Compare the treatments of the North and South in "Roselily" by Walker and "A Rose for Emily" by Faulkner.

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Karen P.L. Hardison eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In both "Roselily" and " A Rose for Emily" the North is only alluded to because each story is set in the South. In "Roselily," the North is where Abraham Lincoln lived; where religious diversity exists; where Roselily won't have to work in a factory anymore; and where car drivers are not only white people. In "A Rose for Emily," the North is where Yankees live; where life values and people are different from those in the South; where freedom of personality and action is more abundant (if Homer is to be taken as an example); where men and women go out for a Sunday ride without a chaperon and without dread of scandal (if Homer's Yankee roots can be supposed the motivator of Emily's Sunday rides).

In "Roselily," the South is a small town called Panther Burn, Mississippi. The story is stream of consciousness, so the description of the town and of the South is minimal. Nonetheless, here in Panther Burn, only black people live; poverty is high; women with many children by many fathers live; hope hinges upon what a Harvard man from the North might be willing to give; where the cars that whiz by on the highway have white drivers; where marriage to a Northerner offers hope of freedom.

In "A Rose for Emily," the South is a town called Jefferson that is mostly white with black laborers and servants. The time in the South in Jefferson covers three generations: Colonel Sartrois's and Emily's father's generation; Emily's generation; and the younger generation who want to tax Emily's property a decade after Sartoris's death. The treatment of the South here shows the South in transit, starting out as the aristocratic South where Colonels and powerful landowners with black servants ruled everything and everyone, with the power to decide the fate of others.

For example, Colonel Sartoris decided the fate of Emily's life in a benevolent fashion when he invented a story to relieve her of the financial burden of paying city taxes after her father's death (since her father left her mostly debts and very little fortune). In contrast, Emily's father decided the fate of Emily's life in a malevolent fashion by "driving" away every gentleman suitor that came to call (whether out of false pride or out of false possessiveness, it is unknown). The picture of the South ends with a deputation of young generation city officials sitting themselves in Emily's musty parlor while explaining why Emily does in fact owe taxes or sneaking around her yard sprinkling lye because of the unidentifiable and unbearable stench from her property--which later connects to their shocking discovery.

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A Rose for Emily

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