Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Irony in "A Rose for Emily" and "Good Country People"

Omar Aba
Mrs. S. Aiken
English 1102-50
October 5, 2009

Irony in “A Rose for Emily” and “Good Country People”

Irony of situation is an outcome that turns out to be very different from what the reader expected, the difference between what is expected to happen and what actually does happen. Both William Faulkner’s “A Rose for Emily” and Flannery O’Connor’s “Good Country People” use irony as an unintended connection that goes beyond the most superficial evidence. Throughout the stories, both authors use their early evidence to suggest the opposite of their literal truth.

The first story Faulkner’s “A Rose for Emily”, is a short story about the eccentric life of Miss Emily Grierson and her odd relationships with her father, her lover, the town of Jefferson, and the horrible secret she hides. Emily is largely dependent upon her father, and by the time her father dies she starts isolating herself from the rest of the world. Furthermore, irony plays a big role in “A Rose for Emily”. One of the first ironies throughout the story is when Coronel Sartoris the city Mayor tells Miss Emily that she does not have to pay taxes in Jefferson. However, when a new city council takes over they begin to tax her once again. By the time she is confronted, Miss Emily reminds them that she does not have to pay taxes in Jefferson and to speak to Colonel Sartoris, although Colonel Sartoris had died 10 years earlier (527). This event tells a lot about how Miss Emily has lost sense of time due to her isolation.

For instance, another irony is when the narrator explains that the Griersons had always been a very proud Southern Family, and probably “held themselves a little too high for what they really were” (Faulkner 528). Mr. Grierson, Emily’s father, believed that no man was good enough for Emily. However, desperate for company Miss Emily falls in love with Homer Barron, a second class Yankee, who destroys her fine reputation. Finally, in the opening characterization, many descriptive words foreshadow the ultimate irony at the climatic ending. After Miss Emily’s funeral, the townspeople immediately go through her house where they discover a dusty room strangely decorated as a bridal room. Homer's remains lay on the bed, dressed in a nightshirt. Next to him is an impression of a head on a pillow where the townspeople find “long strand of iron-gray hair” (Faulkner 532). The disturbing ending implied that Miss Emily once the town’s “monument” (526), had killed Homer and slept with his dead body every night.

On the other hand, O’Connor’s “Good Country People” also uses situational irony as a key element. “Good Country People” is a story about a farm owner, named Mrs. Hopewell, her only daughter named Joy-Hulga, and a Bible salesman, named Manley Pointer. Mrs. Hopewell is an old divorced lady who persuades herself that she is in control of the situation and hopes everything goes well. Ironically, throughout the story, simply nothing goes well. Meanwhile, her daughter, Joy-Hulga, feels sorry for herself because she has lost her leg, wears glasses, and has a heart condition; however, she seems to place herself above the rest of society because of her education.

The situational irony stars building up when Hulga places herself above others, and by the time Manley Pointer comes along appearing so innocent and simple, she thinks she can easily outsmart him. However, Manley knows he can just as easily outsmart the prideful Hulga. Manley and Hulga make a date to have a picnic together the next day. In the picnic Manly manages to persuade her to take off her glasses and then her wooden leg that represent her faith and pride. After Hulga proves herself to Manley and blindly falls into his clever trap, Manley takes her leg which he packs in a suitcase, between a bible, liquor, and pornographic cards. Without regrets Manley abandons her in the woods.

This scene reveals different situational ironies. For example, first, Manley Pointer is suppose to be the one with many beliefs since he sells bibles, but at the end turns out to be is the one who does not believe in anything. Manly stated to Hulga, “You ain’t so smart. I been believing in nothing ever since I was born!” (O’Connor 144). Second, ironically Hulga claims to believe in nothing and is actually left with nothing, no pride, no intelligence, no faith, and no leg. Now, alone in the woods, Hulga must build herself up from zero.

Both William Faulkner’s “A Rose for Emily” and Flannery O’Connor’s “Good Country People” use irony as an unintended connection that goes beyond the most superficial evidence. In both stories situational irony represents an element that helps emphasize the plot and climax. In addition, these two stories, reveal many obscure aspects of human beings that not many authors write about, but is really common in life.


Work Cited

Faulkner William. “A Rose for Emily.” Literature The Human Experience. Richard Abcarian, Marvin Klotz. Massachusetts: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2007. 526-532.
O’Connor Flannery. “Good Country People.” Literature The Human Experience. Richard Abcarian, Marvin Klotz. Massachusetts: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2007. 100-114.

5 comments:

  1. Great Essay! Thanks for your comment on mine. I can't believe I forgot internal citation! You just kept me from getting an F. Bless you. :)
    On that note, your quotations are great and well spaced (I hate the papers with quotes in every other sentence. They are so confusing). The only thing I noticed was that you cited a quote in your second paragraph about the Colonel being dead 10 years, when the statement in your essay was not actually a quote, but a paraphrased reference. I don't think the citation is necessary. Other than that, fantastic! I would love it if you would join as a follower of my blog so I can get your input in the future. Thanks.

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  2. This is a great essay. I like your details and quotes. But just like April said about the quote in your second paragraph. But other than that it looks good to me. Keep up the good work!

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  3. Hi! Overall it's well written, I think. However, I wouldn't open my essay with a definition. It's not the best way to grab a reader's attention. Also, in the second paragraph, it's not clear to me why telling the people that she doesn't have to pay taxes is ironic. I've read the story, so I know it's ironic because they're so used to treating her like royalty that they don't make her pay her taxes, or realize that's she insane. But just saying "This event tells a lot about how Miss Emily has lost sense of time due to her isolation." doesn't make it ironic, I think. Also I saw a few typos, like in this sentence: irony plays a big role in "A Rose for Emily”. The period goes before the quotation mark. Lol and little things like that. I wouldn't have called it out but I think she counts off for it.

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  4. Excellent draft and detail to the citations. Well thought and wrote.

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  5. I love how you started your introduction by defining irony to the readers. I felt like the essay was well written and you have very great details. The only thing I see wrong is the second paragraphy which isn't a major problem. I think you have wonderful writing skills

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