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Free «Major Themes of the Works “A Rose for Emily” and “Astronomer’s Wife”» Essay Sample

“A Rose for Emily” is a short story written by William Faulkner. The short story has five sections. Section one recounts Emily Grierson’s death and her fully attended funeral. Section two of the short story recounts how Emily had defied an official query on behalf of the town dwellers. This is when the town dwellers had noticed a bad smell stemming from her home. The smell was that of her dead father. In this section, we are notified of Emily’s marital status, she has been single even as she turned thirty. This is because her father kept chasing away her suitors who use to come by. Section three narrates of Emily’s predicaments. She is suffering from a long illness since her father died. Section four narrates of a gripping fear that has engulfed the town. Everyone is afraid for Emily. They think she will kill herself. It is in this section that Emily dies aged seventy-four. Section five recounts what happened after Emily dies including the funeral ceremony. The major themes in the short story are tradition versus change and the power of death. Emily is the main character in the story (William 44).



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“The Astronomer’s Wife” is a short story by Kay Boyle. The main character of the story is Mrs. Ames. The story revolves around her hence she is the center of attention in the story. She is the wife of an astronomer and acts as her link to the today’s world. She, however, shows antipathy towards her husband. This is because her husband is always busy and immersed in his work that she forgets about her and she means little to him. She gets attracted to a plumber who she thinks is a practical man. She compares the plumber to her husband and realizes that the men are different. Mrs. Ames, the protagonist of the story, transforms in a small but insightful way through her meeting with the plumber who had come to repair the blocked drain. Mrs. Ames gets attracted to the plumber because of his physical features and how he treats her (Robert 45).

The two main themes of the story are epiphany and change. Epiphany also means discovery, and in the story it occurs when Katherine Ames realizes what her husband has done to her. Ames’ husband does not satisfy her needs and is dull in their marriage. She desires for change in her marriage. The plumber is a symbol of change in the story. His introduction in the story creates a change that Mrs. Ames has been yearning for. The plumber also invokes Katherine Ames’s epiphany in the story. He also creates a contrast between the varying characters of men (Philip 46).

Relation between the two Short Stories

The two short stories share a common theme. The main theme that appears is the theme of change. The writers of the two short stories have used symbols which develop the theme of change. The symbols include even human characters, whose presence mark change in the stories. In the short story “A Rose for Emily”, the theme develops through the life of Emily. Emily is however opposed to change, and she goes to the extent of killing his suitor, Mr. Homer Barron. She is a symbol of tradition, and her refusal to adapt to modern life justifies her traditionalism. The dust in her house is a symbol of how adamant she is to adapt to change. Homer Barron, a foreman who hails from the north, is a symbol of change. He was invited to the town to help in clearing the sidewalks. The town people were dynamic and had adapted to change and modern life hence inviting Barron’s company. She got attracted to Emily, and here we see two opposite symbols of change colliding. Emily was an antagonist when it came to change, while Barron was the protagonist in change. Emily’s reluctance to change led him to killing Barron, who was facilitating change in the town (William 55).

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“The Astronomer’s Wife”has included the theme of change through various people and symbols. The plumber is a symbol of change. He was invited to repair the drainage which was blocked. His presence invoked the change which Mrs. Ames so much desired. He is a contrast to Mr. Ames who was dull and unfulfilling in his marriage. The clogged drainage symbolizes Mrs. Ames life which was dull and without happiness. The repair of the drainage symbolizes the new life that Mrs. Ames would be entitled to if she realized that her marriage was not bringing in happiness. Mrs. Ames develops the theme of change in the story, especially when she gets an epiphany of her husband. Mr. Ames, on the other hand, is dull and he reflects the dull side of change. Mrs. Ames’ acceptance to enter the basement with the plumber is a symbol of the path to change (Philip 55).


The two short stories are entertaining and have been creatively written. They have a common theme which is developed by the characters in the story. One unique feature of the two stories is that the main characters are female. The common theme in the two short stories is change. The two main characters have been used to develop this theme differently. Emily is the antagonist when it comes to change, while Mrs. Ames is the protagonist. Dust, a blocked drainage, Homer Barron and the plumber are all symbols that have been used to develop the theme of change in the two stories.


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