Authors have historically used various literary works to reflect the societies in which their live. To this end, the actions of characters in literary works reflect existing social concepts whereas the surrounding society’s behavior mirrors on specific characters’ behaviors. In essence, societies and communities are normally depicted as mutually affecting each other. Notable cases of literary works in which such reciprocal interaction is demonstrated are the three short stories namely: William Faulkner’s A Rose for Emily; Flannery O’Connor’s Good Country People; and Toni Cade Bambara’s The Lesson.
To illustrate, through his A Rose for Emily story, Faulkner describes Emily Grierson as being negatively affected by her surrounding society. In turn, Emily’s actions negatively impact of her compatriots. Likewise, through the Good Country People story, O’Connor describes the character named Joy Hopewell as negatively impacting on the people around her. Consecutively, the society in which Hopewell lives demonstrates an attitude that negatively affects her. In a similar version, Toni Cade Bambara’s The Lesson story illustrates the character called Miss Moore being negatively affected by her surrounding society.
In response, Miss Moore demonstrates behaviors and attitudes that negatively impact on her compatriots. All in all, O’Connor – through Good Country People – Faulkner – through A Rose for Emily – as well as Bambara – through The Lesson short stories – describe their protagonists as reciprocally affecting and being affected by their societies in a negative way. For example, in Bambara’s The Lesson story, Miss Moore’s condescending opinion towards her compatriots – especially the children with which she spends most of her time – attracts disproval from the surrounding community.
Consequently, both the children as well as the adults disrespect Miss Moore. For instance, Bambara notes that ‘the grown-ups (talk) ….. when …. behind her back like a dog,’ thus showing utter disrespect for Miss Moore (). Moore’s irritatingly patronizing nature is evident when she ‘looks at’ her students ‘ like she readin tea leaves’ (). The author thus presents a picture of an individual and the surrounding society mutually affecting each other in a negative manner. Likewise, through the A Rose for Emily story, Faulkner shows that Emily’s unbecoming behavior invites rude responses from her compatriots.
For instance, Emily demonstrates impoliteness when she demonstrates stubbornness towards her society’s pleas that she pays taxes. She even firmly removes the society’s representatives from her house. Abruptly summoning Tobe – her manservant – Emily instructs him to ‘Show these gentlemen out’ (). In reaction, the society demonstrates indifference towards her as is evident from the narrator’s assertions that the society does not know of Emily’s sickness. To this end, the narrator remarks ‘We did not even know she was sick’ ().
Similarly, through his Good Country People story, O’Connor depicts Joy Hopewell as a character who demonstrates haughtiness towards her compatriots – notably Mrs. Freeman and Hopewell ‘s mother – the result being that she becomes painfully alienated from her society. For example, because she is educated , Hopewell mocks all people around her as is evident from her remark that her mother is ‘bloated, rude, and squint-eyed’ (). In reaction, society alienates Hopewell , thus making her to beg her mother to wholesomely accept her. A deeply remorseful Hopewell cries out to the mother saying ‘like I am’ take me ().
In conclusion, the issue of individuals negatively reacting with their surrounding communities is clearly evident through the 3 stories, Good Country People, The Lesson, as well as A Rose for Emily. Good Country People’s Hopewell suffers segregation due to her arrogant attitude towards her compatriots. Likewise, A Rose for Emily’s Emily suffers segregation due to her condescending view of her society. Lastly, The Lesson’s Miss Moore’s is disrespected by society owing to her attitude of viewing her compatriots as being unknowledgeable.
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