‘Everyday Use’ and ‘A Rose for Emily’ Main Ideas Compare And Contrast

This is FREE sample
This text is free, available online and used for guidance and inspiration. Need a 100% unique paper? Order a custom essay.
  • Any subject
  • Within the deadline
  • Without paying in advance
Get custom essay

The short stories ‘Everyday Use’ by Alice Walker and ‘A Rose for Emily’ by William Faulkner both dwell on the custom of two families. Walker focuses on a mother, referred to in the story as ‘mama’ who is raising two daughters, Dee and Maggie while Faulkner focuses on a lady, named Emily Grierson, who is struggling to shake the beliefs of her past and fails to embrace change. It is clear that characters in both stories value their heritage and are proud of it. Whereas some are genuine about it, others like Dee are only interested in traditions when it advances their selfish interests. Also, while Walker transition her characters to overcome some negative aspects of their traditions, Faulkner fails to do so by letting the overbearing beliefs of Emily’s father influence her life in every respect until her death.

Emily is an obstinate individual who is too stubborn to abandon the past. As a consequence, she seems to detest life in its present form. It is disheartening to see her looking lonely and dejected. she spends most of her time indoors, perhaps as a way of respecting laws that forbade black women from walking in the streets ‘without an apron’ (Faulkner, 1970). On the other hand, Walker depicts mama and her daughters as individuals in touch with their past but are willing to shed off some of its aspects. For instance, even though mama is not educated because of discrimination that existed in the past, she has ensured her daughter, Dee, gets an education. In addition, she engages in work that is traditionally meant for men like ‘milking cows’ (Walker, 1973)

Both stories explore the theme of self-centeredness among its characters. In Walker’s story, the narrator, mama, vividly describes her eldest daughter, Dee, as someone who intimidates others to get what she wants. In all her associations with people, she loves to usurp all the attention and turn herself the center of attention. In other words, she shines at the expense of others and does so with little respect to others’ opinions or feelings. She cares less about Maggy’s feelings and wants everything for herself including the quilts that are meant for her (Maggy’s) wedding. Similarly, the narrator in ‘A Rose for Emily’ paints a picture of Emily who is completely disconnected from her social environment so much so that she takes the rich heritage that would have served as valuable lessons for generations to come to her grave. By refusing to share her life, Emily comes out as a selfish individual.

Another theme evident in both texts is defiance though it emerges differently through the characters in the stories. For example, Walker illustrates the defiance of culture and background by her characters while Faulkner focuses on defiance of change and its agents by Emily. Dee defies her background and origin by abandoning her maiden name in favor of a more Africanized one, ‘Wangero’. At the same time, she leaves her rural home in favor of elegant suburbs. However, her behaviors are contradictory since her claim not to fancy her name because of its links to her tormenters is weakened by her preference to leafy suburbs with the same associations. Therefore, her defiance is more of a gimmick than a serious ideological belief. In contrast, Emily’s defiance is based on her dislike for change and association with the outside world. To illustrate this, the narrator mentions an instance when she sends away emissaries sent to her for tax obligation queries (Faulkner, 1970)

Emily in Faulkner’s story is portrayed as a proud character who would not accept charity even when she needs it. The town mayor had to lie to exempt her from paying taxes since the general feeling was that the town needed to care for her. Walker, on the other hand, characterizes mama and Maggy as humble individuals who are comfortable with their situations and embraces it with grace. Unlike her fellows in the same story, Dee is a proud girl who perceives everyone as lacking in sophistication as compared to her. She makes this clear when she says that Maggy lacks the requisite knowledge on what to do with the quilt.

It can be concluded that both stories contain characters that are facing the same predicaments but deals with them in different fashions. The struggles they face shape their characters and views. In the end, they all behave distinctly in the same situations.

Cite this paper

‘Everyday Use’ and ‘A Rose for Emily’ Main Ideas Compare And Contrast. (2020, Sep 18). Retrieved from https://samploon.com/everyday-use-and-a-rose-for-emily-main-ideas/



What are the major themes of the short story Emily?
The major themes of the short story Emily are isolation and loneliness, the effects of social norms and expectations on individuals, and the consequences of repression and denial. The story also highlights the importance of communication and connection in relationships.
What are the two major conflicting ideals in A Rose for Emily?
The two major conflicting ideals in A Rose for Emily are tradition and change.
What is a good thesis statement for A Rose for Emily?
A good thesis statement for A Rose for Emily would be that the story is about a woman who is unable to move on from the past and who ultimately destroys herself.
What is the main idea of A Rose for Emily?
The theme of "A Rose for Emily" by William Faulkner is that people should let go of the past, moving on with the present so that they can prepare to welcome their future . Emily was the proof of a person who always lived on the shadow of the past; she clung into it and was afraid of changing.
We use cookies to give you the best experience possible. By continuing we’ll assume you’re on board with our cookie policy

Peter is on the line!

Don't settle for a cookie-cutter essay. Receive a tailored piece that meets your specific needs and requirements.

Check it out