Victoria Madeline Byrd
March 10th 2014
Moving Forces; Human Puppets
Humans are malleable. We are but reflections of our experiences and surroundings. We are all but powerless in the grand scheme of things. In two pieces: William Faulkner’s A Rose for Emily and John Updike’s Outage, you see this idea in full affect. Though in principle they are seemingly two very different stories, upon further inspection you see that both have a strikingly similar underlying theme. The will of humans is so easily swayed by outside forces, and these outside forces are what drives us, without us truly even knowing it’s there and in control of our every action.
In Updike’s Outage, you very quickly see that the technology is what is moving along the plot. Right off the bat, you sense the absolute silence due to the power outage has an enormous effect on the main character, Brad Morris. He began to hear a “beam creak[ing]…loose shutter[s] bang[ing]” and the “sound of wind and rain lashing the trees” not having his technology makes him realize how eerie his own house is. The whir of computers and technology is gone and from its absence, there is nothing for him to do. He begins to lose his identity in a world that seems completely changed. The absence of the power and technology made Morris and his neighbor, Lynn realize just how lonely they were. In the absence of their spouses and more importantly, the absence of the commanding power of technology in their lives they create ways to see each other and the world romantically looking for someone to satisfy the gaping hole that was left after the outage. The store cashier had “felt flirtatious”(502), Morris made Lynne’s act of “kiss[ing] dryly and tentatively”(504), attractive. And because of these clouded thoughts they begin to and almost fall into the act of consummating their infidelity. Their lives revolved around the electronics that owned them. They were even given humanistic characteristics to further push that it was alive and so much more real and prevalent in their lives. It “says” things, and without it “there was nothing to do”(501). In the end, when “the electricity came on”(505), Morris stated that the electricity was “to the rescue”(505). He understands that the technology coming back is his saving grace. He and Lynne both realize that their lives with electricity are just “how it is. [It] is reality”(506). They know that although they felt a rush of freedom, they were but lost sheep, and in the end the Shepard that is technology brought them back to reality and led them in the right direction.
In the beginning of Faulkner’s A Rose for Emily, you see very quickly that the surrounding society of that fated house is what determines the movement along the plot. It’s as though the time in and around the house would stand still if it weren’t for the townspeople making it move with their judgments and actions. Emily Grierson and her solitary, isolated life was the talk of the town. “Alive, Miss Emily had been a tradition, a duty, and a care; a sort of hereditary obligation upon the town”(84). Even from the beginning she’s not made out to be a human with free will but a plaything of the towns people, who were the driving force in the piece. The story is written in the perspective of the town looking down on her from above, and toying with her and her life; very similar to a god-like figure. The people in the town, throughout her life and after her father passed away “felt sorry for her”(86). They were so involved in the judgment of her personal life. “When she got to be thirty and was still single, we were not pleased exactly, but vindicated; even with insanity in the family she wouldn’t have turned down all of her chances…”(86). And then along comes a suitor that inevitably breaks her heart. The town dictates what happens to this woman. They control her life and the effect it has is devastating. They say “poor Emily”(87), the town thought she “carried...
Bibliography: Faulkner, William. “Rose for Emily.” The Compact Bedford Introduction to Literature. Ed. Michael Meyer. 9th ed. Boston: Bedford/St.Martin’s, 2012. 230-32. Print.
Updike, John. “Outage.” The Compact Bedford Introduction to Literature. Ed. Michael Meyer. 9th ed. Boston: Bedford/St.Martin’s, 2012. 230-32. Print.
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