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Societal Views on Women’s Freedoms in the Short Stories “the Storm” by Kate Chopin and “a Rose for Emily” by William Faulkner

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Societal Views on Women’s Freedoms

In the Short Stories “The Storm” by Kate Chopin and “A Rose for Emily” by William Faulkner

Jacqueline Argueta

12/2/2013


 In the short stories “The Storm” by Kate Chopin  and “A Rose For Emily” by William Faulkner. Both stories  deal with women’s freedoms and the views that early 20th century southern society imposes on them. Both stories use strong female leads to portray the roles that society imposes on the women of that era.  In“The Storm”, Calixta  is shown to be a dutiful wife and mother and  In a “Rose for Emily” Miss Emily is shown to be monument of southern tradition. Both women rebel against the constraints that  society has put on however, the consequences that each women face are different. In “The Storm” Calixta has no consequences even though she  openly rebels against the role that she is assigned  of  being a faithful wife and  mother.  In “ A Rose for Emily”, Miss Emily also rebels  against society’s view  of her but the consequences she faces are more severe and she is labeled as  crazy fallen women. The stories argue that society’s view of women in that era can greatly impact their lives.

The way that both women are portrayed  shows the  values of the era. In The Storm Calixta is shown  to be a dutiful  wife and mother.   This fact is shown  when the storm begins she hurriedly   collects  Bobinot’s Sunday clothes that she had hung out to dry (Chopin, 336). This shows that Calixta takes care of her family by carefully taking care of her family’s Sunday church clothes. She  also expresses great concern for her family’s  safety  when she exclaims “If I only knew where Bibi was! ”(Chopin ,336). She worries that her son and husband are caught in a cyclone and wished that they hadn’t left. Chopin also shows that  Calixta is a  “overscrouplous housewife”(338) because Bobinot imagines her overacting when she sees them in the dirty clothes. This shows the  concern  that Calixta  has on  how society views her family and herself because it is the women's duty to take care of the  family and make sure they look presentable.

 The narrator makes a point of stating that Calixita worries what  society thinks of her because she worries that she is alone with Alcee.“ She had not seen him very often since her marriage and never alone”(Chopin, 336) It was improper for women in this time period to be alone with men whom  they were not related to or  who were not their husbands. Calixta is nervous to be alone with  her former suitor, without her husband and son being present because in southern society this would have been  seen as improper and it could lead to her reputation being tarnished. The narrator also states that before Calixta was married she was an “immaculate dove”(Chopin,337), this refers to her virginity, as it was the societal expectation or a woman to be virtuous before marriage.

In the short story  “A Rose For Emily” Miss  Emily Grierson is portrayed as a “monument” of “tradition”( Faulkner, 79). She was a monument of southern tradition because she represented the ideas of the old south. Her house was an example “it was big, squarish frame house that had once been white, decorated with cupolas and spires and scrolled balconies in the heavily lightsome style of the seventies that set on once on what had been our most select street.”(Faulkner, 79) she was the embodiment of the southern ideals  of grandeur and the class  in the south.  Miss Emily was a proper southern lady and she had to act in certain ways that reflected her class. When miss Emily’s  father was  still alive , they held themselves to high standards including suitors, as “None of the young men were quite good enough for Miss Emily”(Faulkner,81). In this time period a  woman of higher class had to marry someone of the same class and Miss Emily’s father thought no one was good enough for her. Even when her father  had passed away, the town people thought she should still follow the ways of the old southern traditions such as Noble obligation . Miss  Emily should not associate herself with someone of lower station because she a still a lady with a name to uphold.

The speaker also reveals  that the town’s people in Miss Emily hometown highly Scrutinize  her life.  They gossip about how she looks, and  with whom  she spends time. This is shown by the remarks that people make  when miss Emily dates Homer Barron. “The ladies said “of course a Grierson would not think seriously of northerner , a day laborer.” But there were still others, older people, who said that even grief could not cause a real lady to forget noblesse oblige”(Faulkner, 82). The town’s society expects to miss Emily to act in a certain way by not dating below her station. They also scrutinize her appearance “ she was over thirty then, still a slight woman thinner than usual with cold haughty black eyes with flesh strained across the temples.” The people say that miss Emily looks imperviousness even thought she was  a fallen woman. The town’s people also  gossip  that miss Emily is a fallen woman “ some of the ladies began to say that it was a disgrace and a bad example to young people”( Faulkner, 83.) The people in the town want for  Miss Emily to act  in a way that matches their ideal of how a proper southern lady should act.  The town folk act as the societal values that are imposed on the women because they try to dictate how she should act.

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