William Faulkners “A Rose for Emily” tells a story of a young woman who is violated by her fathers strict mentality. After being the only man in her life Emilys father dies and she finds it hard to let go. Like her father Emily possesses a stubborn outlook towards life, and she refused to change. While having this attitude about life Emily practically secluded herself from society for the remainder of her life. She was alone for the very first time and her reaction to this situation was solitude.
This story takes place throughout the Reconstruction Era from the late 1800s to the early 1900s in Jefferson, Mississippi. Emily was raised in the period before the Civil War. Her father who was the only person in her life with the exception of a former lover who soon left her as well raised her. The plot of this story is mainly about Miss Emilys attitude about change. While growing up Emily was raised in a comfortable environment because her father possessed a lot of money.
Considering that her father was a very wealthy person who occasionally loaned the town money Emily had everything a child could want. This caused Emily to be very spoiled and selfish and she never knew the value of a dollar until her father left her with othing but a run down home that started to decay after a period of time. She began to ignore the surrounding decay of the house and her appearance. These lies continued as she denied her fathers death, refused to pay taxes, ignores town gossip about her being a fallen woman, and does not tell the druggist why she purchased rat poison.
Her life, like the decaying house suffered from a lack of genuine love and care. Her physical appearance is brought about by years of neglect. As time went on pieces from Emily started to drift away and also the home that she confined herself to. The town grew a great deal of ympathy towards Emily, although she never hears it. She was slightly aware of the faint whispers that began when her presence was near. Gossip and whispers may have been the cause of her hideous behavior.
The town couldnt wait to pity Ms. Emily because of the way she looked down on people because she was born with a silver spoon in her mouth and she never thought she would be alone the way her father left her. Miss Emily might have stayed out of the public eye after the two deaths because she was finally alone, something she in her petty life was not use to. Emilys father never left her alone and when he ied Homer Barron was a treat that she was never allowed to have. He later died and left her and she was completely alone after that.
After her fathers death she went out very little; after her sweetheart went away, people hardly saw her at all. ( ) With this dilemma she isolates herself from civilization, using her butler, Tobe to run her errands. Miss Emily cannot except the fact that times are changing and society is growing. Maybe Miss Emily is shy about her old fashioned beliefs. If no one was to observe her then no one could force her to change. Emily had been through much and has seen many generations grow efore and around her. This brings reason to her strong Confederate beliefs.
Miss Emily refused to allow modern change into her depressed life. For example when she refused to let the newer generation fasten metal numbers above her door and attach a mailbox when Jefferson got free mail service. This reflects Emilys stubborn persona caused by her fathers treatment when she was young. “A Rose for Emily is told through the eyes of the townspeople. William Faulkner expressed a lot of the residents opinions towards Emily and her familys history. They mentioned old lady Wyatt, her great aunt who had gone completely mad.
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William Faulker’s ” A Rose for Emily” tells the story of a young woman who is violated by her father’s strict mentality. After being the only man in her life Emily’s father dies and she finds it hard to let go. Emily was raised in the ante-bellum period before the Civil War. This story takes place in the Reconstruction Era after the war when the North takes control of the South. Like her father, Miss Emily possesses a stubborn outlook towards life and refuses to change. This short story explains Emily, her mystified ways and the townsfolk’s sympathetic curiosity.
The plot of the story is mainly about Miss Emily’s attitude about hange. “On the first of the year they mailed her a tax notice. February came and there was no reply. They wrote her a formal letter asking her to call the sheriff’s office at her convenience. A week later the mayor wrote her herself, offering to call or to send his car for her, and received in reply a note on paper of an archaic shape, in a thin, flowing calligraphy in faded ink, to the effect that’s he no longer went out at all. The tax notice was enclosed, without comment. ” (189).
Miss Emily was convinced that she had no taxes in Jefferson because before the Civil War the South didn’t have to pay axes and since her father had made a contribution to the town of a generous amount, Colonel Sartoris, mayor at that time had remitted her taxes, she felt that that promise or rather gift still stood good. “After her father’s death she went out very little; after her sweetheart went away, people hardly saw her at all. “(190). Miss Emily might have stayed out the public eye after those two deaths because she was finally alone, something she in her life was not used to.
Emily’s father never let her alone and when he died Homer Baron was a treat she was never allowed to have. Miss Emily’s stubborn attitude efinitely came from her father’s strict teachings. The characters of this story are very briefly mentioned, Miss Emily and Mr. Homer Barron are the two main characters described. Miss Emily was described as a short, fat, aged and mysterious women during her later years. Miss Emily had been through much and had seen many generations grow before and around her. This brings to reason her strong Confederate beliefs.
Homer Barron; on the other hand was quite the opposite, “A Yankee-a big, dark, ready man, with a big voice and eyes lighter than his face,”(191). Homer described himself as man who couldn’t be tied down. This had to be a terrible opposition for Miss Emily. Towards the end of the story Emily seems to prove him wrong. The setting of this passage is highly essential because it defines Miss Emily’s grasp of ante-bellum ways. This story take place throughout the Reconstruction Era from the late 1800’s to the early 1900’s in Jefferson, Mississippi.
Jefferson was just one of the many Southern towns which was reformed by Northern reconstruction. The confederate quickly deteriorated without free labor to aid their farms and plantations. Miss Emily refused to allow modern change into her desolate life. For example she refused to let he newer generation fasten metal numbers above her door and attach a mailbox when Jefferson got free mail service. This reflects Miss Emily’s unyielding persona caused by her father’s treatment when she was young.
When Miss Emily’s death occurred the newer Jefferson generations were left without an ante-bellum perspective. A Rose for Emily” is told through the eyes of the townspeople which is an example of limited omniscient; a narrator inside the work telling the story. Faulkner expressed a lot of the resident’s opinions towards Emily and her family’s history. They mention old lady Wyatt, her great aunt who had one completely mad. These opinions seem to come from female members of the town because they have a nosy approach. “At first we were glad Miss Emily would have an interest, because the ladies all said, ‘Of course a Grierson would not think seriously of a Northerner, a laborer. ‘”(191).
The ladies continue to throw sympathy towards Miss Emily, although she never hears it. She is slightly aware of the faint whispers that began when her presence draws near. Gossip and whispers might have been the causes of her ghastly behavior. The story’s theme is simple, Miss Emily cannot accept the fact that the times re changing and society is growing. With this dilemma she isolates herself from civilization, using her butler, Tobe, to run her errands. Maybe Miss Emily was shy about her old-fashioned ways and beliefs. If no one was to observe her then no one could force her to change.
She died in one of the downstairs rooms, in a heavy walnut bed with a curtain, her gray head propped on a pillow and moldy with age and lack of sunlight. “(194). This might have been a horrible way to die because no one was quickly informed of her death, no one knew how the tragedy occurred and she died in solitude, all alone. When Miss Emily died Jefferson lost a monument of the Old South. This passage contains a high rate of symbolism, icing on the cake as far as the work is involved.
“A small, fat, woman in black, with a thin gold chain descending to her waist and vanishing in to her belt. (189). The hidden timepiece at the end of Emily’s chain symbolizes how time has been hidden from her all these years. This hidden time results in her stubborn unchanging ways. “Only Miss Emily’s house was left, lifting it’s stubborn and coquettish decay above the cotton wagons and gasoline pumps. “(188). Her house represents he Old South, almost like Miss Emily is the only one left to face a modern generation. This could be the reason why she remained isolated for such a long span of her life.
This story’s tone is disturbing. When the Negro opened the blinds of one of the windows, they could see that the leather was cracked; and when they sat down, a faint dust rose sluggishly about their thighs, spinning with slow motes in the single sun-ray. “(189). The dust leaves an old and sluggish impression. The reader can almost inhale the motes of aged old dust. “Then we noticed that in the second pillow was the indentation of a head. One of us lifted something from it, and leaning forward, that faint and invisible dust dry and acrid in the nostrils, we saw a ling strand of iron gray hair. (195).
This excerpt leaves the reader shocked and disgusted. Faulkner’s style is quite difficult to read because it isn’t written in chronological order. It begins by telling about Emily’s past and her family history. This information explains her future behavior and opinions. The ending seems rather abrupt and sudden, but very chilling and non-expectant. The diction and sentence structures are fairly advanced, but soon lead to a reater understanding of the passage because it sets the mood of that specific time.
And now Miss Emily had gone to join the representatives of those august names where they lay in the cedar-bemused cemetery among the ranked and anonymous graves of the Union and Confederate soldiers who fell at battle of Jefferson”. (194). Terms like this were used throughout to aid in setting the Reconstruction Era mood. In conclusion, “A Rose for Emily” is a shocking tale about Emily Grierson, her love, and her inability to accept change. Emily is a prime example of the Old South and it’s changing hardships.
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William Faulkner’s “A Rose for Emily” is the story of a woman’s reluctance towards change. The story encompasses the entire town’s unwillingness to change, while focusing on the protagonist, Emily Grierson. Faulkner uses symbols throughout the story to cloak an almost allegorical correlation to the reconstruction period of the South. Even though these symbols are open to interpretation, they are the heart and soul of the story. While the literal meaning of Faulkner’s story implies many different conclusions, it is primarily the psychological and symbolic aspects which give the story meaning.
Exploring these aspects will shed light on Faulkner’s intention of “A Rose for Emily. ” After Emily Grierson’s domineering father dies, she refuses to move on. By defining “moving on” as letting go, we see that Emily is lodged in the past, unable to ameliorate as the rest of society does. Whenever anything drastic occurs, Emily becomes reclusive,”After her father’s death she went out very little… after her sweetheart went away, people hardly saw her at all. ” (428), the narrator explains. She had Tobe, her butler to interact with the world so that she didn’t have to face reality.
Psychologically, this is very important in terms of how Emily views the world and why she commits murder. If unable to change, one will die in time. Emily though was held to the code of “noblesse oblige” (430). This meant that even in dire need, Emily would never reveal her true feelings to the common folk of Jefferson. So she distorts time, refusing to accept the fact that her father was dead: The day after his death all the ladies prepared to call at the house and offer condolence and aid, as is our custom. 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, with the ministers calling on her, and the doctors, trying to persuade her to let them dispose of the body. Just as they were about to resort to law and force, she broke down, and they buried her father quickly. (429) Emily now clear of her father’s “horsewhip” (429), was free to explore her sexuality. This newfound freedom led her to fancy a Yankee day laborer named Homer Barron. Her father would never have approved of a commoner such as Homer as the townsfolk point out, “We remembered all the en her father had driven away” (429).
Their relationship grew and the townspeople suspected that they would be married, as is the southern way. They were mildly surprise that they were not to be married attributing it to “that quality of her father which had thwarted her woman’s life so many times… ” (432). Her father had doomed her life, stifling any chance for growth. Not all of the blame is to be placed on Emily’s father, rather, it should be spread among the people of the town, her father, and Emily herself. This falling out with Homer is the turning point in the story.
Instead of grieving as a normal person would, Miss Emily turns into a psychotic crazed lover. At this point in the story she ceases to only be called Miss Emily; and the town chooses to add poor Emily , as if a noble Grierson would need pity. Rather than sulk, Emily goes to the drugstore to buy poison, expectedly to kill herself. She displays her force as a Grierson to the unsure druggist when he asks why she requires poison, “Miss Emily just stared at him, her head tilted back in order to look him eye to eye, until he looked away and went and ot the arsenic and wrapped it up” (431).
She used her influence as a Grierson to get what she wanted, even though at this point, the Grierson name, through several humbling events, was losing its vigor. Still alive, Emily again chooses to live a hermit’s life, now that Homer is gone. She again takes refuge in her house which literally and figuratively is Miss Emily’s denial of reality and time. This is the initiation of her downfall and ultimatly her lonely death. She refused to be accepted as what she truley was, a commoner. “… She emanded nore than ever the recognition of her dignity as the last Grierson” (430).
Emily, in her home, which for her, was functioning as a temporal shelter, was impervious to the progression that was sweeping the rest of society. “Miss Emily alone refused to let them fasten the metal numbers above her door and attach a mailbox to it. She would not listen to them. ” (432). Emily died alone, save for her “Negro man to wait on her” (432). The town had forgotten her, for she alone was in the past. Society typically doesn’t look back,it instead looks forward. Miss Emily had long since faded into the past, where no one but scholars would think to look.
However the town still respected Emily for what she was, a “monument” (426). The townfolk did attend the funeral, in most part “… out of curiousity to see the inside of her house… ” (426). After the funeral, the townspeople investigated the house finding a room untouched for over 40 years. The house, like Emily, was stagnant and hadn’t succumbed to the evolution of time. Homer Barron’s decayed body was found lying in bed. Next to Homer there was an “indentation of a ead” (433), and on this pillow lay a “iron gray hair” that belonged to Miss Emily, who apparently was sleeping with the corpse for years.
With Emly Grierson dead, the town no longer had a grasp for the traditional south. Who else would take on the responsibilty of noblisse oblige? In essense, the reconstruction was complete. Faulkner’s story has serious pyschologial ramifications. In this context we see a young girl who is forever changed by her abusive father. She then manifests her desires on an unsuspecting northerner, who through his eyes, is doing nothing wrong. To Miss Emily desertion is a great sin and she will stop at nothing to retain Homer and her dignity.
One could also surmise that she has indulged in necrophillia, as well. All because she is unwilling to recognize that things change over time. The authors consistant use of symbols throughout the story are yet another facet of the magnificance of “A Rose for Emily”. For example, consider Faulkner’s extensive use of color in the story. It is not just for describing the setting and characters. It is actually used to illustrate certain qualities that the author has deemed meaningful. For instance, Emily’s house, which is now “an eyesore among eyesores” (427), represents the Old South.
It like Emily, was the only thing from a dying generation left; they both were a testemant to a bygone era. The house “had once been white” (427), just as Emil’y’s portrait showed her as a “slender figure in white”, and later the house, like Emily, deteriorates in to an eyesore. Faulkner’s description of Emily in the youthful portrait is a stark contrast to her in her later years, “… a small, fat women in black, with a thin gold chain descending to her waist and vanishing into her belt… She looked bloated, like a body long submerged in motionless water, and of that pallid hue” (428).
Faulkner’s description can be absorbed in several different ways, but it is clear that the water stands for time and Emily has been stuck in time since her Homer’s that when digested as a whole paint a unsettling picture. Faulkner’s own distortion of time make reading “A Rose for Emily” almost as, according to the author, the old do, “… confusing time with its mathematical progression, as the old do, to whom all the past is not a diminishing road but, instead, a huge meadow which inter ever quite touches, divided from them now by the narrow bottle-neck of the most recent decade of years”(433).
Throughout the story Faulkner gives the reader glimpses of Emily’s life, essentially giving us the opportunity to draw our own conclusions based on the evidence. The conclusion I’ve drawn is that Faulkner’s intention of the story was to expose the falling of a once distinguished way of life. The author also raises the question of the role of women in Southern society. Yet another function of Faulkner’s work is to make the reader question the effects of life on all of us.
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