In William Faulkner’s “A Rose for Emily” and Flannery O’Connor’s “Good Country People”, the characters and theme are developed through irony, suspense, and symbolism. Some readers might find the title of Faulkner’s story, “A Rose for Emily,” ironic. As a Symbol, the rose usually signifies romantic love. Assuming that Faulkner is well aware of a rose’s symbolic meanings, why does he wish to name his story about a doomed and perverse love affair? Faulkner causes the reader to believe this is a classic love story. Faulkner then overturns the reader’s expectations by offering an unconventional heroine. Generally love stories involve a young woman, pure and beautiful, worthy of receiving love. In this story, however, the heroine is old and
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(Faulkner 684) This is ironic in the sense that she had never given a reason for the poison, but “For rats” was written on the box. Emily thinks of Homer as exactly that, a rat. Emily killed Homer so that he wouldn’t leave her and she took vows that said, “Till death do us part”, but it is death that keeps them together until she dies. When the townspeople enter the home for the funeral they find a secret room. In this room is Homer Barron and when the townspeople look closer they find “a long strand of iron-gray hair.” (Faulkner 687) By situating the lover’s corpse next to “a long strand of iron-gray hair” belonging to Emily, Faulkner offers a situational irony: love, for Emily, flourishes only after her lover is deceased.
In Flannery O’Connor’s “Good Country People”, irony is a fundamental part of the story. The characters’ names themselves have irony. Joy Hopewell’s name was chosen by her mother because she believed Joy was the most beautiful name and that she was the ‘joy’ of her life. "Her name was really Joy but as soon as she was 21 and away from home, she had it legally changed. Mrs. Hopewell was certain that she had thought and thought until she had hit upon the ugliest name in any language. Then she had gone and had the beautiful named, Joy, changed without telling her mother until after she had done it. Her legal name was Hulga." (O’Connor 508) Mrs. Hopewell’s name is