“A Rose for Emily” by William Faulkner is a remarkable tale of MissEmily Grierson, whose funeral drew the attention of the entire population ofJefferson a small southern town. Miss Emily was raised in the ante-bellum periodbefore the Civil War in the south. An unnamed narrator, who is consider to be”the town” or at least the collaborative voice of it, aligns keymoments in Emily’s life, including the death of her father and her briefrelationship with a man form the north named Homer Barron. In short this storyexplains Miss Emily’s strict and repetitive ways and the sullen curiosity thatthe towns people have shown toward her.
Rising above the literal level ofEmily’s narrative, the story basically addresses the symbolic changes in theSouth after the civil war. Miss Emily’s house symbolizes neglect, andimprovishment in the new times in the town of Jefferson. Beginning with MissEmily Grierson’s funeral, throughout the story Faulkner foreshadows the endingand suspenseful events in Miss Emily’s life, and Miss Emily’s other impendingcircumstances.
“A Rose for Emily” tells the tale of a young woman wholives and abides by her father’s strict rational. The rampant symbolism andFalkner’s descriptions of the decaying house, coincide with Miss Emily’sphysical and emotional decay, and also emphasize her mental degeneration, andfurther illustrate the outcome of Falkner’s story. Miss Emily’s decaying house,not only lacks genuine love and care, but so douse she in her adult life, butmore so during her childhood. The pertinence of Miss Emily’s house in relationto her physical appearance is brought on by constant neglect and unappreatation.
As an example, the house is stituated in what was once a prominent neighborhoodthat has now deteriorated. Originally the house was, ” It was a big,squarish frame house that had once been white, decorated with cupolas and spiresand scrolled balconies in the heavily lightsome style of theseventies”(Falkner 80) of an earlier time, now many of the towns people seethat the house has become “an eyesore among eyesores”. Through lack ofattention, the house has deteriorated from a beautiful estate, to an uglydesolate shack.
Similarly, Miss Emily has also become an eyesore in thefollowing various ways. An example, she is first described as a “fallenmonument” to suggest her former grandeur and her later ugliness. Miss Emilymight have stayed out of the public eye after these two deaths which left herfinally alone, something she was not used to. When Miss Emily died Jeffersonlost a prominent monument of the Old South.
This story by Falkner contains ahigh rate of symbolism thoroughly distributed and revealed by shadyforeshadowing. Just as the house has, Miss Emily has lost her beauty. Once shehad been a beautiful woman, who later becomes obese and bloated.
In this postcivil war town, the great estate and Miss Emily has suffered the toll of timeand neglect. As the exterior, the interior of the house as well resembles MissEmily’s increasing decent and the growing sense of sadness that accompanies sucha downfall. All that is told of the inside of Miss Emily’s house is a dim hall,where a staircase is mounted into descending darkness, with the house smellingof foul odors. The combined darkness and odor of the house relate with MissEmily in some of the following ways, with her dry and cold voice as if it werescrappy and dry from disuse just like her house.
The similarity between theinside of the house and Miss Emily extends to the mantel, where there is aportrait of her father and Miss Emily sitting there. Internally and externally,both Miss Emily’s building and her body are in a state of deterioration andtarnishment like a metallic material. An example is when she refused to let the”new guard” attach metal numbers above her door and fasten a mailboxwhen the town received free mail service. This reflected Miss Emily’s unyieldingand stubborn persona caused by and related to her father’s strict treatment ofher when she was young. In ending, the citizen’s illustrations of both house andits occupant relate a common unattractive presence. As an example, Faulknerexpresses a lot of the resident’s opinions towards Emily and her family’shistory.
The citizens or the narrator mention old lady Wyatt, Miss Emily’s greataunt who had gone completely mad. Most of these opinions seem to result fromfemale citizens of the town because of their nosy and a gossipy approach towardMiss Emily. In one point that Falkner makes, the house is described to bestubborn and unrelenting, as if to ignore the surrounding decay. Similarly MissEmily proudly surveys her deteriorating once-grand estate. As her father MissEmily possesses an unrelenting outlook towards life, and she refuses to change.Miss Emily’s father never left her alone, and when he died Homer Barron was atreat that she was never allowed to have and served as a replacement for herfather’s love. Miss Emily’s stubborn attitude is definitely attributed to herfather’s strict teachings.
Miss Emily lies to herself as she denies her father’sdeath, refuses to discuss or pay taxes, ignores town gossip about her being afallen woman, and does not reveal to the druggist why she is purchasing arsenic.Both the house and Miss Emily become traps for a representation of the earlytwentieth century, to which is Homer Barron, laborer, outsider, and confirmedbachelor is the complete paradox. Homer described himself as a man who couldn’tbe tied down and is always on the move. This leaves Miss Emily in a terribleposition.
As the story winds down, Emily seems to prove Homer wrong. As the townladies continue to show surmounting sympathy towards Emily, although she neverhears of it verbally. She is well aware of the distant whispers that begin whenher presence is near. Some of the major contributing factors to Emily’s behaviorare gossip and whispers that may have been the causes for her ghastly behavior.The theme of Falkner’s story is quite simple, Miss Emily cannot except the factthat times are changing and society is growing and changing with the times.
Asthis dilemma ensues she isolates herself from civilization, using her butler torun her errands so she doesn’t have to talk much. The setting of Falknes storyis highly essential because it defines Miss Emily’s tight grasp of ante-bellumways and unchanging demeanor. Just as the house seems to reject progress andupdating, so does Miss Emily, until both of them become decaying symbols oftheir dying generation. Through descriptions of the house resemble descriptionsof Mss Emily Grierson, “A Rose for Emily” emphasizes the beauty andelegance can become distorted through neglect and lack of love and affection. Asthe house deteriorates for forty years until it becomes ugly and unappealing,Miss Emily’s physical appearance and emotional well being decay in the same way.