The Community Affects an Individual With or Without his Consent
The two short stories, “A Rose for Emily” by William Faulkner and “The Lesson” by Toni Cade Bambara relate situations that shed light on how individuals and communities or society affects each other. The stories reveal that whether a person wants to or not, he is affected and will affect his community. To illustrate this point, the two authors write about a typical realistic situation of human life and weave around it the lesson that they want to convey.
The first poem reveals that even if a person deliberately withdraw from the community, his life will continue to be a part of the community, affecting and being affected by it. This is especially true for Miss Emily Grierson who had withdrawn from society and lived all alone, except with a black manservant who serves as her gardener and cook. Even if she stayed all day in the house, she still cannot escape from the watching and questioning eyes of the world. The issue with the taxes had clearly indicated that she is still a part of the community. In other words, she is still liable to the laws of the outside world even though she choose to stay away from it. On the other hand, the stinky odor of her house brought complaints from her neighbors which means that her actions (even if done within her own premises) still affects the people around her. Moreover, even though she lives like a hermit, the people in her community are still interested about her life. As they cannot glean any information from her servant, they interpret the developments of her life by putting meaning to her actions like when she bought arsenic they assumed she was going to commit suicide or when she bought a complete outfit of men’s clothing, they guessed that she was going to marry. People were in fact not only curios about her but were also concerned and felt sorry for her. She is the descendant of one of the prestigious families of their town (perhaps she had been envied for they were glad when they learned that her father only left her the decaying house) and now they pity her for she had come to ruin (Faulkner, 2005, 594).
The second poem tells of the story of a young innocent, poor black girl, Sylvia, who was forced to acknowledge the fact that she is affected by the community or society in which she moves. Because of her age, Sylvia was not yet aware of the inequality of her real world. The author of the poem though points out an evidence of discrimination towards her race by the way the black children speak of their anger towards the Whites. Sylvia must have experience them herself but she had seen it more as a mere childish fighting and not as an embedded social and economic form of inequality that operates around her. Yet a time has come for Sylvia to woke up to the reality that a happy-go-lucky, , strong and no-nonsense girl like her lived in a world where indeed individuals live unequal lives. That there are rich and there are poor, that there are those who are privileged and those who are deprived. She cannot admit directly to Miss Moore that she had learned this lesson the day they went to a toy store to study about money. She cannot admit that the lesson had forced to wonder about people who can spend so much only for a toy when the same amount can be used by all the members of her family to visit her grandparents or that the money can be use to buy bunk beds or pay bills and rent. She wondered who these people are and why she was not like them. Prior to this realization Sylvia had not thought that they were poor (Bambara , 1972).
As a conclusion, it can be said that the two authors illustrate the effect of society or community on individuals by writing about the interactions of two fictional persons (who obviously does exist in the real world) and their community. Through their story, they were conveying the message that the community does affect an individual with or without his consent.
Bambara, Toni Cade. (1972). The Lesson. UC Davis Writing Program. Retrieved May 25, 2008 from http://cai.ucdavis.edu/gender/thelesson.html
Faulkner, William. (2005). A Rose for Emily. The Seagull Reader: Literature, 9th ed. (edited by Joseph Kelly). Charleston: Norton and Company.