Rose For Emily

Rose For Emily Only when the present has become the past can we reflect on what we could have or should have done. Yet our society is so obsessed with keeping track of time that we spend millions of dollars a year to keep a set of atomic clocks ticking the time. These clocks are so accurate that they must be reset once a year to correct for the earth’s imperfect orbit. Our base-60 measure of time is an abstract idea dating from the Babylonians. All this, and what most human minds intrinsically understand about time is the past, present and future.

I say most minds, because not every mind does comprehend these abstract ideas. Many people are able to survive in the present, but give little or no thought to the future, and these people usually live in the past. Such a mind is the mind of Miss Emily Grierson in William Faulkner’s A Rose for Emily. Emily Grierson survives in the present, but lives in the past. The morbid ending is foreshadowed by the story’s opening with Miss Emily Grierson’s death and funeral. The bizarre outcome is further emphasized throughout by the symbolism of the decaying house, which parallels Miss Emily’s physical deterioration and demonstrates her ultimate mental disintegration. Her life, like the house which decays around her is a direct result of living in the past.

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Part of living is death, and the future conjures life, the past, and death. Emily’s imbalance of past and present causes her to confuse the living with the dead. Perhaps the most prominent example of Emily’s confusion is the carcass of Homer Barron lying in the honeymoon room of Emily’s house. This division is exemplified by the symbolic imagery of Faulkner. The rose colored room, a color of life, is covered thickly with dust, a symbol of death. Of course, this is not the first time we learn of Emily’s confusion.

Previous to Barron’s discovery, her father dies, and she denies that he is dead. Faulkner gives the reader a taste of this confusion early on when Miss Emily instructs the town tax-collectors to consult with Colonel Sartoris about her taxes, though he had been dead for ten years. At this foreboding point in the story, Emily seems to be a senile old maid; this could not be further from the truth. The external characteristics of Miss Emily’s house parallel her physical appearance to show the transformation brought about by years of neglect. For example, the house is located in what was once a prominent neighborhood that has deteriorated. Originally white and decorated in “the heavily lightsome style” of an earlier time, the house has become “an eyesore among eyesores”.

Through lack of attention, the house has evolved from a beautiful representative of quality to an ugly holdover from another era. Similarly, Miss Emily has become an eyesore; for example, she is first described as a “fallen monument”, to suggest her former grandeur and her later grotesqueness. Like the house, she has lost her beauty. Once she had been “a slender figure in white”; later she is obese and “bloated, like a body long submerged in motionless water with eyes lost in the fatty ridges of her face”. Both house and occupant have suffered the ravages of time and neglect. The interior of the house also parallels Miss Emily’s increasing degeneration and the growing sense of sadness that accompanies such decay.

Initially, all that can be seen of the inside of the house is “a dim hall from which a staircase mounted into still more shadow” with the house smelling of “dust and disuse”. The darkness and the smell of the house connect with Miss Emily, “a small, fat woman in black” with a voice that is “dry and cold” as if it were dark and dusty from disuse like the house. The similarity between the inside of the house and Miss Emily extends to the “tarnished gilt easel” with the portrait of her father and Miss Emily “leaning on an ebony cane with a tarnished gold head”. Inside and out, both the building and the body in which Miss Emily live are in a state of deterioration like tarnished metal. Finally, the townspeople’s descriptions of both house and occupant reveal a common intractable arrogance. At one point the house is described as “stubborn” as if it were ignoring the surrounding decay. Similarly, Miss Emily proudly overlooks the deterioration of her once grand residence.

This motif recurs as she denies her father’s death, refuses to discuss or pay taxes, ignores town gossip about her being a “fallen woman,” and does not tell the druggist why she is purchasing arsenic. Both the house and Miss Emily become traps for that strongest representative of the twentieth century, Homer Barron, laborer, outsider, confirmed bachelor. Just as the house seems to reject progress and updating, so does Miss Emily, until both of them become decaying anachronisms. Through descriptions of the house that resemble descriptions of Miss Emily Grierson, “A Rose for Emily” emphasizes the way that beauty and elegance can become grotesquely distorted through neglect and lack of love. In this story, the house deteriorates for forty years until it becomes ugly; Miss Emily’s physical and emotional condition dissipate in a similar manner.

Rose For Emily

Rose For Emily The use of conflict, foreshadowing, and flashbacks throughout the story form the plot along with its characters. The plot’s stages can be traced throughout the story. The start and end of the exposition, climax, and resolution can be identified. There is also a protagonist and a few antagonists in this story. The story is based on the life of a southern woman and the outcome of probably her one and only relationship with a man. I will in the following paragraphs illustrate the use of the previously mentioned tools in the story.

The story opens with the death of Miss Emily Grierson, the subject of the story. The fact that the story begins in medias res or in the midst of the story is an example of manipulation of the chronological order of the story (Kirszner and Mandell 65). This tool used by authors enhances the way a story is told. Another form of manipulating the order of when events are exposed is through the use of flashbacks. Faulkner relies on this to describe the events leading up to Emily’s death.

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Throughout the story the narrator goes back to different events to introduce characters such as her father, her Negro servant, Homer Barron, and the Board of Aldermen. An example of this would be when the narrator states, “We did not even know she was sick; we had long since given up on getting any information from the Negro.” (86) Within these flashbacks, the author inserts examples of foreshadowing. When an author uses foreshadowing they are trying to give the reader an insight to the events about to unfold later on in the story (68). Palomo 2 One example of this would be when the aldermen go to visit Emily to serve her with a notice of the taxes she owes. The author writes, “So she vanquished them, horse and foot, just as she had vanquished their fathers thirty years before about the smell.” ( 82) This statement was an example of foreshadowing in that it evoked the reader to ask him/herself “what smell?”.

The smell would be the rotting corpse of her dead lover Homer Barron, which was revealed at the end of the story. The cause of his death was also foreshadowed in the text. Emily had gone to the drugstore and asked for arsenic. When the druggist informed her that by law he was obligated to ask her the purpose for the arsenic, she looked at him “eye to eye, until he looked away and got the arsenic and wrapped it up.” (84) The use of flash backs and foreshadowing by the author help him establish the storyline and introduce the conflicts that the protagonist must face. The conflicts that Emily had with some of the characters and herself shaped her in the eyes of the reader.

Emily was a woman that had been raised around the time of the Civil War in a prominent family. This fact kept her from having a normal life. Her father never felt any man was worthy of courting her. After he died, she searched for that happiness she felt she deserved, but always maintained the noblesse oblige whenever in public. The denial she exhibited at her father’s passing was the same denial she felt when she realized that Homer could one day leave her, too.

The culmination of her father’s death and no big inheritance made her feel as if though her life was spinning out of control. She could not bear the thought of being without Homer and alone with nothing. This is why she killed him and still slept by him all those years. His death created a conflict with her moral character, which is why she became a recluse. Palomo 3 Aside from this struggle, Emily had now also become an old lady surrounded by a new generation of towns people and leaders.

She had become kind of a burden to the town because of Colonel Sartoris’ promise to void her from paying taxes. The text alludes to this when it states, “When the next generation, with its more modern ideas, became mayors and alderman, this arrangement created some little dissatisfaction.” (81) The new generation saw Emily as a reminder of the older ways of life in that town. All the conflicts that Miss Emily Grierson faced were what established her character in the story. Emily is seen as the protagonist of the story. She is the one that battles with her father’s ruling hand and his death, her own conscience about killing Homer, and the town’s people constant scrutiny.

All these forces are some the story’s antagonists. They are the opposing forces that Emily must deal with before her death. Examining the role that her father played in her life, no statement in the story leaves a stronger impression than the one at the bottom of page 82. The narrator says, “None of the young men were quite good enough for Miss Emily..a slender figure in white in the background, her father a spraddled silhouette in the foreground, his back to her and clutching a horse whip..” (82). The death of her father and the meager inheritance left her feeling helpless; without guidance or protection.

This lead to the interest in Homer Barron. She needed him to be her security. In which case, she kept him there forever. The fact that she committed a crime like this must have thrown her conscience into a maelstrom of guilt, yet it also brought a perverse security from the outside world. A world that she locked out of, up to the time of her death.

I believe that it was this same world that made her feel this insecurity and vulnerability. The author clarifies this point, “Thus she passed from generation to generation-dear, Palomo 4 inescapable, impervious, tranquil, and perverse.”(86) The view of this society made her feel she could not show any weakness, when she had little or no strength left. She did the only thing that would keep her from the same fate as her great aunt old lady Wyatt, she cut the connection. The end result was the increased scrutiny and curiosity of the town’s people. With all these antagonistic forces at hand, Miss Emily Grierson handled this as long as she could in true nature of her proud upbringing. The plot of all stories has stages that it goes through in order to get its point across.

These are the exposition, climax, and resolution. The exposition starts from the beginning of the story. It introduces all the players in the story, the conflicts, and the events that lead up to the climax. I believe that the exposition ended and the climax began at the point of the story when they are all gathered at her house for her funeral. The climax peaked at the point when they forced their way into the room that no one had seen in decades.

The discovery of Emily’s lover on the bed “now in the long sleep that out lasts love” was the point that the resolution had begun to become evident. (87) The arsenic, her reluctant nature of letting anyone see that part of the house, and the secrecy all were tied together at this point. Here the reader reached an understanding of what the author was trying to tell them, which is the definition of the resolution. These stages are essential to the success of a good story. The elements of a plot all work in synchronicity with one another.

They all added there own flavor to the story. One can add a little more of one or two of these aspects of the plot to get a different affect. All in all, the story combined the right amount of these tools to attain not only a well written story but one that clearly states what the author is trying to convey. Bibliography Kirszner, Laurie G., and Stephen R. Mandell.

A Rose for Emily. Fort Worth. Harcourt, 1997.

Rose For Emily

A Rose for Emily By: none (William Faulkner) 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.

Rose For Emily

Rose For Emily “A Rose for Emily is a very popular short story because of its, style , climax, and plot. The author, William Faulkner, was a “Southern” writer from Oxford, Mississippi. FAulkner bases this story on the tale of Oxford’s aristrocratic ” Miss Mary ” Neilson. She married Captain jack Hume, the charming yankee foreman of a street-paving crew, over her family’s shocked protests. The style of this story is false romance. Miss Emily’s father, before his death, would run off every man that tried to court her. Because of this, she felt any man she loved would leave her.

After falling in love with Homer Baron, she feared he would run off like the others. To keep this from happening, she poisoned him and kept his body upstairs in the bedroom. The climax focuses on the room where the corpse was found. After Miss Emily’s death, the town people were cleaning up the house and found a room that was locked. They had to break down the door. To their surprise, they found Homer Baron’s corpse lying in the bed dressed in a night shirt.

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As the story progresses there is no indication that he had died. When they found the toilet things sitting on the dresser with initials H.B., it was well known that the corpse was Homer Baron. I first thought it was her father in the bed, then I realized that her father was already buried. I then knew it had to be her lover. I cringed on the thought of what she did while she was lying next to the corpse. Finally, the end of this story surrounds a woman’s life from her mid twenties until her death at the age of seventy-four.

It describes a prominent lady of a town who led a private life. I learned, while reading this story that this woman is crazy and had the mind of a child. She seemed to lose everything she loved. Keeping the body of the individual she loved was her eay of not feeling so alone.

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