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Analysis a Rose for Emily

In: English and Literature

Submitted By sirfalas18
Words 926
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Gabriel Roncal
Dr. Reginald Abbott
ENGL 1102-265
28 February 2013 The Southern Book of no changes: An Analysis of William Faulkner’s “A Rose for Emily” “Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don’t resist them – that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like.” From Lao Tzu One of the five classics of Taoism, the I Ching or Book of Changes, states that the world and life are always changing, and that only the superior man is meant to overcome these special circumstances. In A Rose for Emily by William Faulkner, the main character Miss Emily Grierson isolates herself from reality and makes the decision of defying the human necessity to adapt. In this way, Faulkner uses this story to illustrate the audience about the incapacity of the South to accept change after the Civil War. Once the North beat the South, many southerners did not accept the fact that their lives had changed. They clung to the past and rejected the new vision of America. Emily’s personality represents this last try to stand firm to the old traditions of the South. In the beginning of the story, the reader can observe that even her property is a holdout: "But garages and cotton gins had encroached and obliterated even the august names of the neighborhood; only now Miss Emily's house was left, lifting its stubborn and coquettish decay above the cotton wagons and gasoline pump-a eyesore among eyesores" (Faulkner, 91). Faulkner writes a story rich in symbolism, Emily’s state of mind starts to worsen after her father’s death, a symbol of the South’s defeat. Later on, when the people of Jefferson go to offer their condolences she acts like nothing sad has happened. Emily simply shuts down the door and starts aging along with her house, another Faulkner’s symbolism. Looking back into history, it is not merely a coincidence that even though Congress had already ratified the Thirteenth, many blacks were still enslaved and treated unfairly; it took more than that to change the mentality of the South. Moreover, one will think that in a regular situation she would have gone to jail after refusing to pay taxes, but Jefferson authorities ignore her insolence. It seems like they see in Miss Grierson those traditions that they have grown up with, but have had to disregard in order to adapt to the new changing world. Throughout this part of Faulkner’s story more of this audacity and the town’s inability to deal with it are shown: Emily’s denial to have a mailbox or a house number, people paying for China painting lesson only not to break an old tradition and townspeople taking care of the odor emanating from her house. These situations clearly tell the reader that she is not the only one who cannot let things go. In his own words, Faulkner writes about Emily, "Alive, Miss Emily had been a tradition, a duty, a care; a sort of hereditary obligation upon the town" (Faulkner, 91). Furthermore, Emily reveals one more time her unwillingness to live in the present by trying to keep Homer Barron by her side. It is unclear how Homer has died; however, the Faulkner’s hints take the readers to point out an arsenic poisoning and Miss Grierson as the perpetrator. When she starts dating Homer she makes her last effort to free herself from Barron represents the North: a different way of thinking than Emily’s, someone who is followed and exemplifies the northern chaotic life: “A big, dark, ready man, with a big voice and eyes lighter than his face. The little boys with follow in groups to hear him” (Faulkner, 93). On the other hand, as it has been discussed along this analysis, she is the other side of the coin: the representation of those old traditions that are vanishing, the front-page of that slow pace of the South. The reader can observe that when he makes the attempt to leave her, she does whatever is necessary to keep him with her even taking the life of his lover, and with it, her last remains of sanity. Emily is the definitive symbol of that need to stay in the past, a world that does not exist anymore. Finally, Faulkner takes the audience back to the funeral and the bizarre scene of Barron’s corpse discovery. Once again, Faulkner presents another situation that will not be usual in regular circumstances. Is it possible that the people of Jefferson have had acknowledge or, at least, suspicion of the crime when Emily was still alive? Did they spread lime as an act of solidarity towards Miss Grierson or they were covering up the crime of their iconic citizen? As a matter of fact, they have let her commit the crime; they are as guilty as Miss Emily. Their misinterpreted compassion for a symbol of the old South has ended up in this. Ultimately, the message of Faulkner is clear even though is not stated what the people of Jefferson is going to do after this discovery: Time never stops and no matter what means one may have to trap it, it will eventually find its way out. Works Cited Faulkner, William. A Rose for Emily. 1931. Literature: An Introduction to Reading and Writing. Ed. Edgar V. Roberts and Robert Zweig. 5th Compact ed Boston: Pearson, 2012. 91-96. Print. Ritsema, Rudolf, and Shantena Augusto. Sabbadini. The Original I Ching Oracle: The Pure and Complete Texts with Concordance. London: Watkins, 2005. Print.

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