Essays on A Rose For Emily

Essay About A Rose For Emily

The short narrative, “A Rose for Emily”, tells the story of a decaying, lonely lady who’s stuck in the past. The narrative begins with a brief description of the huge funeral of Emily Grierson, in which the whole town was present. The unknown narrator recalls Emily’s truly peculiar behavior within a recollection of past memories. The narrator speaks of At least forty years of Emily’s life that becomes unfolded within the short story.

The story is presented in such an unorthodox fashion that allows readers to see how Faulker examined the present and the past and how they influence each other. He writes of a multifaceted world where the past and the present coexist. Faulkner shows how a small southern town girl, Emily, is at a crossroads, torn between the present and the past. Author William Faulkner, his unique writing style allows the readers to see a form of writing that exposes the “extreme, antisocial behaviors that were often a reaction against a confining code of social conduct” (SparkNotes). The unconventional writing style allows, much room for interpretation from the reader. Emily Grierson, her mysterious social behavior reveals several emerging themes and symbolism found throughout the story.

In “A Rose for Emily” the main theme of tradition versus change and the symbols of Emily’s house and the strand of hair show the conflict between the present and the past. The theme of tradition vs. change is a recurring topic that can be seen as the main contributor to the overall plot. The main character Emily Grierson portrays a mysterious southern elderly woman who is being forced to change due to widespread economic change, radical change, and change within each generation. Despite the changes within her own community she continues to stay the same. As a living walk of history, she is a reminder of the traditions people want to respect and cherish but is an obstacle that lives in her own closeted life cut off from the outside world. Emily is out of touch with society and reality.

When various tax notices were mailed to her by the next generation in power. The letters didn’t work, so a denotation was sent to her house to meet with her. Emily did not ask them to sit she stood at the door and bluntly said “I have no taxes in Jefferson. Colonel Sartoris explained it to me. Perhaps one of you can gain access to the city records and satisfy yourselves.” This example shows Emilies attempt to stop time and prevent change from changing her own preserved lifestyle. Emily’s house is seen as a symbolic object within the story. The building stands as a historic monument just as Emily does. The book describes the home as a “ big, squarish frame house that had once been white, decorated with cupolas and spires and scrolled balconies in the heavily lightsome style of the seventies, set on what had once been the most select street.” By the time the short story takes place much has changed in the world. The street once called the elite place to live has now lost its high-class status.

The house in some ways is apart of Emily. The home acts preservation that keeps the southern tradition alive and keeps change out. The strand of hair found next to Emily’s dead body represents a loss of love and happiness in the pursuit of trying to preserve the past. The “long strand of iron-gray hair” shows the dedication Emily had in living the life she wanted on her own terms. Yes, she did take some morbid steps, which did include murder to stop time and prevent change, yet her intentions were pure. Emily lived by her own moral code during a time that was forcing her to live a life that matched the society around her.

Foreshadowing is seen when the narrator is speaking of Emily’s physical transformation she undergoes throughout her years. Her hair when nearing closer death looks as white as frost until described as a “vigorous iron-gray” on her deathbed. The single strand of gray is a symbol of the last piece of life that would be left to decay within Emily’s own preserved world that was quickly coming to an end. Overall William Faulkners,“ A Rose for Emily”, was written in such a way that the past and present seemed to influence each other throughout the entire short story. His writing style gives the reader a guessing game to what happens next. The lengths Emily took to preserve her traditional lifestyle were to the extreme. Her mysterious social behavior reveals several emerging themes and symbolism found throughout the story. The main character’s obscure behavior helps show “A Rose for Emily” the main theme of tradition versus change and the symbols of Emily’s house and the strand of hair that help show the conflict between the present and the past.  

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