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Effect Of Learned Human Interaction Shown In Stalking And A Rose For Emily

1593 words - 6 pages

How much of what we learn as younglings affect us as we get older? This question is answered in the literary works of “Stalking” by Joyce Carol Oates and “A Rose for Emily” by William Faulkner. Both authors attempt to explain this by using their main characters, Oates’ Gretchen and Faulkner’s Miss Emily Grierson. Gretchen and Miss Emily use different ways to cope with their problems. Gretchen uses her invisible adversary and Miss Emily uses Homer, even after she has killed him. They do not have the best social skills and in trying to interact with people they show how socially inept they are. Gretchen mumbles or completely ignores others. Miss Emily, while polite, simply dismisses the town authorities on two separate occasions. Both characters have been cut off from the regular world. Gretchen has been ignored by her parents; Miss Emily is blocked off from normal human interaction by her father. While both characters go about dealing with their loneliness, and interact with people in different ways, they support the idea that the way we are taught how to behave socially, affects us for the rest of our lives.
Gretchen and Miss Emily both created their own contact with another human figure. Gretchen created an invisible adversary that she stalked through her new town. “Gretchen, walking slowly, deliberately, watches with her keen unblinking eyes the figure of the Invisible Adversary some distance ahead” (Oates 188). Though she created this humanoid in her mind, it does not help with her inability to create normal human relations, without knowing, she pushed herself further into seclusion. Gretchen is also in a new town. “But the gas station has not opened since Gretchen and her family moved here—about six months ago” (Oates 189). The new environment gave Gretchen new places to play her game with the Invisible Adversary, and a new reason to not reach out and meet new people. Emily used the body of her husband, Homer Baron, like Gretchen used her Invisible Adversary, to interact with a human figure. “Then we noticed that in the second pillow was the indentation of a head. One of us lifted something from it, and leaning forward, that faint and invisible dust dry and acrid in the nostrils, we saw a long strand of iron-gray hair” (Faulkner 172). Miss Emily had been sleeping with the dead body of Homer Baron for thirty years. She used the body to interact with, so in those thirty years, she did not interact with the rest of the town. Resembling the way Gretchen kept her adversary alive in her mind instead of trying to find real people to interact with, Miss Emily kept the relations between her and Homer alive. Miss Emily wanted to have some form of close human contact that her father had provided throughout her life until his death; unlike Gretchen, Miss Emily had relationships with other human beings. Emily saw her life passing her by and with her father gone; she had a deep need for human interaction. “When she had first begun to be seen with Homer...

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