What are some similarities and differences between the victims in these stories? (Fortunato from "The Cask of Amontillado" and Homer Barron from "A Rose for Emily")

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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While the character of Fortunato of Poe's "The Cask of Amontillado" is much more developed than that of Homer Barron in Faulkner's "A Rose for Emily," there are some evident similarities between the two. For one thing, both Fortunato and Homer Barron are victimized. In Poe's story, Fortunato is taken advantage of from the beginning; Montresor lures him to his family's catacombs under the pretext of tasting the Amontillado, and later Montresor taunts Fortuanto by feigning concern for his health and by playing upon the man's jealousy of the connoisseur Luchesi. On the other hand, it does not appear that Homer is victimized at first when he is seen driving Miss Emily around town.  For, he is described as

a big, dark, ready man, with a big voice and eyes lighter than his face.

And, it is not until the conclusion of the story's narrative that readers learn the fate of Homer, that he has been trapped and killed, as Fortunato has been trapped and murdered by Montresor.  Yet, the motivations for the murders greatly differ.  For, while Montresor seeks revenge for the "thousand injuries" which Fortunato has purportedly committed against him, Emily's poisoning of Homer Barton seems more defensive. Her actions seem to stem from her refusal to be denied in her older years; once again, perhaps, she "clinged to that which had denied her."  Finally, the "iron-gray hair" on the pillow next to the body once in an embrace indicates that Emily's murder is an act of grotesque love whereas Montesor's murderous act is cruel and horrific as he fetters his victim to the granite and walls up the niche, shouting back at the desperate cries of Fortunato, and later boasting that for fifty years "no mortal has disturbed [the rampart of bones]."

Certainly, there is a tragic element to the demise of Homer Barron with Emily's hair resting upon the pillow beside him as she dies in another room upon a yellowed pillow.  However, there is more horror than tragedy to the ending of Poe's story as Montresor appears disturbed by his own crime as his contemplation is of what he himself has done.  At any rate, horror prevails throughout "A Cask of Amontillado" and only appears at the very end of "A Rose for Emily" as Emily retains Homer in the only way she feels she can.

 

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