are isolated from the rest of the society, and the society seems reluctant to accept them with their fantasies and false ideas about the time in which they now live. However, while both authors wanted to convey similar themes, they have arranged the events in their stories in completely different ways. The line of events in A Rose for Emily is too monotonous from the very beginning. Faulkner probably wished to reveal the biggest Emily’s secret at the end of the story: “Upon a chair hung the suit, carefully folded; beneath it the two mute shoes and the discarded socks. The man himself lay in the bed” (Kirszner & Mandell 212). The outcome of the story is so unexpected that the reader risks misunderstanding it through the first reading: probably a second reading will be necessary to make sure the author has really meant a man’s body in Emily’s room.

            In contrast, the outcome of O’Connor’s story is at least anticipated. The fact of her being rejected by the new equal and non-racist society is supported by the conflict with a black woman and her son. “All at once she seemed to explode like a piece of machinery that had been given one ounce of pressure too much. Julian saw the black fist swing out with the red pocketbook” (Kirszner & Mandell 620). O’Connor was preparing the reader to this or any other similar outcome with all means possible, starting from the description of the black woman “She was a giant of a woman. Her face was set not only to meet opposition but to seek it out” (Kirszner & Mandell 617), and finishing with the precautions which Julian tried to make in order to prevent the incident. The essence of the Faulkner’s story is in its end; the essence of O’Connor’s story is its narration from the very beginning, where she depicts every detail about both Julian and his mother, making the reader profoundly understand their relations. Everything That Rises Must Converge is a dynamic description of complicated mother-son relations in the new social conditions; A Rose for Emily is a rather even and calm narration of human position towards the rest of society. Even in the light of these differences it is impossible not to notice how isolated all characters are. Julian did not do anything to keep his mother alive and to keep her with him; in contrast, Emily did an impossible thing to keep her man to herself. Both have breached the norms of morality, but have not achieved the desired results – being happy.


            The life of a person in changing social conditions is difficult. The happiness of such person depends on his (her) position towards this society and the acceptance or rejection of the new norms. Simultaneously, personal ties and relations play significant role determining/ changing this position. Everything That Rises Must Converge and A Rose for Emily are the two different plots, which convey similar ideas; they are different in their dynamism but refer to the same idea of unchangeable human isolation. Interestingly, but the stories seem to supplement each other, with their full potential being revealed when they are compared and contrasted.

Works cited

Kirszner, L.G. & Mandell, S.R. Literature: Reading, Reacting, Writing Compact. Sixth

edition. Heinle, 2006.

Cite this Comparison – Contrast: A Rose for Emily/ Everything That Rises Must Converge

Comparison – Contrast: A Rose for Emily/ Everything That Rises Must Converge. (2016, Sep 04). Retrieved from https://graduateway.com/comparison-contrast-a-rose-for-emily-everything-that-rises-must-converge/

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