In every story, the author has to develop a setting or a location which can be a real-time or geographical location, physical landscape, climate, weather, and societal or cultural environments. Story setting gives the reader the concept of time, place, and environment the story takes place, which helps them relate to the events and understand the story better. The setting of the story ‘A Rose for Emily’ by William Faulkner is that it takes place in Mississippi, a small southern town in the United States of America in the early 1900s, and involves Miss Emily’s house (Faulkner, 1930). It was a big squarish frame house once painted white, with decorations and scrolled balconies. The setting of William Faulkner’s story is significant for the reader. The physical location makes the reader understand the story’s environment and can relate the events with the surroundings to find a sense in the story. The time settings and the cultural environment reflect Emily’s life, and the events can also be linked with time and the cultural settings of the society. Emily is the protagonist in this story, and Mr. Grierson, her father, is the antagonist since he had controlled Emily for the first thirty years before his death. Emily wanted to be free, live her life, and accomplish her dreams. Mr. Grierson deliberately thwarted Emily’s attempt to find a husband so that he could control her. However, for all that long, Emily had not questioned her father of his controlling character.
The author tries to communicate the themes of death and how people are unwilling to embrace change. The author mentions the death of Emily at the beginning of the story when explaining her life of Emily. Emily is described to die slowly as she is compared to a drowned woman left too long in the water. Despite the physical death of humanity, the story also provides that the death of the old social order will prevail, and people will one time embrace change. This is due to the people holding on to old ways and being unwilling to change for modernity. This is the main point of Faulkner’s story, which is still relevant today. Deaths still occur, and people are still resisting change. As much as civilization has overwhelmed every part of the world, some still believe and stay true to their old ways and are unwilling to accept the changes.
William Faulkner uses some literacy tools in this story to convey a deeper meaning of the main point to the reader. Symbolism is used to help the reader to associate one thing with another and get a more meaningful sense. One of the symbols is the house which represents a monument, just like Emily, showing the dying world of Southern aristocracy. In how it looks, it bares the stubborn and coquettish decay, just as Emily died slowly. The house symbolizes alienation and is a shrine to the living past. The author describes it, “It was a big, squarish frame house that had once been white, decorated with cupolas and spires and scrolled balconies in the heavily lightsome style of the seventies, set on what had once been our most select street” (Faulkner, 1930). Also, the strand of hair symbolizes the love lost and things people be happy about. Similes are also used in this story for the reader to compare and get insight into what is being discussed. For example, the author says, “she looked bloated, like a body long submerged in motionless water.” The reader can actually visualize the bloating of the women left to drown. Imagery is also used. The dust throughout the house represents the faded lives within Emily’s family.
Focusing on the other story, ‘The Lottery’ by Shirley Jackson, the story is set in a small village. The village is said to have a population of 300 (Jackson, 2021). The Lottery is the town square where people are gathered. As we read through the story, we realize that the village was a farm community since people always chatted about crops and farming machinery. The setting of this story is significant in that the reader creates peaceful and tranquil moods as they read the story. Also, the author chose the setting so the reader can connect it with the story’s ironic ending. In this story, Tessie Hutchinson is the protagonist, and the ‘Lottery’ itself is the antagonist. This is because Tessie and other village members are fighting against the ‘Lottery’ since it brings about immoral actions and behaviors in the community. The protagonist and antagonism in this story are different from the first story, ‘A Rose for Emily,’ in that this story involves a group from the ‘Lottery’ and the main character. In contrast, the first involves the main character and another character, Emily, and her father.
Throughout the story, Shirley wishes to emphasize the dangers of following particular meaningless traditions blindly. The Lottery involved picking papers from a black box placed between the square by the heads of every family. The family that would pick the paper with a black spot had a family member stoned to death. Tessie Hutchinson was the victim. These dangerous kinds of traditions are what the author addresses in her story. There are still people today who blindly follow some dangerous traditions instead of letting go and embracing change.
The authors use some literary tools like symbolism and numbers to convey her message. Symbolically, the black box represents the Lottery tradition and how the villagers are loyal to it. The black spot on the paper symbolizes death since the family that picks it is stoned to death. Also, the ‘Lottery’ is an action or behavior taken as a cultural activity passed from one generation to another. The rules had to be followed despite how tough and dangerous they were. Numbers in this story represent power. When Tessie and Mrs. Hutchinson tried to disagree with the results claiming, “It isn’t fair, it isn’t right” (Jackson, 2021), no one supported her, but everyone held their stones and was on her.
The other story is ‘The Yellow Wall-Paper’ by Charlotte Perkins Stetson. The setting is a summer home in America, which can be described as an asylum, with one bedroom where yellow Wallpaper is fixed on the wall. A woman is stuck in the room, and the yellow Wallpaper bothers her (Stetson, 2019). This setting is significant since it brings out the themes of isolation, where the environment shows the state one finds themselves in when they are isolated. The reader can experience all the intangible feelings and attitudes expressed in the story. The protagonist in the story is the woman stuck in the room since, through her, the goal of the plot setting is achieved. The antagonist is her husband since they are in conflict because he limits the woman’s activities as she seems mentally disturbed. The antagonism in this story is similar to Faulkner’s since it involves two characters but is different from Shirley Jackson’s story.
In her story, Perkins’s message to the readers illustrates how one can be plagued with anxiety, how they can behave abnormally as the mind starts preying on itself and how activities are limited and kept from healthy work. The woman was mentally disturbed, so doctor John, her husband, had to limit what she did by keeping her in the room to help her calm down, though she was still disturbed by the Wallpaper. Similarly, today, when people experience different types of mental illnesses, they are isolated and tamed as they receive the necessary treatments so they can recover.
The author has used different literary devices in the story to convey her message. Similar to other stories, symbolism is used in various cases to helping pass the intended message. The Wallpaper is used symbolically as something that affects the narrator directly. Initially, the Wallpaper looks unpleasant as it is torn, ripped, and in yellow dirt. Perkins says, “The color is repellant, almost revolting; a smouldering unclean yellow, strangely faded by the slow-turning sunlight” (Stetson, 2019). However, after looking at it for some time, she is fascinated by how it is organized. It symbolizes the family structure and the tradition the narrator finds herself trapped in. the author also uses first-person narration, which makes the reader understand the character’s perspective. Through first-person narration, we can see the story through the narrator’s view and knowledge. The reader gets insight into the domesticity and inferiority of women in society. Generally, the three authors have applied the proper story writing techniques to convey their messages to readers.
Faulkner, W. (1930, April 30). A Rose for Emily. Retrieved from https://letras.cabaladada.org/letras/rose_emily.pdf
Jackson, S. (2021). “The Lottery.” In the Mind’s Eye, 43–54. https://doi.org/10.4324/9781003235750-6
Stetson, C. (2019). THE YELLOW WALL PAPER. Retrieved from http://www.mrsevansenglishclass.com/uploads/2/3/1/5/23158848/the_yellow_wall_paper.pdf