A Farewell to Miss Emily

Ernest Hemingway and William Faulkner both had a remarkable way of presenting their work utilizing various rhetorical strategies. Work such as “Hills Like White Elephants”, and “A Farewell to Arms” show various methods of rhetoric used by Ernest Hemingway. Ernest Hemingway, in his writing tends to include different languages, a lot of dialogue and critical description of surroundings in the story-more specifically the weather conditions. Hemingway generally tells his stories in the third person, and uses a lot of terminology that fits in with the setting and current situations his characters are in.In many cases, the reader feels connected to the setting based upon all the terminology used. Short stories such as “A Rose for Emily”, and “Barn Burning” depict rhetorical devices used by Faulkner in adding to his stories. Faulkner focused more on detail within each moment of the story, and uses little dialogue. Faulkner unravels the events of the story, and reveals the character’s with intense detail that almost slips the reader’s mind. Falkner focuses on elaborating the many events that led up to the story, rather than the events of the story. Therefore, both Ernest Hemingway and William Faulkner play with the reader’s brain within the rhetorical strategies they exhibit. Hemingway tends to use natural settings, dialogue and critical detail of the surroundings as devices. On top of that, Hemingway also has a way of closing things off that provoke a hurricane of critical thought within the reader-specifically his ending to “A Farewell to Arms”. William Faulkner embodies the moment in which his story takes place through rich details, and little dialogue. Faulkner allows the reader to journey through the story step by step with the characters, which inspires connection from the reader to character.

            Ernest Hemingway wrote both “Farewell to Arms” , and “Hills Like White Elephants.”  “Farewell to Arms” takes place on an Italian Army base during World War I. In this novel, Hemingway includes English, Italian, and French. Much of the inclusion of foreign languages occurs after someone has spoken in English. Since the protagonist, Lieutenant Henry’s main language is English, the story is primarily told in English. In the event of a character entering the story who does not know English, the dialogue takes place in half English half Italian. When a character who is French entered the story as well, the brief interaction recorded took place in half English, half French.

The inclusion of foreign languages seems to take place when an outsider enters the story. For example, in “Farewell to Arms” when a main character speaks in Italian, all Hemingway says is “they said in Italian.” However, when an outsider who is not very important comes into the story, their dialogue is written in the language native to the setting of the story. An example of this  is the little major, who helped the injured but spoke in French. The little major was not critical to the events of the story, therefore since he spoke French most of his dialogue was in French. Ca va bien? Ca va. I have brought him in, the tall Englishman said in Italian. (Hemingway, A Farewell to Arms, 58-59) “‘So long’, I said in dialect. ‘Ciao’, he repeated” This interaction implies that first, Lieutenant Henry spoke in Italian, and then later Hemingway added in the Italian language.

Another example of Hemingway's merge of language is in the story “Hills like White Elephants” which takes place in a small cafe in Spain. A couple is sitting at a table talking in English, when a waitress comes by and asks if they want anything. This interaction is written in Spanish; both the waitress and the girl talk in Spanish in this scene.“‘Dos Cervezas,’ the man said into the curtain.’”  “Big ones?” a woman asked from the doorway.” (Hills Like White Elephants, Hemingway)

Hemingway focuses a lot on the outer surroundings of the characters, almost as much as he focuses on the characters themselves. An example of this is the inclusion of the weather conditions throughout “A Farewell To Arms”, and “Hills Like White Elephants”. In “A Farewell to Arms”, rain is a recurring weather condition within the novel. Rain seemed to have occurred whenever something unfortunate occur. The novel itself ends in rain, as Lieutenant Henry walks out in the rain after his lover, Miss. Barkley and their infant child died. The image of dark skies, and rain connect with feelings of sadness and sorrow. Hemingway made sure to include rain within the novel in order to emphasize the intense sorrow the characters felt in each setting involving rain.

As an addition to the inclusion of rain, Catherine Barkley who was Lieutenant Henry’s lover throughout the novel had a hatred, and fear of the rain. Catherine’s resentment for rain foreshadowed the ending of the novel in a way. She feared rain due to the illness that could come from it, and how deadly rain could be in the winter time. In Catherine facing the “rain” and overcoming her fear at times she prepares for her final battle; childbirth- which of course ultimately ends with her death and a rain shower closing the novel. But after I had got them out and shut the door and turned off the light it wasn’t any good. It was like saying goodbye to a statue. After a while I went out and left the hospital and walked back to the hotel in the rain. (Hemingway, A Farewell to Arms, 332)

Hemingway, in “A Farewell to Arms” also included many slang phrases that would have been used during the World War I time period. The banters between two characters were at times criticism on the war. Discussing hatred and annoyance toward the war allowed the characters to connect in the sense that none of them wanted to be involved in it. The phrase “Goddam” is often thrown out when referring to the war as a method of illustrating frustration.

Faulkner in his writing tends to be more detail oriented, with little conversation. His stories are usually a recollection of past events, mainly memories of events that have occurred prior to the beginning of the story. Although Falkner does not use nearly as much dialogue as Hemingway, he sculpts his stories in rich detail and utilizes loaded words to make a point. Barn Burning uses a lot of dark descriptions and allusions that draw in the reader.

The boy crouches on his nail keg at the back of the crowded room, knew he smelled cheese, or more: from where he sat he could see the racked shelves close-packed with the solid, squat, dynamic shaped of tin cans whose labels his stomach read. (Barn Burning, Falkner, 2-5)            

Falkner in this passage gave background and allowed a passage into the feelings and mind of the main character. The dialogue, however is mainly brief and consists of interactions between the few characters in the story. This strategy allows the reader to understand the story without needing dialogue. Although Falkner is mainly detail oriented, he does include some dialogue in his writing.  “’ But what proof have you, Mr. Harris’” (Barn Burning, Falkner, 14)

This was a short interaction between a boy and the adult. There is not nearly as much to the conversation in Falkner’s dialogue as Hemingway used. Falkner also used some slang that worked with the time period the story takes place in. Another example in “Barn Burning” is the inclusion of the “n-word”. Although that word has a horrible meaning and history, it still adds to the story. People in the time that the story was published used this word all the time, where in today’s society the use of that word is strongly frowned upon and banned in many places.

“A Rose for Emily” illustrates more of Falkner’s darker themes used in his writing. The story opens when Miss. Emily dies.  The duration of the story is a recollection of the events of Miss. Emily’s life and what led up to her death. The entire story is about how Miss. Emily murdered her husband, though it implies throughout most of the story that she was suicidal. The story was set in a dark time, describing how Miss. Emily used to “spoon” her dead husband’s body.

For a long while we just stood there, looking at the profound and fleshless grin. The body had apparently once lain in the attitude of an embrace, but now the long sleep that outlasts love, that conquers even the grimace of love, had cuckolded him. What was left of him, rotted beneath what was left of the nightshirt, had become inextricable from the bed he lay; and upon him and upon the pillow beside him lay that even coating of the patient and biding dust. (A Rose for Emily, Faulkner)

This passage, from “A Rose for Emily” allows intense description into the scene of the body. It almost does not come to the reader at first glance. Faulkner in his writing does not ever flat out explain to the reader what is happening. Throughout his story telling. Faulkner allows such rich detail, the reader must take a few moments to think about what was written before fully processing it. Many students who pick up work by Faulkner find themselves needing to re-read the text and discuss it before understanding it.

In comparison both Hemingway and Faulkner included darker elements of life in their story. Falkner mainly focused on darker tales such as stories of death, murder and betrayal. Hemingway in both “Hills like White Elephants”, and “A Farewell to Arms” wrote about abortions and miscarriages. “A Farewell to Arms” is a story of the lives of both Lieutenant Henry and Catherine Barkley, and how their relationship prospers through the war. These elements are due to hardships faced by the author’s in their real life. Outside of their writing both Falkner and Hemingway suffered hardships as anyone else did. Both lived in times of intense change, Hemingway in the “roaring” twenties, and Faulkner in the great depression era. Their writing was used as a channel for their emotions and as a way to present their perspectives on darker elements of life, as used in their stories. Their writing, reflecting their feelings outside of the literature is perhaps the most significant rhetorical strategy used by both writers.

Hemingway, who was himself a veteran knew a lot about the ins and outs of the war. Being that Hemingway personally was rejected by a nurse on his base whom he was in love with, his tales of rejection and relationship issues hit home. In “A Farewell to Arms” and “Hills like White Elephants”, essentially the same events occur. A man who was serving in the army falls in love with a young girl and impregnates her. The only difference between the two pieces is the fact the “A Farewell to Arms” was portrayed as a tragedy miscarriage. “Hills like White Elephants” was more of a mutual decision for the abortion to occur.

Faulkner, growing up in the nineteen thirties knew much about the proper behaviors of people. “A Rose For Emily” is about a woman who was born in the Civil War era. Miss. Emily, the main character acted differently than other women of her time did. Ms. Emily was rather anti-social and had strange relations with her father and her husband. The behaviors of Miss. Emily were Faulkner’s ways of defying the norms of his time. By creating a character who acted nothing as one of her age and setting should, Faulkner created this elusive character that left readers wanting more.

In essence, both Hemingway and Faulkner presented their rhetorical strategies in different ways. Faulkner included intense details to describe the events of the story, where Hemingway included more dialogue to move the story along. In the end however, both used connections to their personal life and the world around them at the time of writing to personalize their work.


"In "A Rose for Emily," What Is the Connection between the Title of the Story and the Content of the Story?" Enotes.com. Enotes.com, n.d. Web. 28 Mar. 2017.

"William Faulkner - Biographical." Nobelprize.org. Nobel Prize, n.d. Web. 28 Mar. 2017.

"Those who stand for nothing fall for anything"- Alexander Hamilton 

 I am an eighteen year old who loves Alexander Hamilton, writing, books, music and brains. 

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