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William Faulkner Critical Essays

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What artistic talent does Miss Emily possess in “A Rose for Emily”?
William Faulkner
Introduction

However, some of his novels' narrative techniques are also present in the stories and include extended descriptions and details, actions in one scene that then recall a past or future scene, and complex sentence structure.

What is important to remember is that Faulkner always has a purpose in choosing which different stylistic technique to use at which point in his stories: The narrative devices mirror the psychological complexity of the short stories' characters and settings.

One of the most effective ways Faulkner establishes depth of character and scene is by using long lists of descriptions. Oftentimes, a description of an object will be followed by a description of a character: In this way, the object and character, because they have been similarly described, take on the appearance of each other. Her skeleton is "small and spare" — "lightsome" — yet, because of her slight figure, "what would have been merely plumpness in another was obesity in her" — "heavily lightsome.

Both are now dead — she literally, the house figuratively — but even in their deaths they are described as physically similar: The house is "filled with dust and shadows," and she dies with "her gray head propped on a pillow yellow and moldy with age and lack of sunlight. Another example of Faulkner's using extended descriptions is in "That Evening Sun," in which the first two paragraphs describe the town of Jefferson in the present and in the past.

The first paragraph, one long sentence, portrays the town's present condition: The streets are paved, there is electricity, and black women still wash white people's laundry, but now they transport themselves and the laundry in automobiles. The second paragraph, like the first, is one complete sentence, but it portrays Jefferson's past: The shade trees, which in the present have been cut down to make room for electrical poles, still stand, and the black women who wash for white people carry the laundry in bundles on their heads, not in automobiles.

By juxtaposing these two paragraphs, with their lengthy descriptions of Jefferson, Faulkner establishes one of the major themes found throughout all of his short stories, the difference between the present and the past, and how that difference affects people in dissimilar ways.

We are reminded of section V in "A Rose for Emily," in which that section's second paragraph, composed of a short sentence and then a very lengthy one, describes how old-timers, "confusing time with its mathematical progression," psychologically still live in the past even though a "narrow bottle-neck of the most recent decade of years" separates them from it.

Indeed, Faulkner's story offers a concentrated exploration of themes that recur throughout his writings, including questions about proprietary rights to the land, the cultural implications of miscegenation, incest, and maltreatment of African Americans, and the moral problems associated with pride, humility, and guilt.

A principal theme of "The Bear" concerns Ike's attitude toward the land. On one level, Ike shares the Native American view that the land belongs to no one but instead exists for communal use—a lesson Sam teaches him. Ike also sincerely believes that the land itself has been cursed by slavery, especially when he learns that his grandfather impregnated one of his slaves and then sexually abused their daughter, driving the mother to suicide.

For Ike, the only way to escape the curse—and the guilt that he sees as his heritage—is to relinquish the land bequeathed to him by his grandfather. Ike's decision illuminates the development of his moral character, which, for some critics, integrates the themes of the fourth section with narrative elements of the hunting story; in other words, Ike's ritualistic initiation into the mythic world of nature by his participation in the hunt mirrors his coming-of-age into society via his discovery of the truth about his heritage.

In addition, Ike's predilection for nature and his alarm at its progressive ruin by humans symbolically corresponds with the connection between Sam and Old Ben and the deaths of the animals, who embody the spirit of the wilderness.

The thematic patterns of "The Bear" extend beyond the hunting narrative to implicate multiple tensions that have defined American life, including the conflicts between the wilderness and civilization, Native American ethics and European exploitation, freedom and slavery, pagan values and Christian duties, innocence and knowledge of sin.

Opinion about the meaning of Ike's renunciation of his inheritance has diverged widely. Many critics have considered Ike's stance heroic, even Christlike, and consequently attribute value to the patient suffering exemplified by Ike; they have argued that his decision represents a noble sacrifice and serves as a means of expiation for his ancestors' guilt. Other commentators, however, have pointed out that later in Go Down, Moses it is made known that the proprietary rights to the family plantation were not relinquished but merely transferred to Ike's cousin, Cass.

Some contend that Ike's later acceptance of a monthly stipend from his cousin's plantation consequently negates his original intention. Therefore, Ike's repudiation and his subsequent behavior signify a weak moral character and an escape from his social responsibilities.

Another significant area of critical contention surrounds the unusual fourth section, which seems to interrupt an otherwise unified hunting tale.

Some scholars have claimed that this part illuminates Ike's moral development—a central theme of "The Bear"—and contains important analogies to thematic concerns in the rest of the story. To other critics, however, the fourth section unnecessarily destroys narrative unity, especially if "The Bear" is judged as an independent story isolated from the context of Go Down, Moses.

Despite the lack of consensus, commentators generally admire the complexity and emotionally moving style of this passage, conceding that its presence in "The Bear" largely accounts for the prominent place that the story assumes in Faulkner's Yoknapatawpha cycle.

William Faulkner's power derives in large part from his myth-making and myth-using ability. The mythical aspects of this work are twofold. One type of Faulkner myth has been widely recognized and discussed. Probably the best exposition of this appears in the introduction to the Viking Portable selections, in which This reading is made in terms of the following simple propositions: Myth does not rationally "explain" anything and perhaps does not even justify anything, but it does dramatize the human situation, appealing to and flattering the various non-rational interests that principally make us men.

People live by it, or may do so. History—the brute sequence of events—lacks dramatic structure; Three Decades of Criticism, edited by Frederick J. Hoffman and Olga W. Vickery, Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, , pp. Inevitably, as Faulkner has grown older, the problems of his region have become more and more profoundly intertwined with his own commitments and ideals. Even as Ike makes this last pilgrimage, however, a lumber company hacks away at the forest and a train cuts through the wilderness, underscoring the idea of the damage a materialistic civilization can do to even the most powerful aspects of nature.

Faulkner shows an era of United States history passing—an era of abundance and of human appreciation of what nature requires from humanity in their mutual interest. Nevertheless, Faulkner illustrates through his invention of Ike McCaslin the extent to which idealism can flourish, even when constantly challenged by the grimmest vestiges of past evils.

Ab uses fire as a weapon against the ruling class that he sees as the shaper of his economic fate, and he exhorts Sarty to be true to the blood ties which Ab sees as the only protection for his kind against the forces of an exploitative aristocracy. DeSpain owns the farm on which Ab has most recently contracted to work.

Ab provokes a confrontation with DeSpain by deliberately tracking horse manure on an expensive rug. A series of moves and countermoves by Ab and DeSpain brings the pair to the point where, although DeSpain cannot begin to recover his loss from Ab, the local court nevertheless rules that Ab must take responsibility, within his means, for his act.

Sarty cannot bear to allow this injustice, and so he is torn between real loyalty to his family and commitment to an ideal of justice. Sarty chooses the ideal, warns DeSpain even as the barn begins to burn, and then flees the scene, unsure whether the shots he hears wound any of his family. Having made his choice, Sarty must set out alone to forge his own life.

Faulkner shows in other works how a new social order eventually evolved in which the descendants of Ab Snopes slip into the defeated, genteel society like silent bacteria and take over its commerce, coming finally to own the mansions that had previously belonged to the DeSpains and Compsons and Sartorises.

Again and again Faulkner reiterates that it was the corrupt systems of slavery and of the plantation that ultimately ensured the fall of the Old South. Yet his view of Snopeses—violent, relentless, insidious men and inert, cowlike women, who by their numbers and crafty pragmatism will wrench the land and the wealth from the depleted gentility—is hardly positive. As is often the case, Faulkner is extremely sensitive to the young boy caught in a painful rite of passage—as true for Sarty Snopes as it is for Ike McCaslin, Lucius Priest, Chick Mallison, and others not of the threatening Snopes clan.

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William Faulkner, a major American twentieth-century author, wrote historical novels portraying the decline and decay of the upper crust of Southern society. He was the oldest of four brothers. In Faulkner enrolled at the University of Mississippi as a special . Essay on william faulkner: free examples of essays, research and term papers. Examples of william faulkner essay topics, questions and thesis satatements.

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William Faulkner has been credited with having the imagination to see, before other serious writers saw, the tremendous potential for drama, pathos, and sophisticated humor in the history and. An essential collection of William Faulkner’s mature nonfiction work, updated, with an abundance of new material. This unique volume includes Faulkner’s Nobel Prize acceptance speech, a review of Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea (in which he suggests that Hemingway has found God), and newly collected gems, such as the acerbic essay “On Criticism” and the beguiling “Note on A.