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A Rose for Emily

In times of distress, trauma and uncertainly, many people find a comfort in familiar surroundings, where they can close out the world and relax. This was certainly Emilys way of handling her trauma. All her life Emily tried to escape from change. Even the posting of the new mailbox was unacceptable for her. She acted as though nothing around her had changed her entire life. Even though death and loss affected her, she seemed to try to avoid thinking about it. Emily is unable to balance her traditions in modern times.

But, the roots of her tragedy lay in the fact, that neither can the people who surround her in the town. In the story, Faulkner presents us with a sad tale of a lonely woman, who is only met with disappointment and grief in her search for love. Emily was a lonely woman. Miss Emily came from a powerful family. She had experienced a controlling love from her father. That love only demanded that she abide by his rules and his expectation of her in his lifetime. Her suitors were all sent away by her father.

After failing to marry, she lost the only person who was her family, her father. After her father died, she met Homer Barron, a Yankee, who was in the construction business in the town. Finally she had someone to love. They dated and possibly were happy with each other, but the traditions, customs and prejudices of the South doomed this affair to end. She could not allow this. Emily could not have lived with Homer, but she could not loose him, her only love. So she poisoned him with arsenic. She needed someone to love her eternally, and someone to love.

She did not have any family members to love and nurture, to turn to for love or support. The few family members she had thought she was crazy, but actually they were even more proud of their position in the society. They prohibited her relationship with Homer. They pushed her to do what she did. The town, the family, all the people were against her love. She could not have Homer alive. This is why she killed him. This way he was hers, only hers, forever: Then we noticed that in the second pillow was an indentation of a head. . we saw a long strand of iron-gray hair. In this story, you can’t help but to feel sadness for the characters. Emily was born into position, which her family, particularly her father placed upon her. Her position was that of a Southern prominent family. It demanded that she marry well according to the Southern culture. Emilys position set her apart from the townspeople. In her mind, and in mind of the people in town, it became Emilys inherited duty to meet the obligations of that position.

Alone and lonely, with the stigma of her fallen position, Emily chose seclusion rather than to face the embarrassment she endured. The only connection she had with the townspeople was her noblesse oblige. Emily was caught up in that culture. Had Emily been a stronger person, she might have broken from the mold and lived out her own will, marring her love and being happy. But she was not that strong. She succumbed to the insanity that had crept upon her during the course of her life. The only roses Emily ever received during her sad and lonely life were those that were placed on her grave.

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Home » A Rose for Emily

A Rose for Emily

Characterization  refers  to  the  techniques  a  writer  uses  to   develop
characters.   In  the  story  A  Rose  for  Emily  William   Faulkner   uses
characterization to reveal the character of Miss Emily.   He  expresses  the
content of her character through physical description, through her  actions,
words,  and  feelings,  through  a  narrator’s  direct  comments  about  the
character’s nature, and through the actions, words, and feelings,  of  other
characters.  Faulkner best uses characterization to  examine  the  theme  of
the story, too much pride can end in homicidal madness.

Miss Emily, the main character of this story, lives for many years as  a
recluse, someone who has withdrawn from a community to  live  in  seclusion.
“No visitor had passed since she ceased giving china-painting lessons  eight
or ten years earlier” (394).  Faulkner characterizes  Miss  Emily’s  attempt
to remove herself from society through her  actions.   “After  her  father’s
death she went out very little;  after  her  sweetheart  went  away,  people
hardly saw her at all” (395).  The death of her  father  and  the  shattered
relationship with her sweetheart contributed to her seclusion.

Though her father was responsible for her becoming a recluse, her  pride
also contributed to her seclusion.  “None of the young men were  quite  good
enough for Miss Emily and such” (395).  Faulkner uses the feelings of  other
characters to show  Miss  Emily’s  pride.   Her  pride  has  kept  her  from
socializing with  other  members  of  the  community  thus  reinforcing  her
solitary.  But Miss Emily’s father is still  responsible  for  her  being  a
hermit.  “We remembered all the young men her  father  had  driven  away…”
(396).  If he had not refuse the men who wanted to go out with  Miss  Emily,
she may have not gone crazy.

Miss Emily may  have  wanted  seclusion,  but  her  heart  lingered  for
companionship.  Her desire for love and companionship drove  her  to  murder
Homer Baron.  She knew her intentions when she bought  the  arsenic  poison.
“Then we noticed that in the second pillow was the indentation  of  a  head”
(400).  Her deepest feelings and hidden longings  were  lying  in  the  bed.
Miss Emily’s pride resulted in the shocking murder of Homer Baron.

Faulkner’s use of  characterization  to  describe  Miss  Emily  and  her
intentions was triumphant in bring the story to life.   Miss  Emily’s  pride
was  expressed  through  her  actions,  words,  and  feelings,   through   a
narrator’s direct comments about the character’s  nature,  and  through  the
actions, words, and feelings,  of  other  characters.   Miss  Emily’s  story
constitutes a warning against the sin of pride: heroic isolation pushed  too
far ends in homicidal madness.

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Home » A Rose for Emily

A Rose for Emily

Throughout this story, the overbearing presence of Emily Griersons father is perhaps the greatest influence on her behavior. The story describes how Miss Emilys father rejected her suitors by standing in front of her and aggressively clutching a horsewhip whenever the young men came to call. Without her fathers influence and overprotective behavior it is likely that Emily would have made one of her suitors her husband when she was still of suitable marrying age for that time period.

When Emilys father died the women of the town called on her to offer their condolences and aid as was their custom when someone suffered a tragic loss. Emily met the ladies at the door and with no trace of emotion or grief on her face she sent them away explaining that her father was indeed alive and well. Emily kept this up for three days and finally gave in just as the townspeople were going to forcibly take the body from her.

All of her life up until his death Emilys father controlled her and made all of her decisions for her. When he died Emily was left alone finally able live her own life, but since her father had been controlling her for so long she wasnt able to function without him. Since she wasnt able to function without his presence Emily chose to live her life as if her father was still with her. She spent the majority of her time inside of her house because that was where she could best feel her fathers comforting dominance.

Emily was extremely resistant to modern changes in the outside world affecting her own world because she was determined to live in the past with the ghost of her father. When the new age of city authorities in the town visited her to collect taxes they felt she owed, she sent them away explaining that she didnt have any taxes because the mayor of an earlier generation had remitted them. When the town got free postal delivery Emily alone refused to let the numbers be fastened above her door.

Emilys relationship with Homer Barron, the construction foreman, was a desperate attempt to save herself from living the rest of her life alone with only the shadow of her father to control her. Emily wanted a real physical presence in her life to dominate her just as her father had done and she felt Homer was her only chance to have this. When Emily realized Homer wasnt interested in marriage or a commitment of any kind she knew that he was bound to leave her eventually. To prevent him from deserting her she poisoned him and kept his body locked away in the upstairs of her old house.

The body of Homer came to serve Emily as the physical representation of the controlling presence in her life, her father, and she found comfort in sleeping next to him. The fact that the body was Homers and not her fathers was of little consequence to Emily, if the townspeople hadnt forced her to give up her fathers corpse, then he would have lain in place of Homer on the bed. Emilys unhealthy attachment to her father suggests that she may have had an incestuous relationship with him while he was still alive and she used the body of Homer Barron to continue this relationship.

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