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Southern Gothicism

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Southern Gothicism

There are many elements that classify a story as southern gothic. "A Rose for Emily," "Barn Burning," and "A Good Man is Hard to Find" all contain characters that expose the dark side to southern life. This exposure is seen through stereotypes, religion, nature, magical realism and the end result of macabre.

The secrecy behind Emily's isolation reveals key elements of southern Gothicism in "A Rose for Emily." The story takes place in the South where Miss Emily's mansion is described as "lifting its stubborn and coquettish decay [...] -an eyesore among eyesores" (Faulkner 30). Along with the outside of the house the inside is decaying as well. Delegates from the Board of Alderman go to Miss Emily's house and describe it as "smell[ing] of dust and disuse--a close, dank smell" (Faulkner 30). In addition, Miss Emily is described as "a fat woman [...] / [h]er skeleton was small and spare; [...] / [s]he looked bloated, [...] / [h]er eyes lost in the fatty ridges of her face" (Faulkner 30). These details of her appearance also depict that she too is falling apart along with her house. However, aside from her grotesque physical description Miss Emily Grierson is portrayed to be a stereotypical southern belle. Her father was an extremely wealthy man and their mansion was once in the midst of the elite. At one time her family was very well established in the Jefferson community which is why she believes that she doesn't owe taxes. However, her southern belle image only covers a very dark secret. After her death a sinister incident reveals her to be the complete opposite of a southern belle--a necrophiliac. The townspeople go to her house and discover Homer Barron "rotted beneath what was left of [his] nightshirt, [and] had become inextricable from the bed [...] / [and on] the second pillow was the indentation of a head / [with] a long strand of iron-gray hair" (Faulkner 35). This unexpected event shows magical realism and also portrays Emily as the villain. The presence of macabre can be seen throughout the entire story from the death of Emily, her father, and Homer Barron.

In "Barn Burning," violence and revenge emerges several times through magical realism in correspondence to Abner Snopes. Faulkner describes him as: "without face or depth--a shape black, flat, and bloodless as though cut from tin in the iron folds of the frockcoat which had not been made for him, [his] voice harsh like tin and without the heat like tin" (148). In addition, he refers to Abner's hand as "a curled claw" and his foot as "machinelike [...] which seemed to bear (or transmit) twice the weight which the body compassed" (Faulkner 150). These extraordinary/devilish characteristics he possesses suggest that he is not human. Furthermore, the continuous conflict of fire as a force of nature

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