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Published: Tuesday 29th of October 2013
Have you ever read A Rose for Emily? Well, it’s just a short story written by William Faulkner and it reflects on the spirit and emotions of its time. The spatial and temporal setting of the book reveals an interesting plot in two amazing dimensions. Here, it simply brings together the modern (Gehmlich) and old times. Ms. Emily is the main protagonist and she lives somewhere in between these two points in time. Even though many people look at her as an outcast, she’s still influenced by the normal traditions and customs of the society. However, she’s not happy because she’s tied to the events of her past which prevent her from following the constant changes happening in the Jefferson community.
Faulkner creates a county called Yoknapatwapha, located in Mississippi. Everything that happens in the story takes place in this little but well-developed community. It’s a pure reflection of how people live in the United States today. It comes with inner traditions and Rules which everyone is expected to follow.
One of the essential values in the society is Marriage. People sympathize with Emily as she’s old but still unmarried. So, once she starts ‘going out’ with Homer Barron, the entire community is elated. Almost everyone expects her to marry him so that she may feel welcomed in the community. As they kept observing her situation, they were surprised to see no change but they still hoped she would continue managing her life and eventually settle down.
Her lover Homer Barron continued living an active social lifestyle and is not willing to take her as his wife. So, maybe the social pressure is one of the reasons which drove Emily to take his life. She saw this as the only way to make him stay with her. The society expects her to either run away or hide, but she’s determined to save her dignity, at least through her appearance.
She even comes from the well-respected Sartoris family, but her anti-social life makes her the outcast of the society. After Homer Barron Disappears, she maintains a secluded, private lifestyle. Such is a matter of huge social concern especially in this little town where people need to maintain an active life to show that they are still part of the society.
Another cultural norm brought out in this captivating book is segregation based on one’s skin color. Even though there’s no more slavery, the servant’s position still remains low. From the novel, it’s clear that such events take place at a time when racial discrimination was a huge norm in the community. Here, all servants were African American. Emily’s relatives implemented the reforms where these servants had to put on aprons, to show their low standing in society. She had one such servant who served her until the point of her death.
Mourning was a custom and belief which people needed to obey if one ‘lost’ a loved one. Interestingly, even after the death of her father, Emily did not shed a tear. The society heavily involves itself in people’s life, prying into each other’s lives. A good example is the fact that men went to the funeral site just to see a fallen monument and women went ‘only to see the inside of his house.” The essence of judgment and public opinion is fostered by the citizens of Jefferson.
Emily was part of the influential Sartoris family and she did not engage herself in public life. Hence, she was taken a not as a person but museum piece. In any case, she was just another part of the environment. Even as a child, she grew in an atmosphere of fear and anxiety. Her father kept pressuring everyone in the community and at the time, he appeared emotionally unstable. Emily was also the same. Her antisocial nature made people think that she had some mental disorder, this was common for the entire Sartoris family. The respect and fear people gave her father determined how people would treat the rest of the family. Therefore, the community was careful on how it engaged Sartoris and it made sure that it didn’t create minor conflicts. For instance, when they smelled a foul odor coming from Emily’s house, they did not call the house owner but instead, they wrote to the police.
The issue with Emily is that she had a successful past, full or money and respect. However, after some time, all this started to fade. Her character, as well as personality, is seen in her house setting. She’s filled it with breath-taking leather furniture and fantastic looking luxurious possessions. Despite such rich luxuries, she’s neglected her house and it’s now full of dust.
The dust throughout Emily’s house shows her ‘faded’ life. Even when the Aldermen arrive to try and collect Emily’s annual tax payments, the entire house smells of ‘disuse and dust.’ Once they seat, the movement accelerates the dust around them, spreading it on their thighs and on the slim beam of light going into the room.
The house is also a place where memories and regrets remain undisturbed. In certain ways, the dust acts as more of a protective presence where the aldermen cannot pry into Emily’s unstable connection to reality. The layers of dust also show a cloud of loneliness which hides Emily’s true secrets and nature. Towards the final scene, the dust shows a somewhat oppressive presence emanating from the dead body of Homer. Although the dust is everywhere, it’s more severe in this scene!
Other items are even broken with signs showing that they’ve not been in use for several years. According to Inoue, she’s in continuous “psychological dissolution. She’s got no future perspectives and at the same time, she’s secretive when it comes to her past. She’s even deprived of those opportunities she used to enjoy before. She’s somewhat tired of the modern society and prefers to isolate herself and lives alone.
For the most part of the story, Emily is only seen from a distance as people look at her through windows or doorways. Although the community looks at her as an ‘idol’, this pattern changes once she meets Homer Barron, leaves her house and goes out into the world. However, others still look at her in an avid way and she casts a more distant object.
Do you enjoy analyzing literal masterpieces as you try to find the literal tools hidden in them? If so, then you’ll enjoy reading “A Rose for Emily.” Besides, you can also draw some key points from this complete evaluation of the story. From the concept of marriage to the way society is usually sticking its nose in everybody’s business, this story has many parallels to modern day life! However, avoid plagiarism to avoid scoring low grades.
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