Home Identity and Privilege: The Tale of Two Stories It is said that your home is a reflection of you. When you walk into someone’s home, you should get a sense of who they are as people. The decor, the smell, the cleanliness, down to the choice of linen fixtures, and appliances could give insight to a persons past and present. Meanwhile, how those things are used may give insight into their future. In the short stories “ A Rose for Emily by William Faulkner” and “ Everyday Use by Alice Walker,” this concept is displayed with its main characters respectfully.
While, the homes give the main characters their identity, or lack their of, the sense of entitlement and privilege only deepens their connection to the their houses. In “A Rose for Emily,” the main character Miss Emily Grierson, a sheltered daughter born into a well respected, well off family dies leaving behind a home that is window into her life’s past. Like her home Miss Emily grace and appearance fell with time. Once a beautiful, clean, and well kept property through the years the place began to decay become an “eyesore of eyesore. As her life progressed, who was once a beautiful, promising, yet sheltered envy of the town, slowly became just the neighborhood obligation and nuisance. What connected her to that house was her privileged life and sense of entitlement that showed when she refused to pay her taxes. Not only does she connect with her home through privilege but through the experiences she had in that home. Due to her life on the high end, her fathered sheltered her from finding love. So when he died and she found just that, she longed to keep it in the home.
She also brought things into the house that reflected her lifestyle like the embossed toilets. Everything that went in the house or came out (like the smell) reflected her past or present disposition. When she died, the people came not to see her but to see her house which was a reflection of her. What she left behind was a expression of her wished for future. In “Everyday Use,” the house is definitely a prototype of the main characters and an insight to their past or perceived past, present, and hoped for future.
This story is made up of three characters, a mother and her two daughters. Set in the time of sharecroppers, the home reflected the run down yet humble appearance of the mom and daughter Maggie. The home also reflects what Dee (Wangero), the other daughter, is so ashamed of, and the root of her delusional concept of heritage. The sisters, who are so different, reflect exactly what their home identity perception by how they choose to use the very things that are in the home.
Maggie, literally and figuratively wears her home identity. When their first home burned, she burned also, which left scars visibly seen. Her demeanor reflects the humble settings, and her lowly nature reflects the home’s run-over appearance. The way she used the things her sister perceived as heritage, as what it was meant for represented the reality of life for Maggie and her mom. Meanwhile, Wangero wore her home identity differently. Beautiful and privileged to be sent away to school, Wangero, was ashamed of her humble home.
She may not have burned physically, but she carried the weight of such lowly living conditions, that she burned internally a desire to leave. She despised her connection to her home, so much so, that she refused to identify with anything concerning it. Those things that she did identify with she assigned new meanings to them, disregarding her sister and mom’s feelings and need for survival. Because she was so- called educated, and sometimes envied by mom and sister, she grew a sense of entitlement, displayed in the items she wanted to take.
Her connection to that house is why she desires a new future. To two very different sisters, that house represents past, present, and future’s reality for one and future’s fantasy for the other. In both stories there are so many examples of how the homes reflect the characters and give so much insight to their developed reasoning and behaviors. A home can be a true reflection of a person and with these stories, a house may and may not have been a home, it may or may not have been a perceived symbol of pride and heritage, but they surely were true, insightful, reflective images of the characters.