Comparison of two short stories
LOVE – THE ROOT CAUSE OF CRIMES
Andre Dubus’ “Killings” and William Faulkner’s “A Rose for Emily” look into the themes of passion, crime and morality. The violence committed in both stories is caused by love. “Killings” portrays a father’s love for his child and the desire to take revenge of his death. However, the crime he has committed led to self destruction and some sort of self murder as he faced questions of morality. The character find himself in a difficult position as he took revenge and failed to see that guilt would come haunting him. Feelings of anger and righteousness are illustrated by the character in the story. Similarly, “A Rose for Emily” portrays love as the root cause of the crime. In this story, Ms. Emily’s father suppressed her woman’s life. The death of her father liberated her which eventually led to the killing of her lover who wanted to leave her. The two stories are similar in terms of the themes of passion and crime. However, the characters differ greatly on the impact of their crimes. In “Killings”, the character felt guilt and a sort of emotional self death. While the character on “A Rose for Emily” died with no regret for what she committed. Both of the characters committed crimes of passion which are driven by different factors. The first one was driven by the loss of his son and the second one for the loss of her freedom to love and the desire to satisfy that longing. But despite these differences, the characters ultimately find themselves isolated.
“Killings” is based on the theme of punishment and revenge. The lead character, Matt Fowler, plans to take revenge on Richards Strout, the man who killed his son. This murder was more of a private revenge rather than self protection. However, Matt Fowler was unintentionally provoked by his wife for protection who suffered tremendously just by seeing the man who killed their son everyday. As Dubus wrote, “Ruth can’t even go out for cigarettes and aspirin....She sees him all the time. It makes her cry” ().
Although the crime committed by Fowler is motivated by the death of his son, it doesn’t serve as a justification for the killing. The revenge he has taken that resulted to the same act of killing became a sad issue in the story. The murder depressed him and he was confused between the clear guilt of Strout and the knowledge that despite the apparent guilt, he was still a human being. At the end of the story when Strout is murdered, Matt is left with guilt and a feeling of isolation. As Dubus wrote, “The gun kicked in Matt’s hand, and the explosion of the shot surrounded him, isolated him in a nimbus of sound that cut him off from all his time, all his history, isolated him standing absolutely still on the dirt road with the gun in his hand” ().
Eventually, the story is unsettling because of the desire to take revenge and the feeling of isolation brought by the murder. Thus, the story creates sympathy with his desire to kill his son’s murderer and the horrifying feeling associated with that desire. The story is ironic because it shows the dark side of the character with his desire to kill and at the same time the sympathy with his horrifying feeling of death and the fact of killing a human being.
“A Rose for Emily” by William Faulkner is centered on the theme of a suppressed woman who longed for eternal love. It shocks us when we find out the lead character, Emily, has kept the corpse of Homer Barron in her house for forty years. Despite the fact that she had thirty years to bury Homer Barron, she chose to keep him and sleep with him throughout those years. The act of killing her faithless lover sets the dark and sympathetic side of the character.
In the story, Ms. Emily symbolizes a woman belonging to a higher class family that is controlled and suppressed by her father. With this, she began to despise people of the ordinary class. After her father’s death, she basically started her life all over again as a young girl which shows the change on her being an independent woman. Her interest in Homer Barron though was not really well appreciated by the townspeople but she did not sacrifice her love because of what people said. Emily was a strong woman trying to fight for her right. Her father turned her life into a hell when he was alive and the townspeople would not stop gossiping about her either. However, she found the eternal love she was looking for all her life by killing Homer and she succeeded to be with him whether he was alive or not.
A fair amount of symbolism is used in this story by the author to give us pictures of how the longing for love led to the crime committed. Symbolism starts off with the title, “a Rose for Emily”. Rose may have several meanings. It may symbolize happiness, sadness or love that Ms. Emily was deprived of by her father. As the author illustrated, “Her skeleton was small and spare. She looked bloated, like a body long submerged in motionless water and of that pallid hue” (). The author shows and lets us visualize how depressed she is in these descriptions when her father died or when the sheriff visits her about the tax collection.
These short stories expose the power of love as an encouraging tool to commit crime. “Killings” and “A Rose for Emily” with themes of crime, passion and morality, lead us to have sympathy towards the characters and morally justify their murderous acts. However, the love of a father for his son was the motivation of the character in ‘Killings’ to murder his son’s killer while on the other hand the character of Ms. Emily was motivated by her search for the eternal love. Both characters are faced to the question of morality. However, Emily’s character was stronger and no regret was felt until the end of the story. She represents a woman fighting for her right against the opinion of other people. The character of Matt Fowler was ironic in nature. He represents a man that is taking revenge of his son’s death by killing the murderer but ending up with self emotional death as a result of his own crime.
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