- Consider the narrator, who represents the town (see pg 117). Why use this collective voice? And what about the narrator's attitude towards Miss Emily? Is he neutral? Does he (we assume a male voice?) reveal a specific attitude? Find and mark passages that reveal the narrator's attitude.
- History and the past: consider the second paragraph of section 5. Time shifts in story are not always clear, but here are three main time periods: 1880s/1890s/1920s
- Miss Emily: Consider that she is described as a "fallen monument" (130) and "a sort of hereditary obligation." Also, examine the "tableau" described at the top of page 133. We might conclude that Bartleby the Scrivener chooses to withdraw from society and ultimately die. Does Miss Emily also choose to withdraw from society? Is her withdraw an act of free will?
Along these lines, consider the following critical statements about the short story. (From Judith Fetterley, The Resisting Reader: A Feminist Approach to American Fiction)
Emily's [spatial confinement] is a metaphor for her psychic confinement: her identity is determined by the constructs of her father's mind, and she can no more escape from his creation of her as "a slender figure in white" than she can escape his house. What is true for Emily in relation to her father is equally true for her in relation to Jefferson; her status as a lady is a cage from which she cannot escape.
[Emily's] tragedy is not motivated only in her protected and sheltered upbringing or in an oedipal bonding to her strong father. Her solution is to destroy in order not to be betrayed, to conceal not to be discovered, to withdrawal to be let alone with her memories and problems. Her "solution" is not a workable one; isolation and withdrawal may help her strive, but she is nevertheless among the living dead.
Finally, consider the title of the story.
1. What do men do by making women ladies?
**invoke stereotypes--not individuals
**make women unwilling victims (is Miss Emily's limited choice really a choice?)
**become oppressed by women they oppress (acts of violence)
The story reveals this syllogism: Miss Emily is a lady/Miss Emily is grotesque---A lady is grotesque
2. How do women like Miss Emily retaliate?
**murders rather than just withdraw--not passive resistance
**their power is limited and depends on secrecy
- Think more about the significance of character in this story and moral emphasis connected to character. This is important as you think about the ending. Does Charlie deserve a second chance? Is Marion too hard on him? Should Charlie expect to have to struggle "to earn back his character"?
- Consider Charlie and Helen's past--e.g., page 371. Perhaps connect this past to Honoria's comments (section 2).
- Consider Charlie's comments about "selling short" and "losing everything in the boom (375). How does this story's treatment of the past and present compare to their treatment in "A Rose for Emily"?
Think more about the economic metaphors in the story.
For example, "selling short" (question 5, p. 376) is important
because Charlie sells short with his character. "
"Earning" back his daughter can't be done with money or presents.
Also, Paris (modern Babylon) in the 1920s is a state of mind/an illusion----character can be permanent/eternal: core values, convictions, ideals. The story exposes Charlie's sense of his lost opportunities/wasted time/taking his life and those around him for granted--think of Helen, his sister-in-law, Lorraine, Honoria. Fitzgerald nicely chronicles the taste and manners of a time period (e.g., descriptions of Paris/French language), but he is also a moral writer. And this story is also a commentary of American society and personality too.