Faulkner and Fuentes (150 word blog post)

As mentioned in class, the US modernist writer William Faulkner had a gigantic influence on the generation of writers who led the Latin American literary Boom.  What thematic and stylistic continuities exist between Faulkner’s short story “A Rose for Emily” (1930) and Carlos Fuentes’s novella Aura (1962)?  Trace at least one central motif or theme.

24 thoughts on “Faulkner and Fuentes (150 word blog post)

  1. Upon starting Aura I quickly noticed Faulkner’s influence on Fuentes’s use of description. The surroundings of the narrator are brought to life through the crime scene-like imagery, analyzing all of the sights, the sounds, and feelings that made this house so creepy. When Felipe first enters Consuelo’s room I found the immense detail and slow pan across every piece of visible furniture to be quite similar to the last scene of A Rose for Emily. Although Fuentes definitely makes use of the incredibly long sentences of Faulkner, the Mexican novelist employed many short staccato sentences as well, creating a contrast which made the prose less overbearing – as Faulkner’s style without as much of this contrast can sometimes be difficult to follow. Both works create an air of mystery, raising questions and uncomfortable potential answers, building until the final scene which leave the reader a little disturbed. In this way the works are quite similar, however Fuentes’s setting the story from within the domain of the insane serves to create a much more haunting and mysterious experience.

  2. One of the biggest themes that seem to connect Faulkner’s “A Rose for Emily” and Fuentes’ Aura is a sense of nostalgia about past lives and a reverence for the elderly. Both stories feature an old lady who is either dead or close to dying, as well as an exploration of her younger years. In Faulkner’s story we learn through flashbacks about Emily’s life as part of an aristocratic Southern family in the post-Antebellum Era. In Fuentes’ story we learn about Consuelo’s life with her husband General Llorente and their struggles with infertility. Both stories possess this sort of longing for their respective bygone eras and a wistfulness for their youth. Both ladies in each story also have very intense relationships with their significant others. It should also be noted that in these stories the elderly are very much revered as their respective stories offer a reflection and a perspective on times gone by.

    • One of the most prevalent common themes between William Faulkner’s “A Rose for Emily” and Carlos Fuentes’ Aura is the connection between the living and the dead, and the young and the old. For example, in “A Rose for Emily,” Emily is pronounced as dead at the very beginning of the story, but the main body of the short story is made up of flashbacks of her life. So, even the proximity of the text connects life and death. Also, Emily is incapable with viewing Homer’s death as true death, which is why she keeps his body laid out on the bed. Likewise, in Aura, the old woman has summoned her late husband back into reality, yet he is in his youth again and views the older woman as her younger self. The connections between life and death and youth and maturity are completely intertwined in this book, as they are in Faulkner’s short story.

  3. There many themes that arose in both “A Rose for Emily” and “Aura.” Age, femininity, and the denial of death are a few themes that I noticed while reading both pieces. Denial of death is brought up in different ways in each piece, but does tie both writings together. In “A Rose for Emily,” Miss Emily’s denial begins with her father’s death, in which she refuses to believe he is dead, and clings to his corpse. The theme arises again at the end of the story, when the reader sees that Miss Emily, instead of accepting Homer’s death (at her own hand), decided to hold onto his dead body and create a shrine to it in her home in which she regularly visits. In “Aura,” although the plot twists a little more than Faulkner’s tale, the theme of denial of death is still present. Instead of Señora Consuela accepting her age and imminent death, she attempt to reincarnate a younger version of herself, and keeps most of her house and bedroom as a shrine to her late husband. The stories do differ, yet both Faulkner and Fuentes focus on the fear of death, and how to cheat it.

  4. One of the overarching themes between Faulkner’s “A Rose for Emily” and Fuentes’ “Aura” is the focus on life vs. death. In Faulkner’s story, Emily is first mentioned as dead, then the story turns to a flash back of Emily’s life which is also haunted by dead characters. Emily is presumably responsible for deaths as well, exerting her power to control life itself. In “Aura”, life and death exist together as spirits interact with humanity, specifically between Consuelo and Felipe. In both stories, death is prevalent and serves a large purpose. Each writer expands on the idea of life and death throughout the story, making the reader question the power of existence all together. Both stories express life as being a very fragile and ever changing state.

  5. One of the first themes that stuck out to me in Falukner’s “A Rose for Emily” and Fuentes’s Aura was the feeling of just being slightly unsure of what exactly was going on and an air of mystery throughout. Faulkner has many moments in his story where it seems that we know what is going, but we do not really, like when he wrote about the smell from the house, and we think that she killed him. Faulkner says later on that the smell came after he disappeared so then we know she killed him, but we never know in the moment what is going on until he reveals it. Aura is a mystery throughout the entire piece. It starts out fine with an air of general mystery until we get to the very end where we are left reeling from what exactly we just read, and what exactly the back and forth transformations of Señora Consuelo could possibly mean.

  6. In both “A Rose for Emily” and “Aura” there are many overlapping themes. One of these prevalent themes is that of denial of death. In “A Rose for Emily,” the reader first sees Miss Emily denying death when her father passes away. Miss Emily is described as clinging to his corpse, and refusing to believed that he died. Again, the reader is shown Miss Emily’s denial at the end of the tale, when Faulkner shows that Miss Emily not only killed Homer, but that his bedroom was kept as a shrine with his body still in it, and Miss Emily consistently visited it. While “Aura” was a different type of story, the theme of denial of death also arose frequently. Instead of Señora Consuelo accepting the death of her husband and her ageing/imminent death, she attempts to reincarnate a younger version of herself and her husband. Her bedroom and household is kept in a shrine-like state, constantly waiting for the younger Aura to make her presence. The elderly women in “A Rose for Emily” and “Aura” differ, but they are connected on the basis of constantly denying death.

  7. In both “Aura” and “A Rose for Emily” the reader is introduced to themes of holding onto the past. In Faulkner’s short story, the main character Emily is a metaphor for holding onto the way things used to be as the town evolves without the main character, and with Fuentes, Consuela in the story uses the younger as a vessel to channel the past and continue it into the future. This is done in ARFE in how Emily is pronounced dead in the beginning, but the story continues with the flashbacks, starting chronologically when she’s younger and then back to the point where the story originally started. Another way that this is mirrored in “Aura” is how the old lady conjured her husband and her younger self back into reality. Stylistically the long descriptive sentences show how similar the two authors are, going into deep detail to show the importance of the surroundings around them.

  8. The theme that connects Faulkner’s “A Rose for Emily” and Fuentes’ “Aura” is the past lives of the main character(s) and them trying to recreate their youth obsessively. Both stories feature an old lady either on the verge of death or dead whom were well known in their younger years, married a respectable gentleman of high society, and outlived their lover. Their younger years are explored, whether through flashback, like Miss Emily, or through their husband’s journals, such as Consuelo. They both cared about their partners; either by keeping their memories alive or by trying to have their partner by them at all times. Both their lives are shrouded in mystery, from years of staying out of the public’s eye, which gives both stories a suspenseful feeling. And finally, both of the old women in these stories have a more sinister air to them as the story continues.

  9. One of the themes that I found most interesting and relevant in William Faulkner’s “A Rose for Emily” and Carlos Fuentes’s Aura is the focus on reality vs. fantasy. Through the mysterious figure, Emily, Faulkner conveys a theme of time; how the past is an ever-present, idealized realm. Though Emily is pronounced dead in reality, the story goes on based on flashbacks of Emily’s life. The way how Emily cannot view Homer’s death as true death supports the idea that Faulkner attempts to stop time and prevent change in his fictional story, although doing so comes at the expense of human life. A similar concept is found in Fuentes’s Aura. The word “aura” means the distinctive atmosphere or quality that seems to surround and be generated by a person, thing, or place. The title of the novel gives the reader a sense of the novel’s main idea, mirrored existence. In reality, Llorente is not as young as Aura, but Llorente uses the spell to be able to be young again and to be reunited with her husband. The idea of mirrored existence is from Aura being the mirrored existence of Llorente’s (their green eyes symbolize resemblance). The front door, which symbolizes a way to a new world, apart from the real world, supports that Fuentes questions about the relationship between reality and fiction.

  10. Both texts carry a sociopolitical theme in which the past seems to haunt the present. “A Rose for Emily” tends to the legacy of the Confederacy and Aura does the same for the Mexican Empire. The stories center on decaying colonial homes filled with timeless women and veteran men. William Faulkner plays up Emily Grierson’s timelessness through reference to older and newer generations. The only proof that these generations are different is their relationship with her. They treat Colonel Sartoris’ agreement as outdated and pretend chivalry is dead, yet they find it too improper to address the stench of her house. They talk bad of her father, saying he was wrong to run men away from her, and they continue to do the exact same. Worst of all, they acknowledge she killed Homer Barron and refuse to handle it until after the funeral, as if that makes them any less complicit. They regard her as a relic to be buried with the soldiers because they believe her to be their only connection to the sins of the old south. Carlos Fuentes presents Señora Consuelo through similar extremes of old and new in General Llorente’s memoirs and Aura’s existence. When Felipe Montero is brought in to complete the memoirs, he’s confused by Señora Consuelo’s high regard for her late husband’s stories of the Maximilian Affair. He expresses personal interest in the New World and Spain’s Golden Age, positioning them as entirely different and way more interesting. The way he essentially merges with General Llorente by the end tells us that those events are one in the same and it has a potential implication of imperialism everlasting.

  11. One of the biggest overlapping themes I saw in Faulkner’s A Rose for Emily and Fuentes’ Aura is the overall scene of denial. You never quite know what is going to happen next and the way the two authors write create a feeling of confusion. Both stories have elderly women that have a major secret and go through life missing their dead husbands. In A Rose for Emily, Emily becomes a shut in who clings to the body of her dead husband. She cannot accept his dead, so she decides to hold onto the body even after it starts to rot and creates a shrine for him in the bedroom. In Aura, Senora Consuelo attempts to recreate her young self with a man that looks like her dead husband. She refused to accept her age and move on; instead tricking the man into sleeping with her to relive her past. Both stories and women are different, however, they are connected in the sense of denying their loved one’s deaths and inability to move on.

  12. Having not read Faulkner prior to “A Rose for Emily,” I found that the way he structures his sentences can be somewhat confusing. After reading Fuentes’ “Aura,” I noticed the similarities between he and Faulkner in terms of sentence structure. Both incorporate vivid imagery when describing both characters and rooms; the description of the crypt in which Homer is kept is similar to the description of the room in which Felipe will be living. I was surprised to find, though, that both seem to have a fascination with the elderly, aging, and death. Although the stories take place in drastically different settings, the central motif is death and how each character copes with the death of a loved one. Emily, while it’s believed that she killed Homer, still harbors his body in her home until her own death some 40 years later. Juxtaposed with “Aura,” Señora Consuelo doesn’t harbor her late husband’s body, but instead his spirit. Instead of looking for an individual to help with various clerical duties, she’s looking for a body that her husband’s spirit may reside in. Both “A Rose for Emily” and “Aura” deal with an underlying lack of acceptance of death, and the need for the dead to persist into the future.

  13. There are two main similarities that I noticed between Faulkner’s “A Rose For Emily” and Fuentes’s “Aura”. The first is a lack of acceptance of death, and an inability to move on from the past. In Faulkner’s short story, Emily refuses to accept that Homer is dead and holds onto his dead body in her house. Prior to that, she was unable to accept that her father was dead and clung to his corpse. In Fuentes’s novella, Consuelo refuses to accept her husband’s death and somehow, whether it’s in her head or what, brings him back to life as his younger self, and brings her younger self back as well. The second similarity that I noticed was that the two were very close stylistically. They both use intense, drawn out description to create a creepy aura that permeates throughout the story, culminating in an ending that is unexpected and certainly unsettling.

  14. Both “Aura” and a “A Rose for Emily” deal with characters who are stuck in the past. In “Aura” Felipe is a historian asked to document the life of the general. Emily hadn’t left her house in years before her death and when she did interact with outsiders she was very out of touch. The neighborhood in which Felipe is asked to reside is known for a mix of old and new homes. In Emily’s neighborhood “only Miss Emily’s house was left,” as a relic of the past “ lifting its stubborn and coquettish decay above the cotton wagons and the gasoline pumps-an eyesore among eyesores.” Both households are struggling to accept the encroaching modernity. Both Emily and Señora Consuelo are unable to have children, Emily due to a lack of partner, and Señora Consuelo due to infertility, as a result, they cling to the men in their lives, even once those men are deceased. Emily keeps the body of Homer while Consuelo turns Felipe into her old lover.

  15. The way in which Aura unfolds is chilling, surprising, and open ended. We don’t know exactly what will become of our characters. But we do know that the cycle of Consuelo bringing Aura forth will most likely continue until the end of Felipe’s life. This ever present theme of yearning for youth to overcome the law of impermanence is present in both works. With Miss Emily wanting to create a relationship with a man, but being haunted by the ghost of her father she decides to kill her lover. Doing this, in a way, freezes time. Leaving her house in the exact way as it was seen 10 years ago, 20 years ago, 30 years ago, is a testament to freezing time. Miss Emily’s house is also the only one of its kind left in the area, all around her are symbols of the new age while she lives in the past. Consuelo’s house is the exact same testament to time moving, with encroaching development, the presence of mildew, and the state of the house all point to time standing still. Consuelo and Miss Emily are fighting to live in a stasis of a possible “better time”.

  16. “A Rose for Emily” by William Faulkner and “Aura” by Carlos Fuentes were written in the Gothic style. When reading both pieces, there is this spooky feeling and element of mystery and suspense as each writing progresses. Even in the descriptions of the houses in each story, the reader can gets this imagery of homes that were once grand but now, dark and aged. Age is also a shared theme amongst the two. Both Consuelo and Emily are older females, who seemed to be almost frozen in time. The world is continuing but they seem to be stuck in a time before tragedy events happened in their life. Emily and Consuelo both loss men who were close to them and appears to not want to let them go. Emily tries to act as if her father was still alive even days after his death. Consuelo tries to keep her husband alive by having his memoir published. Lastly, both writing shares the element of discovery, where a person/people outside of the home find out a portion of what has happened inside the homes that was unknown to the outside world while still leaving an element of uncertainty and a need for an explanation to what exactly has taken place there.

  17. One of the main similarities that I have drawn from reading both Faulkner’s “A Rose for Emily” and Fuentes’ “Aura” is the manner in which they describe morbidity, death, and their coexistence with the living. In Fuentes’, we see this description of living in morbidity when Felipe enters Señora Consuelo’s room, wherein he he finds her frail body praying and describes the room as crypt-like The theme of dinginess and darkness is carried through the house, as though Aura and Consuelo are still living in the darkness left to them by her late husband, but they do so willingly. In Faulkner’s case, we see this connection of death and life in part 5, after Emily’s death. After the townspeople attend her funeral, they make their way to the room upstairs that is guessed to be Homer’s. When they enter, the room is described as, “[a] thin, acrid pall as of the tomb seemed to lie everywhere upon this room decked and furnished as for a bridal…The man himself lay in the bed.” Emily’s lover Homer had been poisoned and kept in this room to decay, but what completes this theme is that next to his body, there is the indentation of a body next to him in the bed with Emily’s hair on the pillow.

  18. Carlos Fuentes and William Faulkner use the exploration of time attributed to modernism throughout their stories. Both Fuentes and Faulkner write about strong female characters who are unwilling or incapable of letting go of the past. However the past which they are incapable of letting go does not only involve their personal pasts, but also a bygone era represented by the strong male characters to which they are still attached, although both are dead. Faulkner’s old South is revealed as a decaying, but still overbearing presence whose legacy is unwilling to move on. Similarly, Fuentes past idealizes a Latin America which is not as glorious as Senora Consuelo wishes it was. Both Faulkner and Fuentes utilize their main characters’ inability to relinquish the past as symbols representing fragments of society who glorify pasts.
    Faulkner’s Miss Emily was still haunted by her overbearing father and the idea of a lover which never truly existed. Faulkner is able to maintain mystery by twisting time between the present in which Miss Emily is dead and we discover she poisoned her imagined lover, Homer Barron, and displayed his body in a supposed wedding bed. Earlier Faulkner had explained that Homer Barron’s was homosexual and, therefore, was not truly her lover. Additionally, Faulkner goes even farther back in time explaining that her father, Colonel Grierson had chased off of her potential suitors leaving her to be an old-maid. Miss Emily is unable to leave the past, sleeping besides the corpse until she finally has the top floor sealed off to hide her terrible secret. Similarly, Carlos Fuentes distorts time throughout Aura in an effort to reveal the inner life and mystery of his main character, Senora Consuelo.
    Carlos Fuentes uses time to evoke confusion and horror exemplifying the distortion of memory. Senora Consuelo, through the use of the occult, which entails the torture of cats, is able to create a younger self, an “aura” of her former self if you will to prevent the past from dying. She is obsessed with preserving the past. Her desire to have her deceased husband journals translated and her glorification of these journals is made evident throughout the story. Additionally, she longs to be with her husband so badly that she drugs Felipe, allowing for the mind boggling deception which makes him believe her incarnation of Aura is true and eventually allows him to accept the role as her dead husband. While both of these tales are very fascinating and quite horrific, I believe they represent something greater and that Faulkner and Fuentes are using modernism to express and mask a greater theme of society’s unwillingness to let go and change.

  19. Although the works are very different, there are a few common connections that can be made between both. In Aura, there is a fascination and nostalgia for the dead and the elderly. The readers get to know the elderly, Senora and the General, through Felipe’s eyes and his narration of their past experiences. In the same way Emily’s past life is described through the people of the town, the reader gets a kind of biased opinion of her. Both Fuentes and Faulkner use dark descriptions to depict the women protagonists and create a mysterious aura around them. In both stories there is the element of the unknown, and the reader has to put pieces together based on what is described about the women from other characters perspectives.

  20. There are many shared themes between Faulkner’s “A Rose for Emily” and Fuentes’ “Aura.” I feel like the main theme between the two is the relationship that the living have with death as a concept. In the beginning of Faulkner’s work we know that Emily is dead; consequently we can only see into her life through flashbacks. It is in these flashbacks that we witness Emily’s inability to conceptualize and deal with death–which is evident in her keeping both her Father’s and Homer’s bodies. The keeping of Homer’s body is especially prevalent because he died at Emily’s hand. Similarly, in Aura, Señora Consuelo in denial about the death of her husband, as well as her inevitable death. She finds a way to reincarnate both of them as means to have another life together.

    Another similarity between the two works is the format of the sentences. Both Fuentes and Faulkner use elaborate language and long sentences in order to create intricate images for their audiences. This can cause both confusion and an immersive world for their readers.

  21. While reading Fuentes’ Aura and Faulkner’s “A Rose for Emily,” I recalling feeling a sense of dread and eeriness. The two works actively manipulate the theme of suspense. While Socrates’ lectures on the necessary motions of tragic/drama plays, require a resolution, Faulkner and Fuentes do not offer relief at the end of their stories, which is the most haunting part.
    While I sense that Miss Emily was a bit off and distant and I suspected her to be a murderer of some sorts, the manner in which she executed her necrophilia is disturbing. And in the case of Felipe, I initially had a feeling of sadness that we were going lose our protagonist so soon, because I was convinced the ad was a setup for a quick murder, but the way in which the steeling of his soul takes form is unnerving.
    Fuentes and Faulkner manipulate the typical tropes of horror just enough to make the reader think they are privy to the drama, but they disrupt the expected flow of emotions, true horror.

  22. Fuentes takes Faulkner’s anecdotal story of an outdated relic to new heights. As you all have observed, the theme of living in the past is the central message of both “A Rose For Emily” and “Aura.” In class, we toyed with the concept of Emily’s necrophilia. We don’t associate sexuality with the elderly, which is precisely why some of you took it Emily and Homer’s relationship as platonic affection. But Emily’s room was described as bridal, which insinuates consummation. Working under the assumption of Emily’s necrophilia, “Aura” implies the same in the overtly sexual relationship between Felipe and Consuelo, who might as well be a corpse. The necrophilia metaphor is used to display the pointlessness of fixating on an infertile object; the past can’t be revived and those who attempt to do so, do so in vain. Emily and Consuelo’s attempts to build a façade of their youth (i.e. fertility) ends in the same way: a jarring return to the reality of the present.

  23. Thematically, both stories involve a house shrouded in mystery, and in both stories, the houses are introduced as a subject of interest early on in the story. In “A Rose For Emily,” it is mentioned within the first few sentences that the women of the town were fascinated to see the inside of Emily’s house, and in “Aura”, Felipe has to enter a dark, old house to talk to the old woman about the job. He points out that there is no phone number so he must go to the house, as if this is unusual, and the condition on which he receives the job is that he must stay in the woman’s house to write the memoir. In both stories, these circumstances set up the house to be important to the setting and plot. The houses both become characters in themselves, with their own stories to tell. Both Fuentes and Faulkner are incredibly detailed in their descriptions of the homes. They are both old and decrepit but carry a history of a once glorious past that is now gone. Both stories contain elements of horror, especially surrounding what the house may be hiding- in Faulkner’s story, the house is literally hiding Homer’s body, and in Fuentes’, the house is hiding the identity and mysteries of Aura.

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