Mr. Grierson in the short story A Rose for Emily and the writer, Father in Superman, and Me are two characters who hold the same place in society but come out as two different individuals. For Grierson, he’s the father of Emily, the heroine, and he’s really influential in the life of her daughter. He holds a very critical role in society and in the narrative, since his values and actions form the rest of the life of his daughter, Emily, and eventually the story. In other words, he’s the architect of how the plot unfolds and he’s laying the groundwork for everything. Despite the fact that the reader is not exposed sufficiently to this man, his presence is looming even in death. By looking at how Emily turns out, the reader and the community clearly sees his lasting influence on Emily. Even in death, his presence is still looming in the story because in various symbols that are within the house that Emily lives in. for example, he is in the Crayon Portrait on the easel in the parlor or the whip in the house that he used to chase away Emily_x0092_s suitors (Faulkner 7). As a result, in life and in death, his presence is always looming.
The same looming presence and effect is what is seen when it comes to the narrator in Superman and Me by Alexie. To start with, it is the father than buys the narrator the particular book from which the narrator learns to read. Despite the fact that this father is poor, there is one thing that he passes on to the narrator: the love for books (Alexie 1). He would read anything ranging from murder mysteries, biographies, gangster epics and spy thrillers among others.
His love for books therefore is a looming presence whether in himself or in his son_x0092_s life, the son who adopts the culture of reading from him. One thing that strikes the reader is that despite him being poor by most standards; his house is full of books that he buys everywhere. The narrator loved his father and found himself loving books too from a younger age due to the influence that he had in his formative ages. When the story is told, it is not explicitly explained whether the father to the narrator is still alive or he is dead but his looming presence is everywhere in the life of the narrator just like Mr. Grierson is in the life of Emily.
Despite that both Mr. Grierson and the narrator_x0092_s father occupy the same niche is society and in the lives of their children, they are completely different people. Mr. Grierson is a controlling figure father whose legacy is that of a controlling father. It is due to his controlling nature that he shapes his daughter exactly the way that he wants her to become. For example, he deliberately thwarts the any attempt by Emily to find a husband because he wants to have Emily in his control. In one instance, he takes the whip that he used to keep close by and chased off suitors. His lasting legacy is that of Emily, completely deluded and psychotic. His presence is enormous only that sadly; it is the presence of control in all aspects.
It is due to this controlling nature of Mr. Grierson that Emily is forever unable to have a normal relationship. In the end, she is unable to marry anyone. Even when Homer Baron comes along, a fairly handsome man with a good sense of humor, she cannot have a meaningful relationship with him and rather chooses to poison him and seal his corpse in the attic bedroom (Volpe 291). Such is the devastating nature of the controlling nature of Mr. Grierson and his legacy. His lasting impression is that of a fiercely controlling nature, probably the only attribute that really rubs on his daughter and his lasting legacy as his daughter becomes similarly controlling and psychotic until the day she dies of old age.
It is no coincidence that the symbol that the townspeople and the reader come to associate with Mr. Grierson is that of a whip, a tool of control that since the ancient times is associated with whipping people and animals into line (Volpe 291). In most times, a whip comes into use when someone is about to force another person into blind loyalty through brutal force and it therefore featured strongly in slavery as one man sought to dominate the other through force or threat of force.
On the other hand, the narrator_x0092_s father in Sherman_x0092_s Superman and Me is never at any one time controlling; rather, he is persuasive and influential. His whole life is one that appeals to the reader and the narrator so much so that he needs not use coercion on anyone anyone or use any force on the narrator as his life itself is one of influence. For example, early in life, the narrator gets to understand that his father was one of the very few Indians who went to school on purpose.
Moreover, his choice of books is a symbol of freedom in itself because he reads a wide variety of genres than range from fiction to non-fiction, westerns, gangster epics and murder mysteries among others (Alexie 1). Is no wonder that his lasting legacy is one that is a complete contrast to Mr. Grierson as he leaves a legacy of reading and freedom? In the end, the narrator is left with the joy of learning to read and in fact reading aloud while on the other end, Mr. Grierson had left a legacy of mental torture and psychopathy.
There is also a significant contrast in the symbols that are associated between these two important men in the novel. While Mr. Grierson_x0092_s symbol is that of a whip, the symbol of the narrator_x0092_s father is that of books. The books are to be found everywhere in his house. Books are associated with freedom, especially the freedom of the mind.
From the looming presence and influence of the two fathers, it is clear the fathers and in general parents, play a very important role in the lives of their children. It is especially significant that the parents influence the lives of their children at a very important age when the children are just learning to understand the world and the parents become the figures who interpret the world for the children. Moreover, the influence of parents does not end with their demise because they are able to continue to influence their children even when they are long gone because their influence on their children is long term.
Alexie, Sherman. “Superman and Me.” Los Angeles Times 19 April 1998. Print.
Faulkner, William. A Rose for Emily. New York, NY: Perfection Learning Corporation, 1990. Print.
Volpe, Edmond Loris. A reader’s guide to William Faulkner : the short stories. Syracuse, NY : Syracuse University Press, 2004. Print.
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