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There is much of William Faulkner and the experiences of his life in not only his novels but also his short stories. Faulkner was born and raised in the South in the late 19th century, a time when the wounds and humiliations of the Civil War were still freshly maintained in the minds of most Southerners. A Rose for Emily is the story of Emily Grierson, an aging spinster who has committed a horrible crime but is made sympathetic by Faulkner nonetheless because she is a symbol of the old South trying to survive, unsuccessfully, the changes time has wrought upon it. When she dies, the whole town is interested, “the men through a sort of respectful affection for a fallen monument, the women mostly out of curiosity to see the inside of her house” (Faulkner 72). In Barn Burning, we are led to feel sympathy for another character guilty of a crime, Abner Snopes. Abner takes his frustrations out on the post-Civil War elites by burning barns. His son must choose between family and morality when he is asked to testify. It is his journey into manhood to choose morality over family, a fact that Faulkner comments on as being rare in southern society still smarting over the outcome of the Civil War, “Yes, we are a country people and we have never had too much in material possessions because 60 or 70 years ago we were invaded and we were conquered. So we have been thrown back on our selves not only for entertainment but for a certain amount of defense” (Hiles 495).

Faulkner’s life was spent peopled with the characters in his stories and he lived in places very similar to his fictional Yoknapatawpha County meant to symbolize the totality of the Deep South. His characters and locations are drawn from these experiences, perhaps with fictional exaggeration by the author which his characters into either heroes or demons. As Malcolm Cowley writes about Faulkner’s childhood experiences with all


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Faulkner. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 19:56, June 02, 2020, from