William Faulkner and Andre Dubus are renowned authors whose works are very popular and draw the attention of ordinary readers as well as specialists. In such a context, it is important to analyze views of both writers on the murder since this problem disturbed both authors. In this respect, it is possible to refer to “A Rose for Emily”ť by William Faulkner and “Killings”ť by Andre Dubus. Both writers create extremely dramatic stories and their characters suffer terrible tragedies they cannot recover from. In such a context, the main characters of both works commit one and the same crime ”“ they kill. Obviously, this is a terrible crime, which can hardly be logically explained, but, in spite of the similarity of the crime committed by the main characters their motives are quite different. On the one hand, there is Matt whose only desire is to revenge on his son, while, on the other hand, there is Emily who is blinded with love and her crime is provoked and motivated by her irresistible desire to be with Homer Barron. Hence, William Faulkner and Andre Dubus represent two different types of murders whose crime is motivated by love, but their ultimate goal is quite different. In such a situation, the question arises whether either murder can be justified and whether the love is worth killing or probably there was a different way to overcome serious psychological problems of the main characters of both stories.
First of all, it should be said that in order to understand true motives and goals of the main characters committing murders in “A Rose for Emily”ť and “Killings”ť, it is necessary to briefly dwell upon each story and discuss the actual motivation of main characters, circumstances and effects of murders, especially in regard to the psychological state of the murderers.
In this respect, it should be said that William Faulkner, being famous by many outstanding works, one of which “A Rose for Emily”ť, used a variety of tools to depict in details the drama of the main character, Emily. He uses a variety of tools, stylistic devices and artistic details to convey the personal tragedy of the main character. Basically, the plot of “A Rose for Emily”ť may be characterized as well constructed and skillfully organized that is a characteristic of many works written by William Faulkner. The good organization and structure contributes to the understanding of the logic and motives of Emily explaining her crime. In fact, the author logically leads the audience to the moment when Emily cannot help from killing Homer. In this work, the author also widely uses flashbacks, foreshadowing, conflict that help a reader to understand characters and reveal their entity. The use of this stylistic devices also increases the psychological tension and uncovers the internal world of Emily, her sufferings and her love to Homer.
At first glance, the story is quite simple. This story is about the fate of a southern woman and “the outcome of probably her one and only relationship with a man”ť (Kirszner and Mandell, 84). The story starts with the death of Miss Emily Grierson, the main character of the story.
The description of her death and the house is obviously the exposition of the story. By the way it is avery important fact that the story begins in medias rest or in the midst of the story that is the evidence of the author’s intention to manipulate the chronological order, which is often interrupted by flashbacks. For instance, Faulkner uses flashbacks to describe events leading up to the death of Emily. The author often uses flashbacks to introduce characters and return to certain event in the past, one of the examples of flashbacks is the episode when the narrator states: “we did not even know she was sick; we had long since given up on getting any information from the Negro”ť (Faulkner, 86). Within these flashbacks William Faulkner uses such a device as foreshadowing through which the author probably tries to give the reader an insight of events which will unfold later in the story. For example, when the author writes “So, she vanquished them, horse and foot, just as she had vanquished their fathers thirty years before bout the smell”ť (Faulkner, 82). On reading these lines, the reader will naturally ask him/herself what smell that is actually the smell of the rotting corpse of Emily’s dead lover Homer Barron that becomes clear only in the end of the story. One more reason for the author to use flashbacks and foreshadowing is establishment of storyline and introduction of conflicts that Emily, as the protagonist of the story, faces.
At the same time, the use of flashbacks and foreshadowing helps readers to reveal the priorities which Emily had in her life. The author intentionally lays emphasis on her love to Homer and he constantly draws a lot of attention to their relationship and a strong passion Emily had and which could not resist. Her love overshadows all other feelings and emotions and, eventually, it becomes the major power which guides the main character and leads her to the murder of Homer.
In such a way, the murder of Homer reveals the depth of the internal conflict of Emily, since she loves Homer but she cannot help from killing him. At the same time, her crime is a challenge to the entire society. therefore, one of the main conflicts is the conflict between Emily and the society, particularly new generation and citizens of the town when Emily “has become a kind of a burden to the town because of Colonel Sartoris’ promise to void her from paying taxes”ť (Kirszner and Mandell, 132). The conflict of the main character, Emily, with herself, particularly with her moral, is also quite obvious when she kills her lover Homer, who could leave her, but she can’t bear loneliness.
Moreover, the murder proves the strength of her love to Homer because she was apparently conscious of the effects of the murder and the social isolation that would follow the murder. Nevertheless, she did not give in and killed Homer, even though she exposed herself to even greater sufferings. In such a context, readers can hardly remain indifferent to the main character and they feel a strong sympathy because Emily is a loving woman who just wants to lead a normal life as all people do. All her desires are so natural that it seems as if she is an ordinary person who could have probably lived in the real life. However, the circumstances in which she finds herself ruins all her dreams and she is actually doomed to loneliness which she cannot afford. As a result, Homer looks rather like a traitor who deserved being murdered.
In such a way, Faulkner gradually develops the conflicts of the story and finally the author leads to the climax of the story when all characters are gathered in the house of Emily for her funerals. The tension of the climax of the story achieves its peak when they force their way into the room no one has seen for decades. The discovery of the dead body of Homer “now in the long sleep that out lasts love”ť (Faulkner, 87) is the key point of resolution. At this moment the reader understands what the author intended to say. At the same time, readers can feel sympathy and even pity to Emily because her murder was motivated by love and by killing Homer she attempted to hold on him and stay with him, even though such a love goes beyond the normal love. On the other hand, such unnatural love reveals the extent to which powerful was the passion of Emily that helps to better understand her crime and its motives. In fact, it is obvious that her love proved to be stronger than her reason and logic.
At this point, it is possible to compare Emily to Matt, the main character of the “Killings”ť, who also commits a murder killing Richard Strout. Obviously, his main motive is the same as the motive of Emily ”“ love. In fact, his personal tragedy is not less, if not more, significant and hurting than the personal tragedy of Emily. Matt has just lost his son, whom he loved above all and who made his life purposeful. The loss of his son almost drives him insane. He cannot afford the idea of living without his son, while the almost permanent presence of the murderer of his son constantly nourishes his desire of revenge.
It is important to underline that, similarly to Emily, the main character, Matt, also suffers from a serious internal conflict, because he is apparently a loving father and a good citizen, but he is deceived and he has lost his son. These personal failures make his life unbearable and evoke his revengeful intentions. In a way, Matt is also lonely in his sufferings because his wife seems to be deceitful and he is not confident in her. In stark contrast, Matt believes that she deceives him and, in this regard, it is possible to compare his wife to Homer since these characters are going to abandon those who loved them. Homer was going to leave Emily and was killed for that, while Matt’s wife had relationships with other men and it also affected dramatically Matt.
In such a context, Matt turns to be abandoned and betrayed because his wife alienates from him, while his son is dead. Thus, a person, who has just suffered from an unbearable psychological trauma, the death of his son, has to face all his problems alone. Moreover, he is actually betrayed by his wife as Emily was betrayed by Homer. As a result, Matt evokes similar feelings and readers can hardly keep from feeling sympathy in relation to Matt. However, unlike Emily, readers are unlikely to feel pity because the ultimate goal of Matt is not to restore his normal family life or to make the person he loves stay with him. Instead, the only feeling he has is revenge and this feelings is burning him and it is always on his mind. Thus, the murder he eventually commits seems to be the logical conclusion of his psychological sufferings and his growing desire to revenge on the murderer of his son. At this point, it is also possible to trace certain similarities between “A Rose for Emily”ť and “Killings”ť because Andre Dubus, similarly to William Faulkner, steadily and logically leads his main character to the murder, which seems to be the only tool that can ease his pain and internal sufferings.
Naturally, the revenge, which is the main goal of Matt, does not evoke such positive feelings in relation to the main character as the love of Emily does because, a priori, revenge has some negative connotation and it is often associated with some negative characters. But Matt’s revenge is a noble feeling. In fact, it is rather an affection than just a strong feeling. This affection starts to control his actions and make him determined to kill Richard. On the other hand, he is not a cold-blooded, calm, rational murderer, but, above all, he is a loving father who has lost his son and whose life has lost any sense.
In such a context, any reader who has a family or who shares traditional family values cannot remain indifferent to the fate of Matt and to his sufferings. His crime does not really evoke negative emotions, but it rather looks like as if he reestablished justice. At the same time, Matt does not look like a hero because a murder is not an easy thing to do for him. He suffers a lot and the revenge helps him to overcome the loss of his son, but he will probably suffer from remorse after killing Richard that makes his life even more difficult.
Thus, taking into account all above mentioned, it is possible to conclude that William Faulkner and Andre Dubus managed to create very complicated characters whose actions are absolutely unacceptable from the legal point of view. But from the moral point of view, it is possible to understand their motives, since both Emily and Matt are motivated by their love and they cannot live a normal life, being conscious of the fact that they are deprived of their love. This is why the murders they commit looks like a logical decision taken by really desperate people, who were betrayed and abandoned. In fact, they face their problems alone and the psychological pressure on the main characters of both stories reaches its apogee when they commit their crime. However, it is necessary to underline that the only thing Emily did want was to stay with Homer, while the major goal of Matt was revenge on Richard, who killed his son. Consequently, the different goals of the main characters can influence the perception of their crime by the audience. Nevertheless, readers can support or reject their decision to kill, but the feeling provoked by both characters is sympathy readers feel when they understand true motives of Emily and Matt.