Sample Essay Outlines

  • Topic #1

    Faulkner uses “A Rose for Emily” to address themes of change and progress, especially as it relates to the American South. Although he describes particular individuals within Jefferson (Miss Emily, the older men and ladies, the town leaders), he seems to be using them as symbols for the larger issues that the South was facing at the turn of the twentieth century. Write a paper that discusses how Faulkner addresses the themes of progress and change in the South. Is he a traditionalist, hoping for the South to retain its old ways? Or is he critical of the South for holding on to its traditions?

    I. Thesis Statement: William Faulkner uses “A Rose for Emily” to comment on how the South, at its own peril, is refusing to accept the inevitability of historical and social change. If the South does not adopt to the changing times, it will die a lonely, perverse death like Miss Emily.

    II. The South as a region “bound” by history and tradition
    A. The influences of class and social rank
    1. The role of titles such as “Colonel” and “Miss”
    2. The town’s perception of Miss Emily’s house
    a. Was once located near “august” names
    B. The issues of race
    1. Tobe, the manservant
    2. Colonel Sartoris’s edict regarding “Negro women”
    C. Sexual relations
    1. Judge Stevens’s refusal to address Miss Emily, a “lady,” directly regarding “the smell”
    2. The expectations of marriage for young women
    a. Marriage within social class
    b. Marriage within “the tribe” (i.e., southern, white, gentility)

    III. Miss Emily as a woman “bound” by the South's tradition
    A. The influence of the father of Miss Emily
    1. “All the young men her father had driven away”
    2. “She would have clung to that which had robbed her”
    B. The pressures of the “town ladies”
    1. “Noblesse oblige”
    2. The pressures of marrying a Southern gentleman

(The entire section is 903 words.)