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Reflection of Society in Literature


The introduction discusses the thesis statement literature reflects community and the body part discusses the statement in terms of the two literary works ‘The Lesson ‘ by Toni Cade Bambara and ‘A Rose for Emily’ by William Faulkner. Finally, there is conclusion which confirms the thesis statement.

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Literature and Community

Literature reflects group of people, individuals and the whole culture that influence each other. It reflects society in the frame work of occasions, traditions, background, thoughts, and beliefs of that time. Literature helps the readers to understand about the experience by narrating the images of the neighborhood and by this the reader can have a good judgment about the individual and society. Writers make use of their artistic skill through words in order to reveal everything which they are bounded by. Through their powerful language, they can make the readers feel about the cheerfulness, distress and the life experience of the society. Most of the writers in their literary work show the story of humanity.

“The Lesson” by Toni Cade Bambara is a story where the writer applies colloquial language in order to illustrate the talking style, situation and the back ground with reference to a group of African-American community in 1960’s. “Toni Cade BamberaÆs The Lesson demonstrates the impact of socioeconomic class distinctions on childhood perception and development.” (Tony Cade Bambera Æs the lesson, 2009). It also reveals the two kinds of constitution that prevailed in US society connected with the blacks and the whites as well as the rich and the poor. The main character named Sylvia is a very poor African-American girl who with her friends goes out for a shopping and she finds herself difficult to buy the toys which she liked and at the same time the rich people spend money to buy whatever they see in the shop. Sylvia understood the painful reality that this world is meant for the whites and the wealthy people. And she happened to know more about this from her neighbor Miss Moore. The story begins with the miserable conditions which the colored and poor people face in the society. At the end, there arises logic of optimism as the little girl has a firm mind to rise above from her present situation. So, one can say that more than cultural and economic inequality, this story gives an example of life and how one can study its value. In this short story the writer uses a different style of language in order to make the readers know that different kinds of culture and people exist in this society.

A Rose for Emily’ by William Faulkner is an example of a short story which shows how literature reflects community. The author uses this short story to concentrate on the theme of change and development as it is associated to the American South. The story is about Emily Grierson an alienated bachelor living in South in the later nineteenth or early twentieth century. The work reflects the community in the context of time especially the later nineteenth or early twentieth century life and situations of people. Gothic literary movement was found in the multiplicity of American Culture and this story symbolizes the Southern Gothic tale to a great extent. “Faulkner’s tale resonate the atmosphere of a fallen south; all of its characters may be seen as ghosts and spirits from a time past, where the grotesque and aristocracy merge to form a haunting, tragic, and a time darkly humorous yarn still thought to be a milestone of American Gothic literature.” (Davis, 2009). In the story one can see the pathetic condition of South due to the industrial revolution as the industry and custom try to coexist in Emily’s little town. There arise signs of industrial growths especially cotton gins and on the other side Emily’s house haunting the unattractiveness and perished beauty. Thus, the story describes the earlier glorious days with loftier aspirations and pride. Miss Emily is by no means a typical Gothic woman who is a victim of her society and circumstances and thereby isolated amongst the constantly altering world of south.

In this story the attitudes and beliefs of people in the later nineteenth and early twentieth century can be seen very clearly through the characters and their actions. The people born in the aristocratic families maintained to behave as land possessors even though they lost all of them. This attitude can be seen in the character of Miss Emily as she behaves arrogantly towards others under the privilege of aristocratic birth and past glory. Men of the old South like Colonel Sartoris and Judge Stevens are governed under the code of chivalry and are protective of white women. Sartoris was incapable to allow the tax collector to tax the poor bachelor and Stevens was not capable to confront Emily for the smell from her house. The change occurs when the new generation came and they are not ready to accept the old-fashioned social traditions of their forefathers. The man collects the taxes of Emily not in the way of his grandfather’s convention as she is against progress in the eyes of the new generation. Thus, Faulkner was very successful in depicting the conflict between nineteenth and twentieth century southern society. The issue in the story is the incapability of the representative of American South to progress along with the industrialized North after the Civil War. Though Emily behaved arrogantly towards the people and kept a staunch individualism, the people loved her which is revealed through their presence at the time of her death. “A sort of hereditary obligation up on the town. The people came to the funeral as a respectful affection for a fallen monument.” (Faulkner & Robinette, 1983, p.5). This shows the reader about the time, belief and attitudes of people in the South America.

Thus, one can conclude that literature reflects community to a great extent and also the individuals and whole culture influence each other. The two literary works ‘The Lesson’ and ‘A Rose for Emily’ cited here are the best examples to prove the thesis literature reflects community.

Reference List

Davis, J D. (2009). Horror literature site: A rose for Emily by William Faulkner. Bella Online: The Voice of Women. Web.

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Faulkner, W., & Robinette, J. (1983). A rose for Emily. Dramatic publishing.

Tony Cade Bambera’s the lesson: This is an excerpt from the paper. (2009). Web

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