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William Faulkner wrote many stories depicting society during the early twentieth century. In his stories Barn Burning and A Rose for Emily, Faulkner discusses how rich whites mistreat the tenant farmers who in turn abuse the blacks, tells about Colonel Sartoris Scopes dilemma when his father wants him to lie, and explains how Emily was mistreated by men. Through his works, Faulkner discusses society of the pre-Depression era by explaining the class distinction, adulteration of morals, and subordination of women in order to show the corruption of the American dream. In Barn Burning, Faulkner places an emphasis on the separation of social classes. Abner Scopes, a white tenant farmer, takes on a air of superiority when talking to a black servant.
However, Scopes neglects the fact that he is poor compared to the servant. He degrades the servant, telling him, Get out of my way, nigger (Faulkner 1625). His command to the servant depicts how the tenants viewed themselves as better than the blacks. When he enters the house, Scopes further insults the servant by explaining the difference between blacks and whites when he says, Thats sweat. Nigger sweat. Maybe it aint white enough yet to suit him.
Maybe he wants to mix some white sweat with it (1626). Through this quotation, Faulkner is explaining Scopes view that blacks and whites are not equal. Moreover, the issue of landowners feeling superior to tenant farmers is also mentioned in Barn Burning. Major de Spain, the owner of the house, shows his haughtiness over Scopes by boasting about his wealth.
After Scopes ruins de Spain's rug, the Major states, You must realize you have ruined that rug... It costs a hundred dollars. But you never had a hundred dollars. You never will (1627). Faulkner includes these passages to show that tenant whites feel that they are racially superior to blacks while landowners declare their superiority because of their wealth.
Through these two examples of class distinction, Faulkner states that the white landowner is at the top of the social hierarchy and the tenants and blacks respectively follow. This division of classes illustrates how the American dream is corrupt because not everyone had an equal chance to succeed or better himself in early twentieth century America. In Barn Burning, Faulkner also shows a dissolution of morals. Colonel Sartoris Scopes, the young son of Abner Scopes, has to testify in defense of his father after de Spain accuses the latter of burning down the barn. However, Colonel Sartoris undergoes a mental and moral dilemma when he realizes that he must forgo his sense of values in order to help his father.
He knows only if he lies is there a chance that the court will acquit his father. He decides to back his family on the issue, telling himself [Abner Scopes] aims for me to lie... And I will have to do hit (1623). Through this quotation, Colonel Sartoris is explaining that he must lie because his father expects him to. Colonel Sartoris knows that if he lies, he is obstructing the course of justice, but his father explains to him, Youre getting to be a man.
You got to learn. You got to learn to stick to your blood or you aint going to have any blood to stick to you (1623). Abner Scopes explains to his son that in order for a man to succeed, he must stand by his family so that they in turn may stand by him. The young Scopes boy learns through his own father that succeeding is more important than an unyielding set of morals. Through this conflict of justice and values, Faulkner shows that the American dream is corrupt because society values prosperity higher than a righteous and honest life. Faulkner also describes the subordination of women in his work A Rose for Emily.
Miss Emily loses her father and her one sweetheart deserted her. However, Faulkner gives the reader a glimpse into her dependence on the male figures in her life. Using Colonel Sartoris as the narrator, the author explains to the reader that the only central figures in Emily's life are males. He states, We remembered all the young men her father had driven away, and we knew that with nothing left, she would have to cling to that which had robbed her, as people will (460). Emily has nothing left once the men from her life are gone.
Faulkner once again depicts the unfairness of the American dream by showing that women are dependent upon the men in their lives. Through his works, Faulkner discusses society of the pre-Depression era by explaining the class distinction, adulteration of morals, and subordination of women in order to show the corruption of the American dream. In his stories Barn Burning and A Rose for Emily, Faulkner discusses how rich whites mistreat the tenant farmers who in turn abuse the blacks, tells about Colonel Sartoris Scopes dilemma when his father wants him to lie, and explains how Emily was mistreated by men. Bibliography:
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Research essay sample on Early Twentieth Century Colonel Sartoris