William Faulkner’s “A Rose for Emily” is the story of a woman’sreluctance towards change.
The story encompasses the entire town’s unwillingnessto change, while focusing on the protagonist, Emily Grierson. Faulkner usessymbols throughout the story to cloak an almost allegorical correlation to thereconstruction period of the South. Even though these symbols are open tointerpretation, they are the heart and soul of the story. While the literalmeaning of Faulkner’s story implies many different conclusions, it is primarilythe psychological and symbolic aspects which give the story meaning. Exploringthese aspects will shed light on Faulkner’s intention of “A Rose forEmily.
” After Emily Grierson’s domineering father dies, she refuses to moveon. By defining “moving on” as letting go, we see that Emily is lodgedin the past, unable to ameliorate as the rest of society does. Whenever anythingdrastic occurs, Emily becomes reclusive,”After her father’s death she wentout very little… after her sweetheart went away, people hardly saw her atall.” (428), the narrator explains.
She had Tobe, her butler to interactwith the world so that she didn’t have to face reality. Psychologically, this isvery important in terms of how Emily views the world and why she commits murder.If unable to change, one will die in time. Emily though was held to the code of”noblesse oblige” (430). This meant that even in dire need, Emilywould never reveal her true feelings to the common folk of Jefferson. So shedistorts time, refusing to accept the fact that her father was dead: The dayafter his death all the ladies prepared to call at the house and offercondolence and aid, as is our custom. Miss Emily met them at the door, dressedas usual and with no trace of grief on her face.
She told them that her fatherwas not dead. She did that for three days, with the ministers calling on her,and the doctors, trying to persuade her to let them dispose of the body. Just asthey were about to resort to law and force, she broke down, and they buried herfather quickly. (429) Emily now clear of her father’s “horsewhip”(429), was free to explore her sexuality. This newfound freedom led her to fancya Yankee day laborer named Homer Barron. Her father would never have approved ofa commoner such as Homer as the townsfolk point out, “We remembered all themen her father had driven away” (429). Their relationship grew and thetownspeople suspected that they would be married, as is the southern way.
Theywere mildly surprise that they were not to be married attributing it to”that quality of her father which had thwarted her woman’s life so manytimes…
” (432). Her father had doomed her life, stifling any chance forgrowth. Not all of the blame is to be placed on Emily’s father, rather, itshould be spread among the people of the town, her father, and Emily herself.This falling out with Homer is the turning point in the story.
Instead ofgrieving as a normal person would, Miss Emily turns into a psychotic crazedlover. At this point in the story she ceases to only be called Miss Emily; andthe town chooses to add poor Emily , as if a noble Grierson would need pity.Rather than sulk, Emily goes to the drugstore to buy poison, expectedly to killherself. She displays her force as a Grierson to the unsure druggist when heasks why she requires poison, “Miss Emily just stared at him, her headtilted back in order to look him eye to eye, until he looked away and went andgot the arsenic and wrapped it up” (431).
She used her influence as aGrierson to get what she wanted, even though at this point, the Grierson name,through several humbling events, was losing its vigor. Still alive, Emily againchooses to live a hermit’s life, now that Homer is gone. She again takes refugein her house which literally and figuratively is Miss Emily’s denial of realityand time. This is the initiation of her downfall and ultimatly her lonely death.She refused to be accepted as what she truley was, a commoner.
“…Shedemanded nore than ever the recognition of her dignity as the last Grierson”(430).
Emily, in her home, which for her, was functioning as a temporal shelter,was impervious to the progression that was sweeping the rest of society.”Miss Emily alone