The Fascination With The Upper Class In “A&P” And “A Rose For Emily” (A Marxist Perspective)

1607 words - 7 pages

“A&P” by John Updike and “A Rose for Emily” by William Faulkner both explore class conflict and the problems that arise from it. In “A&P”, Sammy, the narrator, comments on a girl that he calls Queenie, who is more upper class, while he works at the A&P grocery store. Updike suggests that those with money have more freedom than those without. In “A Rose For Emily”, the entire town watches Emily as she falls deeper and deeper into mental illness. Here, Faulkner seems to suggest that those with money have less freedom. In “A&P”, Updike suggests that members of the middle class have a particular fascination with the rich, which ultimately leads to their demise. In “A Rose for Emily”, Faulkner ...view middle of the document...

Sammy is left with no attention and without a job. “A Rose for Emily” is told by a narrator, who uses the pronoun “we”. He constantly speculates on Emily’s life, trying to guess what she is doing. In the story, Emily is driven to madness and becomes a recluse because she is watched by so many. Her money has only caused her to be isolated from society, starting when she was a young woman and her father did not think any men were good enough for her. When her father died, Faulkner wrote, “We did not say she was crazy then. We believed she had to do that. We all the young men her father had driven away, and we knew that with nothing left, she would have to cling to that which had robbed her, as people will.” (Faulkner, 4). This shows that everyone in the town is watching what she does carefully and analyzing it. The town watches her so much because she is from a well-off family, so she starts to stay inside. The point of view of the story illustrates how her money causes constant eyes to be on her, and also causes more restriction for her. Thus, the constant watchfulness in both “A&P” and “A Rose for Emily” is evidence of the watchful, jealous eye of the middle class and the problems that can lead to for either the middle or upper class.
In both “A&P” and “A Rose for Emily”, Updike and Faulkner also use tone to convey the idea that the middle class has a deep fascination for the rich. Sammy is a very critical character. He watches everyone in the A&P behind his cash register. He analyzes every person in the store, making a story about them. He even gave Queenie the name Queenie, and deduced that she was the leader among the girls in the group. The tone is overall analytical and fascinated or even obsessed. Sammy is fascinated by and attracted to the girl throughout the story. This comes from her apparent freedom. She doesn’t have to have a job like Sammy does, but has the ability to go to the grocery store in her bathing suit for fun or on a dare, whatever the reason is, and to pick up herring snacks for her mother. When Sammy decides that the girls are rich, he thinks that his only chance to get their attention was to quit his job in a heroic way, seemingly for them. Updike writes, “The girls, and who’d blame them, are in a hurry to get out so I say ‘I quit’ to Lengel quick enough for them to hear, hoping they’ll stop and watch me, their unsuspected hero. They keep right on going…” (Updike, 6). Thus, Sammy ends up alone and without a job all because he was momentarily obsessed with a girl whose name he did not even know.
In “A Rose for Emily”, Faulkner writes in a tone that is very forgiving of Emily Grierson. It seems that the townspeople are constantly trying to think of explanations for her behavior, forgiving her for her eccentricities, while watching her obsessively, as if her life is their favorite television show. The townspeople give their opinions on her choices and feed off of any information they can get about her. Faulkner writes,...

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