May 20, 2018
Author, William Faulkner shows literary realism in his Southern gothic reading, “A Rose for Emily”, which he has divided into five separate portions. In this engaging short story, Faulkner disguises the multiple diverse references he is inferring within this subtlety gruesome tale of a woman’s passing. Faulkner uses his unique flow of writing to connect a story with substantial real life scenarios. The author portrays the main character, Miss Emily, to symbolize the reconstruction of the old South, focalize on baneful relationship connections, and the reoccurring affiliation with fatality.
Throughout the duration of the story, Faulkner formulates numerous implications to show his resemblance of Miss Emily to the early 1900s reparation of the South. A major issue, that at the time was a cultural tradition, was racial discrimination. The actions take place in the story post abolition of slavery, but the position of servants in the soviet remain low. In a book, “Religion in the old south”(94), author, Donald Mathews, states “We who own slaves honor gods law”, which clearly shows the mindset old Southerners used to maintain. It is clear from the story that it occurred in times where racial discrimination was assumed as a social normality. Emily had an African American servant, Tobe, who served her up until her passing which resulted in him leaving to never be seen again. Another resemblance Faulkner makes to symbolize Emily as the south is by relating her decline in life to what the northern part of America planned to be a total bloodshed warfare. In events such as Sherman’s march to the sea, the union soldiers destroyed a lot of the south. Emily appears to be a devastation of what she once was, just as the South looked beautiful before the war and then crumbling to a fall during the reconstruction period. Faulkner creates his character, Emily, to serve as an extended metaphor. Faulkner states, “When Miss Emily Grierson died, our whole town went to her funeral: the men through a sort of respectful affection for a fallen monument…”(133). By comparing Emily to a monument, the author is describing Emily’s prominence in the town as a representative of what life used to be in the old South before war. Faulkner shows connection through the modernist movement and also the main character throughout his writing by portraying Emily as rejecting the advancement of her town due to influences of the war.
Throughout this writing, Faulkner is able to concentrate on the relationships that Emily possesses, such as her father and her lover. One of the most negatively influential relations that she maintained was with her father. Emily’s father is portrayed as a strict, oppressive figure who restrains her from having any kind of sexual or intimate relationship with men. Throughout Emily’s life, she complies to her fathers will and is severely affected by his dominant personality. She is grown to become numb to this controlling kind of connection which later results in a stunt in her future development of meaningful relationships, explaining her reclusive nature. This caused Emily to develop an unstable mental state due to growing up with a tyrannical father in an oppressive home. Another toxic relation Emily experienced was between her and what was known to be her first sweetheart, Homer Barron. The two grew a strong bond and began to spend quite a bit of time together. Throughout the town, rumors of marriage were called to attention and Emily showed signs of engagement such as buying a bridal and groom toilette set. Later on in the story, it is implied that Homer is homosexual by saying, “..because Homer had remarked—he liked men”(140). Ironically, post confession of his sexuality, Homer is known to vanish and never been seen again as everyone just believed he finished his job in town and abandoned Emily prior marriage.
While reading the short story, you may gradually notice a rather depressing repetition: death. Faulkner incorporated the theme of death to better examine the bizarre life of Emily. This theme is so important to the story that Faulkner begins and ends the narrative with Emily’s death. Aside from the Emily’s death, there are two other fatalities that occur during the story. The first being the passing of Emily’s father, which was quite difficult for her to grasp. After passing her father was only to leave her mentally scarred but also within some town debt. Due to his controlling manner, Emily was left no other choice but to only know this one way of living, which was defined by the morals of what was believed to be accurate at the time in the South. When Emily’s father passes, she makes sure to wear no grief upon her face, insisting that her father is not deceased while his lifeless body lies in her house for an estimated three days. Faulkner writes, “We believed she had to do that…with nothing left, she would have to cling to that which had robbed her, as people will”(136). Emily’s pride had no other choice but to attach to what had defined her because she sensed her life would unravel when cast into a new, foreign world. Following the death of her father, Emily also encountered loosing another close person to her, Homer. Although this was something she had slight more control over. When introduced into the story, it was almost that Homer had given Emily that one chance of love that she was never provided due to her fathers restrictions. Although the couple did fall in love and slightly showed marital signs, at some point Homer realized he no longer had the feelings for Emily and decided to leave her. While the town was fooled into the thought that Homer had just returned up north after finishing his construction, the truth is that Emily had poisoned him and kept his corpse locked in a bedroom on her second floor. Faulkner was clear to show that Emily had suffered from some sort of mental health concern if not possibly necrophilism which is quite disturbing.
In this intriguing short story, Faulkner was able to grasp all concepts of love and death into a true mysterious Southern gothic all while including his authentic style choice. The story of Emily’s life was able to provide literary substance while symbolizing and disguising his text. The author was able to show through the main character the representation of the reconstruction of the old South, focuses on toxic relations, and also the reoccurrence of fatalities. (1,114)
Works cited page:
Faulkner, William. A Rose for Emily, and Other Stories. Nanʼun-Do, 1965.
Mathews, Donald G. Religion in the Old South. Chicago Univ. Press, 1994.