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The short story ‘A Rose for Emily’ by William Faulkner and ‘Hills Like White Elephants’ by Ernest Hemingway are not comparable when it comes to the plots of the stories, but both stories have many similarities. Both stories have women characters with tragic occurrences. The women, Emily from ‘A Rose for Emily’ and Jig from ‘Hills Like White Elephants’ consume leading roles and have or had the strong influence of a dominant male, which sculpted their life. Emily and Jig are also isolated, Emily who isolates herself from her community and Jig who feels isolated by ‘The American’s’ feelings towards her pregnancy.
Both stories also deal with murder, although not in the same since. In ‘Hills Like White Elephants’ Jig is having a conversation with the American about having an abortion, and in ‘A Rose for Emily’ Emily murders her lover Homer. These two stories situations could not be more different; however, the tragedies are equally frightening. The tragedies in ‘A Rose for Emily’ come down to the fact that Miss Emily Grierson lived a life of turmoil.
Her whole life could be described in loneliness and death. Emily is confined to her home by self-imprisonment after what some may call a blind devotion to her father, her lover and her home. Emily’s childhood was dominated by a controlling father. Her upbringing was severely oppressed, and she was unable to socialize as a young woman. Her father felt her to be too good for any of the local men and made sure that she was under constant supervision to avoid her from seeing anyone.
Which may have lead to Emily’s mental health. Her neighbors disregard toward her inability to let go of her father after his death, despite the delicacy of her being, caused for her madness to fester. ‘She told them her father was not dead. For three days she did this, ‘We did not say she was crazy then. We believed she had to do that.’ (Faulkner.311). Their negligence of all the warning signs; even after her lover vanished, the deterioration of her home, and Miss Emily’s inability to accept reality serves as the most prevailing form of repression in this story. Emily then started seeing a man named Homer. But the community of Jefferson being extremely judgmental, believed that she was forgetting her ‘noblesse oblige’ and accused her of setting a bad example for the younger generation. These harsh words from the town people and unwillingness to accept their relationship, which may have influenced Homers decision to leave Jefferson, may be one reason that Emily killed her lover, Homer. Leading Emily to live in solitude for thirty years until her death.
In the story ‘Hills Like White Elephants’ the tragedy is the conversation that Jig and the American are having. They are sitting at a train station in Spain, as the American attempts to talk Jig into getting an abortion. ‘The American’ says, ‘That’s the only thing that bothers us. It’s the only thing that’s made us unhappy.” (Hemingway 115) which unequivocally shows that the center of conflict inside of their relationship is the presumed pregnancy. Jig is faced with the choice of her freedom or taking the responsibility of becoming a mother. Choosing her freedom would be the death of the unborn child but choosing motherhood would be the death of everything she loves in her life at that moment.
As the American is doing his best to make her see his side of things without an open mind. Although he does state that he won’t force her to have the operation but believes that it would be best for them. Thus, making this even harder on Jig. She wonders if they could really be happy if she does have the operation. They continue to have the conversation/ argue until Jig gets tired and makes the American promise to stop talking. These two stories are completely different but have many similarities.
The difference is that Emily reflects this personality issue through grieve, hostility and violence and Jig does so in a happily manner, she’s much more open about it and almost seems careless. Together they both have some male companion whether it would be a more convincing man who wants Jig to have an abortion or in Emily case the dead Homer who she keeps as a pet.
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