Analysis – A Rose For Emily Essay, Research Paper
Analysis – A Rose for Emily
In the short story, “A Rose for Emily,” Faulkner paints a vivid picture of an old woman, Emily Grierson, that is attempting, as many elderly people do, to hold on to the last shreds of dignity and status that she once held in her community.
Miss Emily, however, not only stands for herself in the story, but the whole southern era of which she was a part – her death symbolizes its death as well. Miss Emily was referred to as a “fallen monument” in the story. She was a “monument” of Southern gentility, an ideal of past values but fallen because she had shown herself susceptible to death (and decay), and also was not able to move on and live along with the others in the more modern era. The description of her house “lifting its stubborn and coquettish decay above the cotton wagons and the gasoline pumps-an eyesore among eyesores” represented a juxtaposition of the past and present and was a representation of Emily herself.
By the time the representatives of the new, progressive Board of Aldermen waited on her concerning her delinquent taxes, she had already completely retreated to her world of the past. She declared that she had no taxes in Jefferson, saying that there had been an agreement made with Colonel Sartoris, a man who had been dead for ten years. Just as Emily refused to acknowledge the death of her father earlier in the story, she now refused to recognize the death of Colonel Sartoris. He had given his word and according to the traditional view, his word knew no death. It is the past pitted against the present-the past with its social lifestyle, the present gauging everything by the book.
Homer is also involved in this desire to live in the past. When Emily is threatened with desertion by Homer, she not only takes refuge in the past, but also takes Homer with her in the only manner possible-death. Had Homer been allowed to do as he wished, which was apparently to derive pleasure from their relationship and then move on, Miss Emily’s would have been defeated, but as it is, she “defeats” time by continuing to live with Homer’s body, her upstairs room becoming an escape from time.
Homer Barron, the Yankee, lived in the present, ready to take his pleasure and depart, apparently unwilling to consider the possibility of defeat neither by tradition (the Griersons) nor by time itself (death). In a sense, Emily conquered time, but only briefly and by retreating into her “rose-tinted” world of the past. This was a world in which death was denied at the same time that it was shown to have existed. Such retreat, the story implies, is hopeless since everyone, even Emily, was finally subject to death and to the invasion of his or her world by the clamorous and curious inhabitants of the world of the present. “When Miss Emily died, [the] whole town went to her funeral…the women mostly out of curiosity to see the inside of her house, which no one save an old manservant…had seen in at least ten years” (Norton Anthology, 2044).