Thursday, September 25, 2008

IND AFF: Setting

In Fay Weldon’s “sad story” the reader is introduced to a young 25 year old student who narrates her story of her love for her professor, Peter Piper. It takes place in a beautiful setting, the “pretty town” of Sarajevo, the town where the assassin Princip shot the Arch Duke and started the spark which lead to World War I. During their trip however, they are plagued by a storm that stretches from Moscow to London. Fay uses this sad and gloomy setting to set a specific tone throughout the story, and even the theme. Through Fay’s two characters and the gloomy setting Fay illustrates how in relationships both partners have to be sure they love the other, or else they both will be miserable

Throughout the story the story of Princip the assassin is told; fitting, since they are at the place where Princip did the deed that made him famous. The story of the narrator is almost an allegory, she is the assassin and his marriage is the Archduke. The narrator consulted her sister, Claire, on what to do about her very confusing situation, Claire responded, “You see a catch, go ahead and catch it! Go for it!” Immediately the next paragraph begins with, “Princip saw the archduke’s car parked outside, and he went for it.” She talks about Princip’s struggle, whether or not he should have “gone for it” or “gone home to his mother.” This is a parallel to her issues. She isn’t sure if she should destroy a marriage for her intentions, if she should take her “cue from fate” and unhinge her beloved professor’s marriage. Every time they mention the assassination of Franz Ferdinand the narrator never forget that Princip also killed his wife, and everyone always forgets the wife, her situation is no different. If she were to go for it, she would not only be killing the marriage of the Pipers, but destroying Mrs. Piper. Grieve and sorrow would be the end of Mrs. Piper.

The narrator does come to her senses and realized that destroying a marriage is not something that she can do. When asking Claire to advice, she confides in her her concern of destroying a marriage. Claire said that if she can get away with destroying a marriage, then it was meant to be destroyed. The narrator relates this to Princip’s shot starting World War I. Peter argued that had it not been for Princip, the war still would have happened. That Princip was not the main cause for the war. This bothers the narrator and she dwells on it for the remainder of her time with Peter, until she come to her senses. She responds to a question out of habit, “What are you thinking about?” “How much I love you.” This is the shot that assassinated all the narrator’s confusion. The narrator realized how much she had lied, and goes on to say that one can’t be certain that without Princip the war would still occur that something could have come to change to tension in the countries and leave them at rest. Something could come and make Peter and his wife back the way they used to be.

It wasn’t only narrator who Fay shows their struggle. The story opens with the backdrop of a “rain filled” Sarajevo. The storm is a big one; it reaches from their location of Sarajevo, to where Peter’s wife was in Cambridge, England. The storm hangs over Peter as a symbol of his confusion towards his situation with the narrator and his wife. Peter seems distracted, even making the interesting mistake of saying “Hungro-Austrian” instead of “Austro-Hungarian.” Not until the narrator decides to leave, is it that Fay show’s what Peter had been distracted with the entire time. While leaving the narrator kisses Peter’s forehead, and catches a whiff of chlorine. The chlorine is probably from his morning shower, but is understood to come from his thoughts of his who “permanently smelled like chlorine” due to her job at a pool.

Fay’s story is an interesting one that is strung on many levels. The most obvious and evident is setting on their minds, and how they, Peter and the narrator, are somewhere other than in Sarajevo, the narrator is assassinating the archduke, while Peter is with his wife in Cambridge. The second more subtle one is the enormous storm that was shared by Peter and his wife, showing his confusion. In the end however, the narrator becomes more mature and realizes that a marriage is not something you ruin unless both parties are certain that that is what they want, and Peter was stuck on his wife, he can never forget his wife.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Point of View: A Rose for Emily

In William Faulkner’s short story “A Rose for Emily” the reader is presented with the narrative of an old lady who is rejected by society. The reader is introduced to Miss Emily Grierson by an onlooker, someone who is not Miss Emily, but part of the town that rejects her. The narrator has a partly omniscient point of view, knowing more than the average town’s person, but not everything there is to know about Miss Emily. The narrator is present for all of the scenes, but never plays a major role which would have him speak or do anything significant. William Faulkner deliberately writes the story in this fashion to show exactly how secluded and isolated Miss Emily is in relation to the rest of the town, and moreover to show society’s and one’s reluctance to change.

Throughout his story, Faulkner establishes that his character is part of the town. In the first sentence of the story the narrator says “our town,” showing that he is in fact part of the town. The narrator is never explicitly pointed out, however one can make assumptions of his age and other things through the clues Faulkner left for the reader to find. The narrator switches between using “our,” “I,” and “we,” to “they” and “their.” This is exemplified in statements like, “at first we were glad,” and “they just said”. Although, the narrator does make it a point to separate himself from the younger crowd with statements, one of the most blunt being “when the next generation, with its more modern ideas.” In saying the next generation, the narrator is saying that he is part of an older generation with seemingly obsolete ideas.

The narrator being older was not a mistake, and had a clear purpose, because the narrator was older her knew more, and allowed the reader to experience first hand what happened in the past through flash backs. The information that is given to us through the narrator is a major part of the plot, and understanding how the town and its people look and perceive Miss Emily. Through the years the town from looking at Miss Emily as a “monument” to thinking of her as a “fallen monument,” of course the narrator’s town saw Miss Emily as the monument that has fallen for the new generation’s town. The entire town would gossip about her, being happy for her when she would find someone and feeling sorry for when she was left alone. The town almost pitied Miss Brill.

Miss Emily isolation from the town is partly her own fault. This is another benefit of having an older member as a narrator; we can compare him to Miss Emily. The narrator in the story is still part of the town, saying “we” and “our.” So why not Miss Emily? From the very beginning, the narrator shows his submission to the new generation and its new ideas. Miss Emily however does not. The end of part one the narrator goes over an argument between Miss Emily and the town sheriff showing her stubbornness, and unwillingness to change. Things like that just alienate Miss Emily more from the town, and enable them from pitying her and looking at her as a “fallen monument.”

The choice of narrator is probably best left as someone who is not the main character for drama’s sake. The story is told after the death of Miss Emily and involves something of a mystery, with the ending leaving the reader to decide the sanity of Miss Emily and death of a man found in her attic. Had this been seen through the thoughts of Miss Emily, the reader would know everything, and the mysterious aspect of the story would be absent. The narrator we are provide with has a point of view that gives us a neutral view and allows the reader to enjoy the plot, and gives us a thrill from the lack of certain information.

Faulkner wrote Miss Emily with the purpose of showing the tendencies of humans to not like change, and mocking or pitying those who are unwilling to change. “A Rose for Emily,” is a perfect example of such a point. Faulkner gives us Miss Emily, a person who did not want to change, and got so disconnected from the world that everyone around her looked at her as an ornament, just something to look at and talk about. This is a great story of society for one. This is a reality, and Faulkner makes it clear.