In “A Rose for Emily,” William Faulkner’s symbolic use of the “rose” is essential to the story’s theme of Miss Emily’s self-isolation. The rose is often a symbol of love, and portrays an everlasting beauty. The rose has been used for centuries to illustrate an everlasting type of love and faithfulness. Even when a rose dies, it is still held in high regard. Miss Emily’s “rose” exists only within the story’s title. Faulkner leaves the reader to interpret the rose’s symbolic meaning.
Miss Emily was denied the possibility of falling in love in her youth, so subsequently she isolated herself from the world and denied the existence of change. Miss Emily was denied her “rose”, first by her father, then by the townspeople, and then Homer Barron. Through the explicit characterization of the title character, Miss Emily, and the use of the “rose” as a symbol, the reader is able to decipher that Homer Barron was Miss Emily’s only “rose. ”
Miss Emily’s father denied her the ability to establish a “normal” relationship because of their family’s social position. She lost the will and the desire to do so, even after he died. The reader is aware that Miss Emily’s chances of having a “normal” relationship are hindered by her father’s obstinace. Miss Emily’s father was a prominent well-respected southern gentleman, and he would not allow his only daughter to be courted by just anyone. “None of the young men were quite good enough for Miss Emily and such.
We had long thought of them as a tableau. ” As most little girl’s do, Miss Emily idolized her father, and held him in high regard, even though he was a strong and forbidding man, who did not allow her to experience life. Miss Emily’s father “robbed” her of her ability to court during her youth, and therefore hindered her ability to grow emotionally. She refused to accept that her father was anything but the southern gentleman that he was. Miss Emily’s first rose could have been her father, but he wasn’t.
We remembered all the young men her father had driven away, and we knew that with nothing left, she would have to cling to that which had robbed her, as people will. “Miss Emily met them at the door, dressed as usual and with no trace of grief on her face. She told them that her father was not dead. She did that for three days. ” While the corpse of her father remained in the house for three days while Miss Emily refused to accept the her father was dead and that she was now “left alone and a pauper,” she had no idea what to do now that she was alone.
She did not know how to accept the fact that she could now make her own decisions. “So when she got to be thirty and was still single, we were not pleased exactly but vindicated; even with insanity in the family she wouldn’t have turned down all of her chances if they had really materialized. ” The townspeople knew that Miss Emily’s chances of a semblance of a “normal” life dwindled each day. They assumed because of Miss Emily’s social status, and her age that she would be a spinster, and expected her to act as such.
They were appalled when Homer Barron arrived, and he and Miss Emily were seen together in town. They even contacted out of town relatives to come and talk some “sense” into Miss Emily. They could not accept that Emily may be coming into herself, and that she may take on a personality that wasn’t modeled after their expectations of her. When Homer Barron arrived in Jefferson, he knew nothing of the lonely woman in the old white house. Although he is not of Miss Emily’s hierarchy social status, “of course a Grierson would not think seriously of a Northerner, a day laborer.
The townspeople wouldn’t expect for Miss Emily to even be seen in public speaking with him, let alone gadding about the town. “Presently we began to see him and Miss Emily on Sunday afternoons driving in the yellow-wheeled buggy and the matched team of bays from the livery stable. At first we were glad that Miss Emily would have an interest because the ladies all said. ” This shows the prejudice of the townspeople, who sympathized with the girl with the domineering father, but yet when she is older and is attempting to form a normal “healthy” relationship, they deny her that intrinsic right.
Homer Barron is not mentioned often in the story, but the reader gets the gist of the hint that Miss Emily has falling in love for the first time, and then Homer leaves the scene, apparently because the work in Jeffersen is done. The climactic purchase of arsenic foreshadows Faulkner’s eerie direction. Miss Emily has found herself a rose. Not in the traditional sense of a red flower that one would place between the pages of a bible, but a symbolic one that she would treasure and care for even more. She would not or could not let him leave her.
Everyone that she had ever cared for had left her, and she would be damned if it would happen again. Miss Emily got her rose, from herself. She allowed herself to love but would not allow herself to lose. She had lost everything that had ever come to her, including her self-esteem, and the ability to conform to her father’s and society’s wishes. She isolated herself so that she could be who she was. Miss Emily Grierson isolated herself from a society that would not accept her for who she was. She was viewed as someone to be pitied and scorned.
Everyone deserves a rose in life, and yet Miss Emily was denied her rose from everyone that ever came into contact with her. Her father, the townspeople, and even Homer Barron denied her love. Miss Emily found her rose and she would not accept the loss of love. She gave up her freedom, and isolated herself so that she could be with the one that she loved, and remember the embrace that they once may have shared. Like a flower between the pages of a bible Miss Emily found that living with memories was better than living in a society that scorned her.