Study Help Essay Questions


1. Discuss the narrative structure of "A Rose for Emily." Why does Faulkner present the story's events in non-chronological order? Would the story be successful if he had told it in a strictly linear fashion? Why or why not?

2. How does the narrator's opinion of Miss Emily change throughout "A Rose for Emily"? Does the narrator's admiring her, even after she kills Homer Barron and sleeps with his corpse, bother you? What does the narrator's accepting Miss Emily's actions suggest about Southern culture?

3. Compare how the townspeople treat Miss Emily in "A Rose for Emily" and Miss Minnie in "Dry September."

4. How does Mrs. Compson's whining throughout "That Evening Sun" fit into the White Goddess concept discussed in the commentary about the story?

5. Discuss Nancy's threatening Jesus in "That Evening Sun" if she found him cheating on her with another woman. Is it fair that Jesus threatens Nancy for doing the same? Would his killing Nancy be too extreme a punishment for her actions?

6. Does Jesus kill Nancy at the end of "That Evening Sun"? Support why you believe he does or does not.

7. Does Quentin mature during "That Evening Sun"? Support your answer by giving examples from the story.

8. Discuss Sarty's mother and aunt in "Barn Burning." What are their roles in the story?

9. Sarty is alone at the end of "Barn Burning." What do you think he will do now? What would you do?

10. Discuss Sarty's maturing in "Barn Burning." How does it differ from Quentin's in "That Evening Sun"?

11. Sarty's father, Abner, is very class conscious. Compare how class affects his, Major de Spain's, and Mr. Harris' actions.

12. In "Dry September," many characters comment on the weather. How does Faulkner characterize the weather? Does it affect people's actions in the story? Has it ever affected yours?

13. Compare Hawkshaw and McLendon in "Dry September." Is Hawkshaw's striking Will Mayes in the car comparable to McLendon's violent actions? Why does Hawkshaw strike Will?

14. Did Miss Minnie lie in "Dry September" about Will Mayes raping her? Support your answer with examples from the story.

15. Research the occurrence of lynchings and murders of blacks during Reconstruction. Has Faulkner overly fictionalized the murder of Will Mayes and the events surrounding it in "Dry September"?

16. How is "Spotted Horses" an example of American Old Southwest humor?

17. Compare V. K. Ratliff, the Texan, and Flem Snopes in "Spotted Horses." Which of these three con men is least offensive? Most offensive? Why?

18. Discuss Henry and Mrs. Armstid's relationship in "Spotted Horses." Is Henry's treatment of his wife more cruel than McLendon's treatment of his wife in "Dry September"? Why or why not?

19. How does Faulkner use animal imagery in "Spotted Horses"? Is it effective? Is it linked especially with any group of people?

20. Compare Mrs. Armstid and Mrs. Littlejohn in "Spotted Horses." Does the comparison increase or decrease your opinion of Mrs. Armstid?

21. Discuss the mob mentality in two of Faulkner's short stories. What are the characteristics he associates with this mentality?

22. In his Nobel Prize for literature acceptance speech, Faulkner says that humanity will endure. Do his short stories suggest this optimism? Which of the stories' characters most successfully endure their hardships? Which the least?