Faulkner Versus Hemingway

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Compare and contrast William Faulkner and Ernest Hemingway with respect to “A rose for Emily” and ” the Snows of Kilimanjaro”

The Modernist Period in English Literature is delineated and exemplified by the works of William Faulkner and Ernest Hemingway. This age followed from the aesthetic and culture of the Victorian era with its origin characterized as an instinctive reaction to that particular period in American literature. The Modernist Period stretched through the twentieth century. Typically, the writers in this age took up experimentation and individualism as intrinsic features of their works. There was an abrupt discontinuity from the formerly acknowledged perspective. The Modernist mindset was initiated by a series of cultural shocks facilitated by the World Wars and the subsequent Cold War. Characteristically, William Faulkner and Ernest Hemingway have the attributes of the modernist writers in the sense that their works are fragmentary, have no real solutions, and portray the vanity of existence (The Adventures of a 20 Something Writer, 2013). This paper compares the two writers with respect to “A Rose for Emily” and “The Snows of Kilimanjaro”.

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The story ‘A Rose for Emily’ is a bibliography of a character known as Emily Grierson. The narrative begins on a solemn note arising from her death and follows up to tell of her convictions in life through the ardent flashbacks of an unknown narrator. The demise of Emily’s father appears to have struck the wrong strings in her life since she is distraught by her father’s passing. She refuses to accept that her father has died and does now want him covered (Faulkner, 1983). Death is also a pertinent theme in the story ‘Snows of Kilimanjaro’ by Ernest Hemingway, with is most obtrusive inference being presented at the beginning of the story in a similar fashion. The protagonist is injured, and with little time left before his demise, his whole life flashes before him (Death in Ernest Hemingway’s short story ‘The Snows of Kilimanjaro’, 2007).

Notably, we take note of the fact that the main stories are built upon the flashbacks of the main characters. In ‘A Rose for Emily’ the story is narrated through flashbacks to points in her life that highlighted her core beliefs and convictions. Similarly, Ernest Hemingway presents his story as an inflection of a dying man who regrets his past and lack of achievements. Both stories highlight the influence of the protagonists’ suitors on their lives. We can see that Emily was affected deeply by her husband’s death. In spite of the fact that she went on to re-marry and conceived four more children, her life decisions were made with much consideration of her beloved husband. Again, we take note that Harry in ‘Snows from Kilimanjaro’ reflects on his life with many references to his wife and how his life would have been different had he not married her.

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Besides the use of flashback, there are points of relative contrast between the styles applied by the two writers. In the subsequent sections, the paper compares the writers based on their creative use of stylistic devices such as personification, onomatopoeia, rhythm, metaphors, hyperbole, antithesis, paradox, oxymoron, understatements, euphemism, synecdoche, and irony.

Faulkner personifies the Old South in this morbid tale of Emily. The fact that Emily is perceptibly the symbol of the town and has employed a negro illustrates the Southern states at the time. Emily’s house is personified in the description that it was an eyesore ‘lifting its stubborn and coquettish decay’ above the town (Faulkner, p. 243). The writer applies onomatopoeia as such ‘This behind their hands; rustling of craned silk and satin behind jalousies closed upon the sun of Sunday afternoon as the thin, swift clop-clop-clop of the matched team passed’ (Faulkner, p. 246).

There are extensive metaphorical references throughout the story ‘A Rose for Emily’. The first of which, is the depiction of her house as an ‘eyesore among eyesores’ that raises its persistent rot over the urbanized town (Faulkner, p. 243). The members of the town remained incredulous with regards to Emily owing to the fact that the development of the town was not reflected in her house that remained modest throughout the years. When the governing board went over to cancel the taxes she owed, her house smelt of ‘disuse and dust’ (Faulkner, p. 244). They describe it as a ‘close dank smell’. The leather furniture also appeared to be cracked (Faulkner, p. 244). Additionally, the author refers to Emily as a ‘fallen monument’. The statement alludes to her long stay within the community as a permanent resident who was previously revered but has attracted a lot of scorn from the public recently. The author also uses a military connotation when she descibes the struggle between Emily and the town officials when they try to tax her. He says ‘she vanquished them horse and foot’. However, this is unlikely since she did not literally go to war with them (Faulkner, p. 244).

The story ‘A Rose for Emily’ also makes use of similes in several instances. A perfect example of the use of similes is when the author describes Emily’s body: ‘she looked bloated, like a body long submerged in motionless water’ (Faulkner, p. 243). In another instance, he stresses the darkness in her eyes in the statement ‘her eyes looked like two small pieces of coal pressed into a lump of dough’ (Faulkner, p. 244). We can also take note of the use of oxymorons. A perfect example is during the description of Emily’s house whhc had balconies that were designed in the ‘heavily lightsome’ style of the seventies (Faulkner, p. 243). The author also depicts Emily’s character paradoxically as both strong and weak. Her strength is illustrated by her resolve not to pay taxes. She is weak in the sense that she is unable to handle the loss of her husband (Cummings, 2010).

Ernest Hemingway also makes metaphorical references in his story. The most apparent one is the analogy of the infected leg and his career as a writer. In the haitus that follows the initial narrative, the storyteller presents the audience with the world of the protagonist as, “Since the gangrene started in his right leg he had no pain and with the pain the horror had gone and all he felt now was a great tiredness and anger that this was the end of it. (Hemingway, 2014)” The infection is traumatizing in the sense that it inspires the emptiness that he feels with regard to his career. In a way, the infection of the leg depicts the mental state of Harry facilitated by the domesticating impact of Helen and her wealth. To put it simply, the gangrenous infection represents the diminissing of his career as a result of the long time he spent living rather than in pursuit of his talent. There is also the use of metaphor in the instance when he claims that his wife’s wealth was his sword and armour (REVISED: A CLOSE ANALYSIS OF “THE SNOWS OF KILIMANJARO”, 2014).

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Besides the use of metaphor, Hemingway incorporates understatements in his writing of the story. Harry subtly underplays his dire state by making reckless statements such as asking for a whisky in lieu of the broth he had been offere. To stress on this theme of underlaying the direness of his state, he displays a paradoxical attitude towards his wife. In a bid to present the bitter truth of the situation to his wife, hat he will eventually die, he makes insensitive statements to his wife. In a sharp contrast, he reassures his wife that he loves her (Hemingway, 2014). There is also the use of similes. A perfect example is the point where he describes the snow on Mt. Kilimanjaro by stating it was as smooth to see as cake frosting and as light as powder’ (Hemingway, 2014).

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  1. Cummings, M. J. (2010). A Rose for Emily. Retrieved from Cummings Study Guide: https://www.cummingsstudyguides.net/Guides5/Rosefor.html
  2. Death in Ernest Hemingway’s short story ‘The Snows of Kilimanjaro’. (2007). Retrieved from Grin: http://www.grin.com/en/e-book/83463/death-in-ernest-hemingway-s-short-story-the-snows-of-kilimanjaro
  3. Faulkner, W. (1983). A Rose for Emily. Dramatic Publishing.
  4. Hemingway, E. (2014). Snows of Kilimanjaro and Other Stories. Simon and Schuster.
  5. REVISED: A CLOSE ANALYSIS OF “THE SNOWS OF KILIMANJARO”. (2014, April 2). Retrieved from Modern American Authors: http://www.ericrettberg.com/modernamericanauthors/?p=590
  6. The Adventures of a 20 Something Writer. (2013, March 17). Retrieved from WordPress: https://rjsunshine.wordpress.com/2013/03/17/the-modernists-t-s-eliot-william-faulkner-ernest-hemingway/
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