"Happen? What the hell difference does it make? Are you going to let the black sons get away with it until one really does it?"
McLendon asks this question of the skeptical men in the barber shop, in response to their suggestion to stay calm and figure out if something actually happened between Will Mayes and Miss Minnie Cooper. The blatant absurdity of his argument ironically serves to rile up the men. It is clear he just wants to act violently, cause or no cause, against anyone he deems inferior to himself (this tendency in McLendon is exemplified later when he beats his wife).
"I can't hang around white man's kitchen," Jesus said. "But white man can hang around mine. White man can come in my house, ut I can't stop him. When white man want to come in my house, I ain't got no house. I can't stop him, but he can't kick me outen it. He can't do that."
Jesus's rant while in the Compson's kitchen reveals the anger he feels toward the white men of Jefferson. He and Nancy have just had a conversation about how she is pregnant with another man's child in front of the children, and when he expresses a violent instinct, Nancy scolds him and says, "You want Mr. Jason to catch you hanging around his kitchen, talking that way before these chillen?" His response demonstrates the extreme frustration he feels toward being a second-class citizen, even in his own home.
"You don't understand white people. They are like children: you have to handle them careful because you never know what they are going to do next."
These words are spoken by the nameless Indians in the hallway in the first scene. They are ironic, since they represent the ideas of the white people. What they say about the white people is more expected to be said by the white people about them.
"I was concerned. I had thought that it was exhausted; that I had lost the privilege of being afraid. But I have not. And so I am happy. Quite happy."
After four years at war, Weddel is relieved to recognize any emotion within himself. When Vatch acts angrily toward him, he says that he understands how Vatch feels, but that it is difficult to keep feeling that way for four years, or to feel at all. Now he is scared for his life, since it is clear that Vatch means to kill him, and the father has warned him of this, but the fear excites him since it means he is alive.
"Weddel or Vidal. What does it matter by what name the White Chief calls us? We are but Indians: remembered yesterday and forgotten tomorrow."
The President and Secretary are very annoyed by Francis Weddel, but keep confusing his name with that of his white father, Franciois Vidal. His point in coming all the way to Washington is to insist on being noticed. He wants to represent his people to the men who have taken over their land; thus, his statement is ironic. By humbling himself, saying "We are but Indians," he draws attention to the way he knows the white men look down on his race.
"Anyway, there is a certain integral consistency which, whether it be right or wrong, a man must cherish because it alone will ever permit him to die. So what I have been, I am; what I am, I shall e until that instant comes when I am not. And then I shall have never been. How does it go? Non fui. Sum. Fui. Non Sum.
The Judge has been seeking a kind of truth, and in the waystation in his mind between life and death, he is frustrated in Ingersoll's inability to provide him with it. Here, he realizes that the answer he is looking for can only come from himself. The pattern of his own life will answer the question for him. The Latin phrase he remembers means, "I wasn't. I am. I was. I'm not."
"You see, if I could believe that I shall see and touch him again, I shall not have lost him. And if I have not lost him, I shall never have had a son. Because I am I through bereavement and because of it. I do not know what I was nor what I shall be. But because of death, I know that I am."
In this statement, the Judge decides that death is meaningful only in its ability to enhance the living's appreciation of being alive. If there were an afterlife where he would be reunited with his son, then his suffering on Earth would be unnecessary, and his life would be meaningless. So he chooses not to see his son, in order to allow his reason to continue to hold true.
"You can belong to the farming and hunting business and you can learn the difference between what's right and what's wrong, and do right. And that used to be enough - just to do right. But not now. You got to know why it's right and why it's wrong, and be able to tell the folks that enver had no chance to learn it; teach them how to do what's right, not just because they know it's right, but because they know now why it's right because you just showed them, told them, taught them why. So you're going to school."
The narrator has spent the day out hunting, learning "what's right and what's wrong," as is clear in his personification of the animals and respect for the cyclical, complimentary nature of all their lives. However, it has been pointed out since the beginning of the story at the poker table that he has never been to school and cannot even write his own name. Mister Ernest has the goal in mind for the narrator do become more than he himself is.
A Rose For Emily and Other Short Stories Questions and Answers
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Study Guide for A Rose For Emily and Other Short Stories
A Rose For Emily and Other Short Stories of William Faulkner study guide contains a biography of William Faulkner, literature essays, quiz questions, major themes, characters, and a full summary and analysis of each his short stories, including a Barn Burning summary.
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