In the story, “A Rose for Emily,” by William Faulkner, Miss EmilyGrierson’s struggle with her family, her town, and herself makes her do thingsthat are out of the “norm. ” Her struggle makes her act inhuman and deranged.
Emily is a living a very sheltered life. Miss Emily struggles, in this story,with herself and the society around her. Emily Grierson became very heartless inthe eyes of the reader and even a little demented all because of her shelteredlifestyle, closed environment and, conflict with the townspeople. She knew thatthe people of her town were talking about her. However, she ultimately let theirgossip influence her life. Some think that Emily’s actions were based on thetownspeople’s attitudes toward her.
Others may say that her father shaped heractions. However, Emily’s father, the townspeople, and even Emily herselfshaped her motives. They were the driving forces behind Emily’s action. Thisstruggle between “an individual and the society that attempts to restricther” (Brooks ; Warren 158) would be unbearable for Miss Emily.
This iswhat ultimately leads to her downfall. Through imagery and conflict, the readercan witness how all of this is true. As Faulkner begins this story, the readerquickly learns that this piece is going to be about death and dying. Not so muchas physical death, although physical death is also apparent, but spiritual,mental, and social decay.
The physical death is opened to the reader in thefirst line of this short story. The storyteller informs the reader by saying,”when Miss Emily Grierson died, our whole town went to the funeral. . . ” Justby this line the reader wonders if the town was sad to see Miss Emily past away,or were they glad.
Later in the story, the reader finds out that the townspeoplewere glad. However, not for the reason that one might imply. Because the firstline of the book deals with death and dying, does it make “A Rose for Emily”a story of horror? Brooke and Warren writes, “we have a decaying mansion inwhich the protagonist, shut out from the world, grows into something monstrous,and becomes as divorced from the human as some fungus growing in the dark on adamp wall. ” (Brooks ; Warren 158) This is what makes this piece a horrorstory.
Webster New World says that horror means, “the strong feeling caused bysomething frightful or shocking. ” At the end of “A Rose for Emily,” thereader finds out that Miss Emily is performing a very deviant action. The readerand the townspeople are very much shocked by this act. This piece is truly “astory of horror. ” (Brook ; Warren 158).
What made Emily killed Homer? Toanswer this, the reader must first expose Emily’s character to view. Emily’sgrew up around her father. Her life was hard. Emily’s father was a very strictman. If compared to today’s strict father, he would be the type of father thatwould show off his gun collection to a guy before taking his daughter out.
However, in the case of Miss Emily’s father, he did not let anyone see her. The narrator in the story says Emily’s father “ran off all the men that camefor Emily. ” The reader sees how Emily’s father is detrimental to MissEmily’s well being. Because her father blocked her from the outside world,Emily became dependent. Emily became addicted to her father. If her father toldher to jump, Emily probably would respond by saying how high.
Emily’s fatherwas like a depressant drug. This drug made Emily feel safe at all times. Thereader also witnesses Emily’s father characteristics in a work of art. Theportrait hung “by the back-flung front door. ” The narrator of the storydescribes Miss Emily in the picture as “a slender figure in white in thebackground. ” It continues to say her father was “a spraddle silhouette inthe foreground.
” The reader can see how Faulkner uses the portrait tosymbolize how Emily’s father shielded her. The narrator goes on to say that,” [her father’s] back to her and clutching a horse whip. ” The picturedepicts how Emily’s father is in command. It shows how he ruled her.
Herfather was the dictator in their relationship. Emily’s white garmentrepresents how pure and innocent she was. Emily was like a child that is in thefirst stages on its life. The reader can not help but wonder what happened toEmily’s mother.
Faulkner does not answer this question. Something must havehappen to her while Emily was still young. Something had to happen to makeEmily’s father act the way he did toward Emily. The absence of her motheraffected her slightly.
The reader can only speculate exactly how much itaffected her. However, the reader could clearly see that Emily’s father madeher live sheltered and away from everyone. Emily never had a worry. She grew upthinking that in her older years there would always be someone there to makesure she had the necessities of life.
Miss Emily knew that without her fathershe was nothing. Because of this, losing him never crossed her mind. Inactually, when Emily’s father pasted, Emily lost her best friend, her mother,her brother, and her father. This is what Emily’s father represented to her. Emily had nothing else to live for. When her father died, it was no wonder whyMiss Emily was confused.
However, surprisingly, Emily did not deal with herfather’s death like most people. She took it hard, but it left a differentkind of impression of her. Her grief was not like a normal person’s grief. Nevertheless, she still grieved. When the storyteller describes Miss Emily,?. .
. with no trace of grief on her face,” and when she tells the townspeoplethat “her father [is] not dead,’ the reader knows that Emily is having aserious problem dealing with her father’s pasting. This also makes the readerwonder if Emily is crazy or if she is just taking the lost of her father in amuch different way. The townspeople thought that Emily was crazy. For three day,Miss Emily denied to the town that her father was not dead. The storytellersays, “Just as they were about to resort to law and force, she broke down, andthey buried her father quickly,” After this, the townspeople begin to wonderif Emily was playing with a full deck.
“The narrator indicates plainly enoughthat people felt that she was crazy. ” (Brooks & Warren 158) The readerfinds out that Miss Emily has become the type of person where “realty andillusion has blurred out. ” (Brooks & Warren 158) This is apparent to thereader during the tax situation with the new Board of Aldermen. Miss Emilyrefuses to pay taxes to the town.
The mayor of the town begins to protest abouther refusal to pay the city. However, Miss Emily does not even identify him asthe mayor of the town. A committee from the town comes over to Miss Emily’shome. She tells the committee to talk with Colonel Sartoris.
The reader findsout that he had been died for ten years. However to her, he was still alive. Faulkner used this comparison between illusion and reality to show how MissEmily was impacted by her closed and sheltered life. (Brooks & Warren 158)Emily began to live like a commoner. During this era, status was a veryimportant thing.
The name of Grierson was very noted in the community. For manygenerations, the Grierson Family lived solely off their name. ” A principalcontrast [in this story] is between past times and present times: the past asrepresented by Emily herself, in Colonel Sartoris, in the old Negroservant. . .
the present is depicted through the unnamed narrator and isrepresented in the new Board of Aldermen, in Homer Barron. . . ” (West 148). Thismeans that Faulkner used Emily (and the Grierson name for that matter) torepresent how things used to be. Although the Griersons lived off their name,the townspeople knew that they did not really have as much money as everyonethought.
This is revealed to the reader when the storyteller says, “. . . theGriersons held themselves a little too high for what they really were. ” (O’Conner152) Because of Emily’s shelter life, she was unable to cope with big eventsthat came her way. Emily was dealing with so many things.
She did not know howto handle herself in these unfamiliar situations. However, something happen toMiss Emily that would change her life, Mr. Homer Barron. Homer was “daylabor. ” This was different for Miss Emily and the townspeople, because MissEmily was a Grierson and she was not supposed to ignore noblesse oblige.
MissEmily disregarded it anyway. The reader notices that Miss Emily is proud ofHomer. “[Brooks and Warren] indicate that her pride is connected with hercontempt for public opinion. This comes to the fore, of course, when she ridesaround about town with the foreman whom everyone believes is beneath her. “(Brooks & Warren 158). The townspeople were happy for Miss Emily.
Homer waslike the rest of them, a commoner. They felt that he brought Miss Emily down totheir level. The reader could see that Homer made Miss Emily happy. This wasalso apparent to the townspeople. They could see that Emily loved Homer.
Shewanted to spend the rest of her life with him. She was determined not to loseHomer the way she lost her father. “She is obviously a women of tremendousfirmness of will” (Brooks & Warren 158). Miss Emily was going to get it nomatter what it took to do it.
The reader can see how firm she is when she goesto purchase the poison to kill Homer. “She completely overawes the clerk”(Brooks & Warren 158). She does not even give off any clues to what use shewill have for the poison. When she kills Homer, Miss Emily feel that this is theonly way to keep him forever. To Miss Emily, poisoning Homer was her way ofpreserving.
(Fielder 142). Miss Emily was a confused woman. She did notunderstand what she was doing was not the way to preserve love. The reader couldsee that she had never experienced love like the love her and Homer Barron had. She liked that feeling and did not want it to end.
She knew that if thetownspeople found out he were dead, not only would she suffer seriousconsequences, but also they would take Homer’s body away leaving her withnothing. Faulkner says, “I feel sorry for Emily’s tragedy; her tragedy was,she was the only child, an only daughter. At the time when she could have founda husband, could have had a life of her own, there was probably someone, herfather, who said, ?No, you must stay here and take care of me'” (Jellife152). Like Faulkner himself, the reader feels sympathetic toward Emily at theend.
Miss Emily could have had a great life if she had only had better valuesinstilled in her. If her father let her roam free, if the townspeople saw itform Miss Emily’s perspective, and if Miss Emily herself would have triedharder to make a difference in her own life Homer and her could have gottenmarried and live happily ever after. BibliographyBrooks, Cleanth. & Warrren, Robert Penn. (1959). Short Story Criticism.
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