July 8, 2018
Symbolisms for Emily
Symbolism in literature is using an object to portray a different, deeper meaning in a story. Symbols represent ideas or qualities that the author has maneuvered into his or her story that has meaning. There can be multiple symbols in a story or just one. It is up to the reader to interpret the meaning of the symbols and their significance to the story. While reading a story, symbols may not become clear until the very end, once the climax is over, and the falling action is covered. In William Faulkner’s, “A Rose for Emily,” there are multiple examples of symbolism that occur throughout the story.
Symbolism that “A Rose for Emily” displays is Miss Emily’s taxes that represent death. First is the death of her father. The taxes are a symbol of the financial remission her father experiences, but keeps hidden from Miss Emily and the town. Thirty years later, after the initial decline of Miss Emily’s taxes, the newer generation attempts to retract the deal of the past. In the new generation, the taxes now symbolize the death of Homer Barron. Although the taxes are a deal of the past, there is an effort in Miss Emily to keep them a thing in the present. Homer Barron is her new man of the present, and his death symbolizes the taxes she insists she does not have to pay (Shmoop 3).
The gray strand of hair found on the pillow next to Homer Barron’s corpse is the next symbol. The lost love represented by the strand of hair is a perverse action of Miss Emily. The hair represents Miss Emily’s determination to live how she wants while disregarding anyone’s approval. Her eccentric actions proves that she lives by her own moral code, that whatever it takes to be happy is welcome, even if it is murder. “What was left of him, rotted beneath what was left of the nightshirt...” (“A Rose for Emily” 4). The strand of hair stands as the remnant of life that is left to decay, just like Homer Barron’s body (“A Rose” 4).
The lime that is sprinkled around Miss Emily’s house is another symbol in the story. Lime is a white powder that is used to cover the smell of decomposing bodies. The townspeople go to Miss Emily’s house to sprinkle lime in her yard when there is complaint about the awful smell emanating from her house. The smell of Homer’s rotting corpse eventually stops permeating into the streets, but it is thought that the smell may have become normal to the town. The lime symbolizes a weary attempt to hide information. It is a cover up that symbolizes how the town hides the secrets in that generation (Shmoop 5). Arsenic is a symbol of hiding something that smells, just like lime. When arsenic is used to kill a rat, it creates a stench. The arsenic that Miss Emily uses on Homer Barron’s body creates a smell that the townspeople want to get rid of with lime. On Miss Emily’s package, the cashier writes “For rats.” “Faulkner himself claims that Homer was probably not a nice guy....