Southern Gothic. A Rose for Emily, is a story in which a woman, Emily, is discovered by the townspeople to have a rotting corpse of her lover, Homer Barron, in her bedroom, and OConnors A Good Man is Hard to Find, portrays a southern fa

Authors Avatar


Srdan Dvanajscak

Professor Swisher

English 210

13 February 2010

Southern Gothic

        Southern gothic style is a style of writing that engages grotesque and ironic events to study the values of the American south and its people (Southern). Two of the best known writers to use this style of writing are William Faulkner and Flannary O’Conner. Faulkner’s short story “A Rose for Emily,” is a story in which a woman, Emily,  is discovered by the townspeople to have a rotting corpse of her lover, Homer Barron, in her bedroom, and O’Connor’s “A Good Man is Hard to Find,” portrays a southern family’s death at the hands of a heartless murderer, “The Misfit”. Both of these short stories are great examples of southern gothic writing because the authors used grotesque and ironic characters and events to show the readers the unpleasant aspects of Southern culture and its literature. Furthermore, both authors use different symbols and themes throughout their short stories.

         The most significant and revealing aspect of southern gothic writing is the use of macabre events. Such occurrences are easily recognized in both stories. In Faulkner’s “A Rose for Emily,”  which is told thought the views of a southern town and its people, portrays a woman named Emily, who is the last remaining member of her family. The townspeople watch as Emily begins to get stranger and stranger as the years pass. Eventually, when Emily dies alone in her home, the townspeople enter Emily’s home and are shocked to discover the horrible smell and decomposed body of her lover. Before Emily’s death, the townspeople thought that Emily’s lover had left her, but really he was in the upstairs bedroom slowly decomposing after Emily had poisoned him. Faulkner ends the story by showing the reader how gruesome Emily’s actions were when he writes, “ Then we noticed that in the second pillow was the indentation of a head. One of us lifted something from it, and leaning forward, that faint and invisible dust dry and acrid in the nostrils, we saw a long strand of iron-gay hair” (215).

         Flannary O’Conner’s story, “A Good Man is Hard to Find,” is equally grisly. In the story, a family is on a trip to Florida when their car loses control and ends up in the ditch. Helpless and stranded, the family notices a car turn towards them. When the car stops and the men get out of the car, the Grandmother notices that the man driving the car is no other than, “The Misfit”, an escaped convict. When “The Misfit” finds out that he has been recognized he tells his two accomplices to take the family members into the woods, out of the sight of the Grandmother, and murder them two at a time. O’Conner ends the story when the Misfit disregards what the Grandmother has to say and shoots her in the chest at point blank range. “She reached out and touched him on the shoulder. The Misfit sprang back as if a snake had bitten him and shot her three times thought the chest” (392). “The Misfit” thought that he was getting attacked by the grandmother and in an effort to defend himself he decides to shoot her.

Join now!

        Another aspect of southern gothic writing that both authors use is how they portray their characters and how the characters are models of the southern culture. In “A Rose For Emily, Faulkner’s main character, Emily, is a great model or example of the classic southern solitary, aging, lonely, unmarried woman after the Civil War. She lives her entire life in her family’s massive home, alone, served to by a black man who brings her food and other necessities. When Emily finally finds her lover, Homer Barron, she poisons him and prevents him from leaving her since this is the only ...

This is a preview of the whole essay