This week I read William Faulkner’s short stories, “Two Soldiers” and “Turnabout,” and they showed a different side of Faulkner’s writing that shows the struggle of families and soldiers in World War II. In “Two Soldiers,” Faulkner evokes emotion in the reader by having Pete, the oldest son of the Grier family, leave for the war and his brother follow him all the way to Memphis before being sent home by Pete himself. I liked that Faulkner gave a voice to every character and made sure that each one had a different personality in their dialogue, for example when pap and Pete said goodbye pap said, “‘Good-by, son. Always remember what your ma told you and write her whenever you find the time,'” using few words and letting the emotion shine through. Faulkner’s other piece that I read this week was “Turnabout,” which was a war story featuring a sailors versus pilots point of view of each other’s occupations and a dramatic ending where both of the main characters die. I didn’t like this piece as much as the first one because it was hard to read with frequent dialogue changes between so many characters throughout the piece. Despite the ambiguity, this piece brought us close to the characters by seeing them learn and react to new experiences in the war, with the pilot riding in a torpedo boat and the seaman having his first flight in a bomber airplane.
William Faulkner believes that writing should go past the author and be independent in and of itself. He explains in an interview with The Paris Review that, “If I had not existed, someone else would have written me,” claiming that these stories would be told regardless of who is telling them. Faulkner liked the works of Scottish romantic poet Robert Burns as well as English romantic writers A.E. Housman and C. Swineburn and these men influenced his writing in his earlier years. Burns was a lyricist and poet in Scotland who saw writing as a form of expression rather than a plea for success and wrote freely just for the sake of writing, this may be why Faulkner likes his writing because it is a similar philosophy as his own. His writing habits were also erratic as he didn’t keep notes or carry a pen and paper but worked mostly from memory according to his step-son Malcom Franklin in Bitterweeds: Life with William Faulkner at Rowan Oak. Franklin said he would walk for miles through the woods and then return to the house where he would write and demand silence throughout the house. Faulkner advised fiction writers to quit while the thought is rolling in your brain so you don’t reach a dead-end when writing and you can easily start up the next time.