How do the characters in "A Rose for Emily" and "Paul's Case" compare and contrast in terms of: 1)misfits 2) social acceptance 3) Loneliness & death? How are Emily and Paul both misfits? What...

How do the characters in "A Rose for Emily" and "Paul's Case" compare and contrast in terms of: 1)misfits 2) social acceptance 3) Loneliness & death?

How are Emily and Paul both misfits? What examples illustate this? Why are both concerned about social acceptance and what others think about them?

Expert Answers info

favoritethings eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2016

write6,375 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, History, and Arts

Both Emily and Paul are misfits, though she does not choose her alienation; she is raised as a woman apart, her family holding "themselves a little too high for what they really were," according to the people in town. Emily and her family were "thought of . . . as a tableau." She does not seem to seek social acceptance or desire it; she makes few attempts to be gracious, and her privacy seems to constitute her biggest priority. To the extent that she does care, I think she only does so in order to conceal her identity as Homer Barron's murderer—for example, she has the sense to lie to the man she buys poison from—or to avoid compromising her family's status (or what she perceives it to be).

Paul, on the other hand, does seem to choose his alienation. While Emily's hauteur and pride is aggravating to the townspeople at times, Paul's "Disorder and impertinence" cause terrible "rancour and aggrievedness" among his teachers. For Paul, there is certainly a payoff, and he revels in the "delicious excitement" of the "peculiar stimulus" of the arts and cultural events. He certainly does not seem to desire social acceptance beyond the trust he must win in order to enact his plan. Both Paul and Emily, then, act appropriately enough—with the appearance, at times, of caring what others think—so that they can arrange their lives to their liking as much as possible given their financial constraints.

check Approved by eNotes Editorial
gbeatty eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2007

write2,654 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, History, and Science

Well, in both cases, the main characters are misfits in some way. In both cases, art and love are their two roads through which they seek social acceptance. In both cases, they end up dead. You have a good general structure of similarities.

However, you also have marked differences. Emily is warped by a lifetime of control and indulgence; her oddity is supported by an entire town. Paul's, by contrast, seems more innate in his character, and, of course, younger.

Likewise, the town fails to act to correct Emily, but the school does act on Paul. (It forces him further away, but it does act.

How they die differs markedly: age vs. his own hand.

As far as loneliness, that may be the most marked difference. Paul's entire soul breaks with the loneliness. Emily's…warps. She sleeps with a corpse, after all.

Further Reading:
check Approved by eNotes Editorial

ntntuyet | Student

For Emily, nothingness and emptiness bring her long-lasting misery. The death of her father makes her disappointed in life. However, it frees her from dependence.

check Approved by eNotes Editorial

Unlock This Answer Now