The works of William Faulkner have had positive effects on readers throughout his career. Local legends and gossip trigger the main focus of his stories. Considering that Faulkner grew up in Mississippi, he was very familiar with the ways of the South. This award winning author has been praised by many critics for his ability and unique style of writing. One of Faulkner’s most popular works, which also was his first short story nationally published in 1930, “A Rose for Emily” is one of the most authentic short stories by Faulkner.
By writing about the political and social ways of the South, Faulkner was able to create an illusion of the New South as being what we know today as mainstream America. His use of characterization, narration, foreshadowing, and symbolism are four key factors to why Faulkner’s work is idealistic to all readers. Faulkner’s use of characterization in “A Rose for Emily” is clearly important to the story. It is obvious to all readers that Miss Emily Grierson is the protagonist, or the principle character. According to a prominent critic, Elizabeth Sabiston, “Emily is a gothic character” (142).
Sabiston is referring to Emily that way because of the fact that she slept with skeleton of her lover Homer Barron for forty years. She was awfully stubborn in the opinion of the townspeople. This stubbornness also ties in with Emily’s ability to live in reality. After she refused to pay her taxes, directly to the mayor, she tells them to go see Colonel Satoris, who has been dead for ten years. This portrays that Emily’s illusion of reality was greatly distorted. Miss Emily was motivated by her lover, Homer, she isolated herself in an old decaying house and she refused to recognize that time had passed.
Emily was proud, disdainful and seemingly independent. This shows the importance of characterization. Without these characters, the story would be radically changed. When the reader understands Emily, they can achieve a clearer view of the actions that go on during the story (West 149). Several other characters in “A Rose for Emily” are set in opposition to Emily. Faulkner’s use of characterization proves to be a positive way to exemplify the readers’ feelings about certain characters and the tribulations they experience. Another prime example of Faulkner’s effective writing is his use of narration.
Of course, in most stories the narrator is a key asset. In :A Rose for Emily” Faulkner uses the narrator not only as a story teller, but as an observer from the crowd as well. The narrator’s point of view, which is third person, had a positive effect on the way a reader views the story. “Through out the story the narrator uses “we” instead of I revealing to us the way the townspeople judge Emily” (Madden 1988). The narrator thinks back in time throughout the story remembering particular events that occurred in the past. This is important to the reader in that it helps aid the understanding of how the townspeople viewed Emily.
The narrator as one of the townspeople viewed Miss Emily as impervious, tranquil, and perverse. If the story had been narrated by anyone else, it may not have been as easy for the reader to completely understand. “With this spectator as the narrator, describing the events of the story through his eyes, one can detect a general impression of Emily” (Madden 1987). The view of the narrator is beneficial in understanding the things that Emily goes through. Also toward the end of the story the narrator gives the reader a feeling if sorrow and pity for Emily.
It is apparent Faulkner’s use of narration is critical to the enhancement and clarification of the “A Rose for Emily. ” After analyzing the narrator it was made clear that one of the towns people was the narrator. The narrator could not have been better than someone from the town who had a birds eye view of Miss Emily’s life. Another example of Faulkner’s unprecedented style is his use of foreshadowing. By using this technique, Faulkner forces the reader to notice or feel the intensity of the feelings and sights given off by the story. An artistic nature is vividly exhibited by the use of foreshadowing (Madden 1989).
A prime example of Faulkner’s artistic ability is the character Homer Barron, who is Miss Emily’s lover. Homer is casually mentioned at first, and he seems to have little or no significance to the story’s direct meaning. However after looking back over the story, the reader can see that Homer did display a important role in the theme of the story. The theme of Emily being unhappy and basically leading a sheltered life foreshadows that Faulkner bring across that it was wrong for the townspeople to gossip and assume things about Emily (Pierce 850).
By using Homer as the antagonist, one can see that because he had disagreed with Emily and was going to let Emily down as her father had, her unhappiness had drove her to commit murder. Faulkner also used the mood as a foreshadowing tool. According to Irving Howe, “A Rose for Emily” may seem dependent on its climax of shock, particularly in its hair-raising final sentence. The shock, however, is largely justified by the theme of the story-given this theme, there can be no way of realizing it, except through shock (265).
The type of foreshadowing that Faulkner uses represents the past and present generations and how they have progressed in the story, Miss Emily still represented and for the beliefs of the Old South while the New South generation stood back and allowed her to bask in her illusions. One final example of Faulkner’s intellectual writing is his ability to incorporate symbolism into his writing. In “A Rose for Emily” Miss Emily actually symbolized a remembrance of values and sins of the townspeople’s ancestors. Miss Emily was considered a decadent and perverse relic of the South’s ante-bellum past (Pierce 850) .
Miss Emily was definitely a complex character in that her character stood for the beliefs that she believed from the Old South. In the title “A Rose for Emily” many have ask “What does the Rose stand for? ” According to the distinguished critic David Madden, “the Rose” is a symbol of the age of romance in which the aristocracy were obsessed with delusions of grandeur, pure women being a symbol of the ideal in every phase of life”(1988). In other words, the story is in a way, a “rose” to Miss Emily for standing up for the things that she believed and died believing them.
Other characters also symbolized other things in the story. Colonel Satoris, the old negro servant, and the older generation of the Board of Alderman symbolized the Old South. The unnamed narrator, the new generation of the Board of Alderman, and the attitude of Homer Barron toward the Grierson’s and the Old South symbolized the feelings of the New South (West 148). Most people will agree that William Faulkner’s “A Rose for Emily” has an effect on those who read it. In conclusion an entire novel could be written from this single short story due to the fact that it had so many components intertwined within.
Through the use of characterization, narration, foreshadowing, and symbolism, the reader will gather a clearer understanding of the point that Faulkner is trying to get across. The point that Faulkner is making is gossip is not always true, and that no one should attempt to base the truth on rumors, rather than the facts. Finally, the effect of “A Rose for Emily” is one that is positive and enjoyable. “A Rose for Emily” is and will continue to be a definite success in the works of William Faulkner. The story has been enjoyed by many readers and sure to be enjoyed by many others who will read it in future generations yet to come.