Violence is a serious matter society has to consider. Such circumstance may be difficult to handle especially if the causes are personal and an outside party who would like to be an instrument for the achievement of peace gets caught in leaving private issues to the people involved. However, violence usually affects the society so that citizens should be more concerned about such events rather than give a dismissing shrug. In the fight for a peaceful environment, there are a lot of things to consider like the private lives of people, the seriousness and sensitivity of issues, the law and human rights. Therefore, it is not an easy task even for law enforcers to be involved in certain violent acts that could be potentially considered criminal as in the case of such portrayal in William Faulkner short story A Rose for Emily.
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Marvin Eugene Wolfgang, the most influential criminologist in the English speaking world had his interest in the subcultures of violence where he theorizes the origins of violence (Silverman). One of the theories as observed from the high rates of crime in Southern America is based on the values and norms which either support violence or does not prohibit such (Lee & Bartkowski). From this perspective, it could be fairly said that some of the elements of the aforementioned short story are accurate. For instance, when Emily bought arsenic from the druggist, the townspeople were quick to suspect that she would kill herself and yet did not do anything to prevent the woman from doing so, rather were quite agreeable of the idea. Such a reaction seemed to give a thumb up to suicide and encourage a person that killing one self would be best when all is not going well. Emily might have portrayed disagreeable characters that might have distanced the people from minding her business however the situation already spoke of death which should arouse involvement of the community people in whatever means in order to extend support. Nevertheless, no such action was displayed but with the values of the townspeople to personal matters being left alone to the persons involved, Emily suspected suicide might have been easily accepted had it materialize (Kennedy).
On another angle, in the murder of Homer Barron, the neighbors and law enforcers of the town have been quite lenient with an investigation regarding the foul smell that came from Emily house. They knew that the woman bought some arsenic just a few days before the foul smell filled the neighborhood air and that they even suspected she would kill herself. When they still found evidences of her being alive when her place got smelly, they should have suspected about the smell and spent more serious time considering what might have happened. The absence of Barron after he was last seen entering Emily house was totally scratched from the picture which shows how her people could easily think highly of a noblesse oblige, that she could not possibly kill a northerner who they supposed was married to her. This, and the aforementioned prospect of Emily killing herself brings about the picture of the people in her town where they take separately murder in different levels that is, Emily can possibly kill herself and that is fine with them and Emily cannot possibly kill Barron which is revealed in the end was what happened in the story (Kennedy).
Looking at the effects of the values and norms of the people in A Rose for Emily, a crime was performed and was never found out until the perpetrator died. The words of Judge Stevens, “Dammit, sir, will you accuse a lady to her face of smelling bad?” seemed to be more of an attempt to protect Emily than to show respect to her. It is true that circumstantial evidences might have been known for suspicion and there is also the consideration of the limitations of the law and enforcers however, there was also no evidence of some extended effort to know about the foul smell that was affecting the neighbors because they seemed to be afraid of the woman. This portrays the theory of Wolfgang that some values could enable violence no matter how respectful and considerate a person could be thought about his attitude towards other people. The inability of the law enforcers on imposing the rules and regulations on Emily gave her the courage to commit a crime and have it unknown by getting the people out of her residence, where she committed murder. On another perspective, in the efforts of Emily father to protect her from her suitors, she fell for the least person she was expected to have been involved with. In addition, Coronel Sartoris’ efforts to protect her family, he invented the story that her father helped the town financially so that as a way of showing gratitude, when was exempted from paying her taxes. Such manners of protection have been quite extreme, taking into consideration only one family and the effect was destructive. When Emily was able to confirm the extent of her power, she went to the point of killing her lover.
1. Faulkner, William. A Rose for Emily”. Literature: An to Fiction, Poetry, Drama, and Writing. Ed. X.J. Kennedy, Dana Gioa. Upper Saddle River: Pearson, 2012. 29-35. Print.
2. Lee, Matthew R. and John P. Bartkowski. Civic Participation, Regional Subcultures, and Violence: The Differential Effects of Secular and Religious Participation on Adult and Juvenile Homicide. Mississippi State University, 2004. Web. February 19, 2012.
3. Silverman, Robert A. Marvin Eugene Wolfgang. Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society. Vol. 148. No. 4, 2004. Web. February 19, 2012.