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Short paper discussing SETTING

rollagasper 5 / 4  
May 1, 2007   #1
Hi! I had to write a short paper discussing the setting of my ISU short story, "That Evening Sun" by William Faulkner. This is my first time writing a paper on the setting, so i was quite unsure as to how to go about writing. Please give me some opinions!

Willaim Faulkner's short story That Evening Sun is set in a southern United States town called Jefferson, in the early 1900s. This setting is crucial in establishing and justifying the townspeople's racist attitudes and actions. The main character in the story is Nancy, a coloured female servant for the Compson family. As a standard of racial segregation, Nancy must live separately from white people; her cabin and the Compsons's house are well separated by a few minutes walk, a ditch, and a fence. Nancy receives little respect in society because of her status as a black woman. The town's deacon uses Nancy as a sexual object, and then kicks her teeth out in rage when she demands payment. The townspeople casually accept such unjust treatment because of the racial distinction existing in the South. Nancy is so accustomed to being debased that she herself believes that she is worthless. Several times in the story she utters "I am nothing but a nigger," once even claiming that "God knows."

Racism also explains the lack of concern towards Nancy as she grows frantic in fear for her life. Mr. Compson is the only one who makes a slight attempt to alleviate Nancy's fear. The rest of the Compson family are apathetic to Nancy's concerns and selfishly dwell on their own petty problems. The story is told in the point of view of Quentin Compson, 15 years after the incident occurred. In creating this time gap, Faulkner emphasizes the narrator's detached attitude towards a black servant like Nancy. In the end of the story, Mr. Compson and the children leave Nancy alone and scared in her dark cabin. Nancy is scared for her life, but Quentin can hardly care for her safety; instead, he wonders who will do his laundry if she is killed. This sinister ending hints Nancy's death and cynically illustrates Nancy's insignificance in society.

The majority of the story takes place at night, in the dark. The darkness creates mood and is a backdrop that accompanies the looming threat of Nancy's death. The darkness is also something feared by Nancy and the Compson children alike. The children's fears, however, are pathetic when contrasted to that of Nancy's. The children accuse one another of being a "scairy cat" and are afraid of being chastised by their parents for leaving the house at night without permission. Nancy is scared because she predicts that her husband is hiding in the dark, waiting to slit her throat once she is alone. Through contrast, Faulkner points out the lack of meaning of the aristocracy and the harsh consequences of racial discrimination.

Does the concluding sentence even make sense? It's a bit late and I had a hard time trying to put into words what i have in mind! "The lack of meaning of the aristocracy" is a bit vague and unclear, maybe?
EF_Team2 1 / 1708  
May 2, 2007   #2

I think you've done an excellent job with explaining the importance of setting! I understand what you were trying to say with "the lack of meaning of the aristocracy" and I also agree that it sounds just a little awkward. What about saying "the meaninglessness of the aristocracy" or "the hypocrisy of the aristocracy"?

Is this the entire essay? If so, you might want to mention setting again, in your last sentence, to reiterate your thesis.

Good work!


Sarah, EssayForum.com

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