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Faulkner in his story titled A Rose for Emily describes the various trials and tribulations that the character Emily faces during her life time. Here Faulkner narrates a story of the lady Emily in five parts to describe her life of loneliness and secrecy. Emily Grierson comes out as a very secretive individual who sacrifices human contact in order to keep her disapproving secret. In the end she passes on and the people of Jefferson who always thought of her as mysterious finally discover the truth about the lady Emily Grierson. Faulkner uses an identified narrator who we must assume is a citizen of Jefferson and also a very curious observer, to tell the story; the narration is the opinion of this unidentified narrator. The second is a short story by Steinbeck titled The Chrysanthemums. In this story we meet the character Elisa who we discover is an intelligent and caring women. Elisa is married to a farmer called Henry Ellen. In this story, Steinbeck describes the life of a caged woman. Here the term caged is used to mean that Elisa is an intelligent woman with great potential and she knows it. She has dreams and longs for freedom but at the same time she has to abide by the stated norms of the society. In this essay we will look at the characters of Emily Grierson and Elisa Ellen and come up with various comparisons (Faulkner & Steinbeck).


Emily Grierson is a very steadfast individual. This comes out when we see that her home is the only old house in an area that has for sometime now been encroached by a number of industries. All the other residents left leaving behind Emily's cottage that is being described as big and squarish frame of a house. Her steadfast character can also be seen when she engages the city officials who pay her a visit to enquire as to why she doesn't pay her taxes. Her response in this case is simply "I have no taxes in Jefferson". This she maintains quoting that the officials should go and consult a former mayor Colonel Sartoris for an explanation (Faulkner).

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Emily also comes out as a very secretive person. This is because she never leaves her house and also never lets anybody visit her without her consent. The only thing that people see is her loyal man servant, a black man called Tobe, who will be often seen leaving the house through the back door with a basket, presumably going to the market. This trait meets the people a in a number of ways eliciting various reactions from them. Most pity her because of the various predicaments she has met during her life; this to them is the reason as to why Emily never leaves her home (Faulkner). Only after her death do they actually discover her secret; she was a sick and disturbed women who loved being with dead people. This is first seen when she denies that her father is dead and it takes the efforts of the church and community to bury the father. Secondly she clearly murders her lover/ husband to be Homer Barron who the people of Jefferson describe as a quire individual; he loves drinking with younger boys in the local tavern and therefore according to many a man who can't marry. The Secret she has kept over the years is the fact that she is necrophilia and that she had murdered Homer so that he can never leave her side. Homer's body is discovered later on after her death (Faulkner).  

Emily can also be described as a loyal woman. This is seen by how she trusts her man servant Tobe. According to many, Tobe was the only contact that she had with the outside world. Secondly it is a known fact that Tobe started working for Emily since they were both young individuals and continued to do so till her death. This portrays her loyalty and faith to her servant. She had trust in him to keep her secret from the world and with no doubt Tobe kept it. In the end he only lets the society in after her death and then disappears never to be seen or heard off again (Faulkner).

Elisa appears as a hard working woman right from the onset of the story. She is seen tendering her flower garden which we discover is her escape from all her troubles in the world. Her efforts are even recognizable because nobody tenders to the Chrysanthemums like no other woman. Her devotion to the garden is seen as Steinbeck describes the attires she had on while working on the flowers (Steinbeck).

Secondly the attention she gives to the flowers has been described to detail therefore bringing out her caring character. The author describes how she takes care of the flowers in detail; she is described as one who has a green thumb, to mean she hard a special way with plants making them grow bigger and better. Later on we discover that the garden is a symbol of herself; beautiful and full of life yet restricted within a cage; her marriage (Steinbeck).

Elisa is also a very intelligent woman. Her intelligence is seen by how she interested in the various things around her. She wants her husband to see her interest in the farm business but her husband Harry fails to see this side of her. Secondly the way she is interested with the stranger also show her intelligence. To her the stranger symbolizes the outside world that she really wants to explore, but she is tied down by tradition. She therefore resigns to manipulating her husband to believing that she is happy while she is not. Her engagement with the stranger also displays her intelligence, the stranger thinks she is manipulating her but she knows this because she later on questions the intentions of the stranger (Steinbeck).

In conclusion, both women are characters that portray the various weaknesses of our society in dealing with matters that appear strange or taboo. The two women represent the other side of the society where no one wants to face yet they know a problem exists. The two characters therefore challenge the norm to provoke a change in the way we think and perceive the society at large.

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